After ten years, Union County Co-op’s Watchfire sign has required minimal mechanical maintenance. It’s also been a great return on investment.
“At our Liberty site in Union County, I think we replaced one LED module on that sign and now it’s ten years old,” said Gary Barrett, retail development manager of CountryMark, an American-owned oil exploration, production, refining, and marketing company. “I’ve seen kids throw balls against it. It’s been through hailstorms. It’s been through a lot of harsh conditions and yet it just keeps performing.”
At one time, CountryMark’s sign dealer used a different brand of gas price message boards, which had a lot of problems with corrosion and LED burnout. The petroleum co-op had to spend a significant amount of money to repair and upgrade them. But those were not the only costs.
“When an LED burns out, people don’t know what the price of gas is, and so they drive to the competitor,” said Barrett. “Many also think, ‘If that’s as good of a job as they do maintaining things, the quality of their gas may not be as good as they say, or it may not be a good experience if we stop at this site.'”
CountryMark has found a winning formula with LED gas Price Watcher™ boards manufactured by Watchfire Signs. Barrett says all Watchfire signs are watertight and perform beautifully.
In addition to supplying their locations with Watchfire’s Price Watcher signs, CountryMark has found Watchfire’s LED message boards to be a helpful addition to many of their fuel stations.
About one-third of CountryMark’s 100 locations are unattended. At these locations, CountryMark struggles with conveying the message that the general public can buy fuel there. Some people think these locations are for co-op members only. The installation of message boards has informed the public and increased traffic and gas sales.
At the CountryMark station in Liberty, Ind., the Watchfire message board has become a town landmark.
“One indicator that the sign has helped is (that) we get phone calls,” said Pam Davis, Union County Co-op Accounts Receivable and Propane secretary. “For instance, when we put up a message about our ethanol-free 91 fuel, we immediately started getting calls because people did not realize that we even had that – and then we started selling more.”
But CountryMark isn’t the only one benefiting from the sign. From students of the month, to residents celebrating birthdays and details about an upcoming blood drive, the sign has become a resource for this rural community.
“The community comes to us with different events that are going on and asks if we’d put it on the sign,” said Davis. “It means a lot to them, and I think that also helps us gain a little bit of business – because they appreciate that we’re not only a company but a local business who cares about the neighborhood and the people who live here.”
CountryMark has been using Watchfire’s Ignite software since its creation in 2000. Davis says the program is self-explanatory, and the EasyArt collection of 1000 images and animations – included in every order – is especially useful.
“I’m not a person who does a lot on the computer, yet the Ignite program is easy enough that I understand how to use it and put a variety of different things up on the sign,” Davis said. “So if it’s easy for me to work, just about anybody can do it. It doesn’t take somebody with a lot of computer knowledge to use this sign. It’s easy to use.”
“Our Watchfire signs are worth the investment that we made in them,” added Barrett.