View Full Version : Complementary Business

Garrick David
03-29-2010, 10:47 AM
I am sure many of you focus on awards, trophies and signs.

However, what are some of the complementary businesses do you also have? I have seen where a lot of engraving businesses also have sign shops. I saw where one also did custom framing.

What else is out there? What additional equipment is needed? Obviously I am looking for additional opportunities, product lines, etc to make a living and support my hobbies :)

Please feel free to PM me if you don't want to disclose something on open forum.


Rodne Gold
03-29-2010, 10:50 AM
There's a ton of stuff you can do , however you compete with already established businesses in the field and will need to do a ton of marketing besides.
It all depends on your existing customer base , it's a lot easier to get them to buy more than find new customers so it would help if you listed what you already are doing well and who your customers are.

Viktor Voroncov
03-29-2010, 11:05 AM
Answer very depend from equipment you have now:)

Garrick David
03-29-2010, 11:13 AM
I am currently primarily doing awards for the local hospital, trophies for non profit tournaments and nametags for businesses. I really like the CNC router I got to learn on, but need a larger machine, but afraid of the cost without any customers.

I used to own a sign shop, screen printing business and printing company and thought about those, but the capital investment is pretty steap...probably require a lot of debt.

I have a very open mind at this point.

Scott Shepherd
03-29-2010, 11:24 AM
My best advice would be a vinyl plotter with the sensor on it that can pick up registration marks. For $3,500-$4,000 you'd be in business.

My plotter has paid for itself many times over. I can't say that about my laser. I just did one job for it that took about 3 hours and the total for the job was $440. Material cost was $85. It was priced for small quantities, and they order a larger batch at the same price.

I don't do a ton of vinyl work, but when it's running, it makes a lot of money. You just can't get in competition with the low price people out there. Some people give that work away.

The plotter compliments the laser rather well, in my opinion. You can cut out blanks and shapes on the laser, apply vinyl and you're done.

Viktor Voroncov
03-29-2010, 11:34 AM
As I see you have laser, so logical way willl be offer stampmaking - talk with peoples from Millenium Marking, they can help to establish new direction.
If you have free money - look on wideformat printing/display making.

CNC router and foam cutter looks very attractive but they need more space, more requirements to production facilities, more staff for operations and installation.

AL Ursich
03-29-2010, 11:54 AM
Sublimation and Epoxy doming are easy things to add that make money...


Garrick David
03-29-2010, 11:56 AM
I like the cnc direction (who would be my primary customers?)

Other things I have considered are:
Embroidery (lots of low price providers in the area)
Screen Printing (messy and takes lots of space) :(
Pad Printing (don't know anything about it)
Hot Wire (foam cutting, industrial work)
Digital Printing (vehicle wraps, lots of competition)
Waterjet cutting (expensive equipment- yikes)

Martin Boekers
03-29-2010, 2:19 PM
As you can see there are many venues to take.

One thing, though, be careful you don't sacrifice quality and service to add another dimension to your business.


Richard Rumancik
03-29-2010, 5:29 PM
Garrick, I have thought about CNC too, but if you are still unsure who you would sell to, then it is probably too early to go this route. You don't necessarily need a large machine if you are doing say control panels or tags. Maybe come up with products that can be done on small equipment. Don't assume that if you buy it they will come.

Rodne's idea is good - ask your existing customers what kinds of things they might need that you could add. Sometimes a local small business may have some parts which they have trouble procuring that you could figure out how to make with small lower cost equipment (laser plus a bit of extra equipment.)

Pad printing: equipment is generally very expensive; lots of expensive inks and chemicals to buy and store, very repetitous work ( eg print 1000 golf balls). Every time you want to do a job you need to buy another can of $75 ink as you don't have that color. The solvents can be nasty as well. That's my opinion; I don't do pad printing but investigated it a bit.

Foam cutting: have you considered foam cutting with your laser? It can work for inserts for specialized tool kits. I have some recent projects where I lasered 1" grey urethane foam for an electronic instrument case. It is a stack of 5 layers (two on cover side of box, three on base). Layers were bonded with silicone. I made some fixturing for gluing with the laser plus woodworking tools.

If you don't do any signs now you could test out the waters in this market without buying much.

Garrick David
03-29-2010, 6:38 PM
With the CNC router I would probably focus on sign work (because that is my background) and most of the signs require a relatively large platform. But I am sure there is other types of work out there like stuff for custom cabinet shops or other wood shops, but wouldn't they already have their own equipment?

I once thought that hot wire foam cutting for the construction industry would be good because there is a lot of styrofoam being used for columns and trim work, but construction is way down. However, the technology (CNC) and materials would require a relatively small learning curve. I used to make a lot of signs out of this stuff.

I even considered going into neon once. Talk about a learning curve...and hot...but very creative stuff can be done.

Rodne Gold
03-29-2010, 6:55 PM
Non profit and hospitals doesnt sound like a good idea when it comes to making money - expand your trophy award and nametag business to corporate or those prepared to buy more upmarket and more profitable stuff , you already got the kit , got the experience , got the samples and got a foot in the door , dont introduce another process - maximise what you got first.