Vehicle Wraps: Wrapping Up Opportunities

Wraps Opportunities
2023 Never Stop Learning Contest.

As someone relatively new to wrap installations, David Quimbayo of Los Angeles-based QDesignsLA wanted to learn from those whom he considered experts. So he took an online course from The Wrap Institute (TWI) on paint protection film (PPF) and learned that his instructor would be at ISA International Sign Expo as part of The Wrap Experience™, an interactive booth area within ISA Sign Expo that is a partnership between the International Sign Association (ISA) and TWI.

Connecting with the instructor in-person was enough to get Quimbayo to Las Vegas for the 2023 event. But the opportunities he saw to expand his business made his time worth it.

Quimbayo was not exactly ready to start building and installing signs, but as he says, “I did see a lot of possibilities.”

It works the other way, too, with some seeing wrap as a prime extension of their print capabilities.

Whichever direction, Charlie Trujillo, CEO of Lettering Express in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, recommends, “Find your avenue and what you’re trying to make money on. I used to say, ‘yes,’ to everything.”

But, according to Trujillo, expanding makes sense. “There are those opportunities, but make sure it’s a smart one,” he advises. “Some people get ‘hyper focused’ and miss out on expansion opportunities. If you’re not printing canvas material, that’s an easy addition. If you’re doing cars, are you also doing walls?”

Wraps Opportunities
Charlie Trujillo, CEO of Lettering Express in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo: Wrapper Mapper.

Tangential businesses—like large format wall graphics or temporary vinyls—make a prime opening to explore wraps and beyond, particularly for someone relatively new to the industry.

Lettering Express has a solid mix of wraps and vinyl applications, apparel, and rigid signage. “We just focus on what we’re good at, and vinyl applications are a big part of it,” says Trujillo.

With so many possibilities around every corner, gathering more information from expert installers and manufacturers makes sense. And there is no better place to do that than at ISA International Sign Expo 2024, being held April 10-12 in Orlando, Florida, which offers a multi-faceted experience for those in wrap, paint protection film, and auto restyling.

Installers can see the latest products available, including new exhibitors focused on the rapidly growing auto restyling business at The Wrap Experience.

The Never Stop Learning Contest, which combines competition and education, puts together teams of wrap installers—from novices to experts—with a skilled installer to advise them. Justin Pate, widely regarded as the world’s foremost wrap installation expert, judges. This year’s event offers more competition slots than before.

The contest also features more application techniques, too, according to Craig Campbell, vice president of business development at ISA and the point person on wraps for the association. “Paint protection film and interior applications will be new additions,” he says, noting attendees can try their hand at the rapidly growing line of architectural films (from woodgrain to marble that are increasing in use for kitchens and other interior home applications.)

Attendees of The Wrap Experience can not only see the full line of application tools but also meet with people who can train them on how to use them.

For a relative newcomer like Quimbayo, one surprise has been just getting an idea of the exact main differences between manufacturers on vinyl films.

“Thickness matters, and then post-heating temperatures matters,” he says. “It’s about getting the right material and the right equipment and having good enough knowledge from people willing to share it.”

And it’s not just in technique. A pre-conference boot camp on April 9 brings together expert insight on the nuances of running a wrap business.

Wraps Opportunities
2023 Never Stop Learning contest.

Quimbayo was surprised by how willing the wrap community is to share insights and help each other out.

“There’s so much to learn from partnering,” he states. “They may offer something you don’t know and vice versa. Building up a partnership also helps with growing the word of mouth, since no one really advertises in this industry.”

Trujillo finds that word of mouth comes by focusing on several industries and by working with graphic design firms. “We’re getting more interior design work,” he says. “That is one of our big pushes for 2024—to explore more of the architectural side and more walls than cars.”

Both types of installation have their own challenges. “If you can wrap a car, you can wrap a wall,” said Trujillo. “The wall is flat. If you’re using quality material, you’ll be able to read the wrinkles. It’ll be a lot easier.”

Finding those new opportunities, whether in walls or other areas, makes sense. “If you have a digital printer, you can do a lot,” said Trujillo. “You can wrap a building, a substrate, and a car and make magnetics, banners, and canvas material.”

Quimbayo also sees the need to diversify. “Diversifying your services can go a long way,” he says, “but not over diversifying, where it starts eating into your pockets. Working will help you understand what your limits are and whether it’s something you should consider.”