My travels to visit ASI Affiliates in their offices throughout the U.S. continues as I learn about their business including what makes their markets and the way each affiliate handles business opportunities distinctive. The ASI Signage system consists of affiliates who are sign professionals each with unique customers, product demands and challenges. I’ve been amazed at the wide variety of unique architectural signage products available but even more surprised with the experience and talent that make up the ASI affiliate sales and production teams spread throughout the U.S.
My most recent trip had me accompanying Selwyn Josset, ASI’s VP Affiliate Services, on a 2-day visit with Carol Grayson and her daughter and business partner, Nikole Donath, in Miami. ASI system’s affiliates business models differ. Some have manufacturing capabilities as well as sales consultants and installers while others focus on selling and installing signs. Both approaches are successful and the backgrounds of affiliates and market conditions helped them decide which model works best for them.
Creative Talent Energized By Artistic Flair
The creative talent in the ASI, Miami office is energized by the artistic flair exhibited by Carol Grayson and her husband Bruce. Both are interior designers who prior to opening their ASI Signage franchise painted murals in homes and offices throughout the United States. Their murals often took up huge walls and were extremely popular. Carol and Bruce had a long waiting list of clients who couldn’t wait to have their very own Grayson originals.
In visiting the ASI, Miami office, which focuses on sales and installation of signage, one is immediately struck by the hand-painted furniture and art done by Bruce Grayson that permeates every nook and cranny throughout the office. His design aesthetic is fun and the flair of parents Carol and Bruce along with their daughters Nikole Donath and Dawn Grayson enable them to offer a design aesthetic to their clients that develops unique signage solutions to enhance the image that clients want to project. The Grayson family’s warmth and commitment to their clients is contagious as evidenced by their entire staff becoming part of the family.
Overcoming 2008 Economic Crash By Expanding Into Healthcare and Cruise Ship Markets
Since the 2008 economic crash the highly depressed business conditions have been an especially huge challenge to the South Florida economy. The crash was devastating to anybody involved in any aspect of the construction industry in South Florida. Prior to the crash 80% of ASI, Miami’s revenue came from the condominium market. The housing market took a massive hit nationwide but South Florida was amongst the hardest hit real estate markets in the country. Condominiums had historically been built and sold quickly as Florida has been the nation’s premiere retirement destination for many years. But with the housing crash selling prices went into free fall, unsold inventory ballooned and builders abandoned projects leaving suppliers unpaid for services rendered with no new business on the horizon.
ASI, Miami survived by broadening their scope, finding opportunities in the healthcare sector and other industries as well. During our visit Carol and Nikole regaled us with stories of providing signage on some of the large cruise ships whose homeports are in South Florida. Many of these ships are the size of small cities. Carol laid out maps of ship decks that spread across the conference room table as she shared signage needs on some projects ASI, Miami is currently working on. We laughed as Carol described the first time she had to board a ship via a 4-story stairway that had open spaces on each stair that looked down to the ocean many stories below. Carol who doesn’t have a love of heights to begin with had to ascend the steep stairs while carrying luggage. Her ship boarding sounded like a horror story that could have anyone on a therapist’s couch even if they didn’t mind heights. Learning from her first experience Carol now brings much less luggage when boarding cruise ships for signage installation.
Time is very limited when installing signs on cruise ships as they sit idle in a dry dock with an army of workers getting the ship ready to sail as quickly as possible. Every day a ship is in dry dock results in costly revenue lost by a cruise line so ships in dry dock are packed with workers laboring around the clock all faced with difficult deadlines. If a sign installation isn’t finished when the cruise ship is ready to sail on its next voyage, installers find themselves at sea sleeping in a cabin that is unusable for vacationers, finishing their jobs and having to find their way home from the next port of call which is likely to be in a foreign country with limited flight options home and those available at very high prices.
Its About the People
As I travel around the country to meet ASI affiliates in their offices I’m reminded that the architectural signage business is all about the people. To be successful in this industry the quality of signage has got to be there, no question. However, the commitment to providing top quality signage to clients that meet client’s’ unique needs while reflecting the personality of each client’s brand requires signage professionals to be able to get inside the skin of their clients. By combining their design talent and business relationships with vendors (that have blossomed over the years), provide signage at an affordable cost and in a timely manner is what differentiates true signage professionals from sign vendors.
I couldn’t help wearing a huge grin on my face the entire time I was at ASI, Miami. The Grayson family team is committed to customer service with an artistic flair which combined with their unique product offering enables ASI, Miami to come out on top of their competition in South Florida. ASI, Miami knows the signage business inside out and their customers, who keep coming back, adore their artistic flare and attention to every detail.
To view additional photos that I took during my visit to the ASI, Miami Office just click on the link below:
Cruise Ship Deck Maps Owners, Carol Grayson & Nikole Donath