Being PDAA Certified through SGIA has been a tremendous factor for the growth of our company. My two business partners and I started Axis Graphic Installations in August 2009, and it was a very slow start. Our clientele consisted exclusively of local print and sign companies in our home market of southeast Florida. We decided to make the investment of getting PDAA Certified in December 2009, and fairly quickly, we started getting new leads from outside of our local market.
Media companies, project management companies, and national rollout companies from all over the country started acknowledging our existence. It was not a quick burst of volume out of the gate as we were the newest certified installers in our region, so we were at the bottom of a very elite list [PDAA’s “Find an Installer” database] for our area. But as the months and years went on, we got more and more inquiries from new clients that had found us on the database.
Having so many installers above us on that list was a little concerning at first, but after being on the PDAA database for about a decade now, we can really see the larger picture. The bottom line is, at some point, the installers listed above us were not available for certain projects, which drove the project managers to give us a try. And providing quality installations with outstanding customer service bumped our company up on their internal call lists. So, even though we were the eighth company listed on the PDAA database, we landed at No. 3, No. 2, or even No. 1 on many companies’ call lists.
I believe those using this database find comfort in knowing that this is one of the only graphic installation certification programs out there that is not geared toward any one brand of materials. This program utilizes materials from four to five of the largest manufacturers in the industry. This ensures that PDAA Certification graduates are extremely diverse in their knowledge of the different features and limitations of many popular materials being used throughout the industry. Therefore, they’re more progressive than an installer that has only been certified to install one manufacturer’s product.
For example, if a spring retail rollout is done utilizing products from “Brand A” and then the summer rollout uses “Brand B" products, the project management companies have the confidence that a PDAA Certified installer has experience with both. And SGIA continually keeps the PDAA network of installers educated with the industry’s newest tips and techniques on their website through their “Tech Tips.”
Over the years, we have had the opportunity to expand our company from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Philadelphia; Baltimore; District of Columbia; Asheville, N.C.; Austin, Texas; and Atlanta. Each time we expanded to a new market, we immediately sent the lead installer from that market to get PDAA Certified. And each market grew more quickly than the last. It wasn’t until 2018 that we decided to send our installers out to obtain some of the other certifications available in our industry. Some of these certifications have definitely brought in new leads and some of them haven’t generated too much. Regardless, the ownership of our company agrees that the PDAA Certifications were the largest tool of our success in our first nine years of business.
We were able to evolve from just three installers in one city to 16 installers across seven cities with just this certification. And for that, we are truly appreciative of this program. I would recommend any graphic installer looking for new leads in commercial vehicle wraps or retail installations to sign up for PDAA training and Certification.
The program also evolves to best reflect the industry, with the introduction this year of three different certification badge options based on an installer’s specific skill sets. PDAA is also looking to include certifications such as vehicle color changes, paint protection films, specialty/resurfacing retail films, commercial and vehicle tinting, and mountable signage. We are very excited to see this program continue to transform.
If you're looking to expand your installation opportunities and prove your skills to the industry, join me at the next PDAA Commercial and Fleet Certification event (March 25-26; Fairfax, Va.), or check out other 2020 PDAA Certification dates.