Cabinet maker, sign maker, account manager. Mark Vella is a “hands-on” kind of guy who very much enjoys working with Metro Sign and Awning’s customers, finding out what each one needs in the way of signage, and helping to deliver it.
After a varied career first working with wood, then later with signage materials, Mark found his way to Metro Sign and learned his true calling: making contact and working with contractors, architects, building owners, and just about anyone who has a message to communicate and needs Metro Sign to give it solidity and dimension.
Mark keeps his ear to the ground, searching out potential projects via a wide variety of industry channels. He also actively develops relationships through which he can offer the vast capabilities of Metro Sign and Awning.
One of Mark’s most interesting experiences has been his activities with Boston’s new Waterside Project. “I contacted the general contractor very early,” recalls Mark, “well before anyone there had any firm ideas regarding signage. I helped put together a presentation for them about prototype signage and told them about Metro Sign’s capabilities. We even made a couple of prototype signs for them. Ultimately, they chose us to do the job, and began looking to us for answers to their signage challenges.”
That’s right up Mark’s alley.
Mark’s responsibilities at Metro Sign include such tasks as:
- Going over buildings and blueprints,
- Helping owners, developers, and architects determine what signs are needed,
- Making sure final designs are code compliant.
He also helps prepare price quotations for fabricating the final designs.
“I get a lot of pleasure,” Mark explains, “working with customers all the way through a project, making sure everything runs on time, and keeping things moving forward.”
Mr. Responsibility Wears Many Hats
Mark’s responsibilities also include coordinating with others inside Metro Sign:
- Purchasing Managers, who find the materials needed for each project.
- Project Managers, who handle the day-to-day responsibilities of translating customer specifications into finished products.
- Fabricators, whose skills and talents ultimately translate drawings into reality.
“I’m a cabinet maker by trade,” Mark explains, with a modicum of pride. “So when I closed my shop, it was not too big a step to find work with a sign company. At first, I was just cutting out sign parts, but then I worked my way up to shop foreman. Later, I found I had a talent and an appreciation for the sales process. I find knowing the ins and outs of the manufacturing side makes it easier to talk with customers.
“It’s part of my job to help clients find out what’s possible, what they can and cannot do, how far their budget can take them, and then narrow it all down to exactly the signage they want. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I still find every job is different: the color, the material, the graphics, the fonts, getting inputs from people, following different processes. You get to learn so much and it’s always lot of fun.
“I still build bookcases for my kids’ bedrooms,” Mark confesses, “but I prefer to be where I am now: on the road, helping our clients choose what they want, using creativity to meet their challenges, and ultimately being the guy who solves their problems.
“Now and then,” he smiles, “I still get my hands dirty. I actually made a prototype for the Waterside Project.
“It’s a blast to go back to the shop, cutting, shaping, sanding, painting. When those opportunities arise, I really enjoy them.
“On the Waterside Project
, we’ve all agreed on a giant letter ‘W,’ which is their logo. The final sign will be a huge channel letter, with halo lights shining out the back side of it, reflecting against a freestanding backer panel that provides a six-inch outline all around the letter. It’ll provide landmark signage on a landmark building.
“They couldn’t visualize what size it ought to be, though, so I – personally – made them a 20 foot wide prototype. I used thin plastic, with an aluminum frame to hold the shape.
“We delivered it this morning, and they’re going to hoist it into place and let us know their decision in a few days. I’ll be with them to answer their questions and help them make the choice that’ll satisfy them the most. The GC already told me ‘it’s good to have this prototype to look at because you never know what works best until you actually put the sign up and see it in place’.
“No matter what size that ‘W’ it turns out to be,” says Mark with a big smile, “it’s really cool!”