A Sign Of The Times In Lihu‘e

Employees Jordan Lee, Julie Rapacon and Dawn Lagundino at Sign Art Kaua'i. Coco Zickos photos

Dawn Lagundino
General Manager of Sign Art Kaua‘i

Please tell us about your business. We are a licensed sign contractor and make all types of signs. We’re fully insured and full-service. We do design, fabrication and installation. People can come to us with their idea of what kind of signs they need and we recommend the types of materials. We also can get permitting for them, if that’s required. Sign Art Kaua’i is located in Lihu’e and has been in business about 19 years. Laraine Moriguchi, who retired last year, owns the business.

What kind of options do people have for their signs? We have lots of options. We can make stickers a lot of teenagers come for stickers on their cars. We can do magnetic signs or full wraps, like on the Kukui Grove shuttle and Regency at Puakea shuttle. Signs can be banners, aluminum, plastic or wood. We do illuminated signs, too, which we don’t actually fabricate on-island but we order them and install them.

What is one example of an illuminated sign you’ve done? We just installed one at the Fun Factory at Kukui Grove.

How did this business get started? Laraine was a dental hygienist at the time she started the business. But it was something that always interested her. She was self-taught, and it grew from there. I started part time 14 years ago and eventually went to full time. Slowly but surely we’ve grown. We used to be a little shop on Laukini Road, and now our office is twice the size and we have eight employees.

Why do you do what you do? I like this job, and Laraine is a very good employer. It’s a fun job and definitely has more of a creative side, so it doesn’t get boring.

What kind of signs do you usually design? We do birthdays, weddings and graduations, which are fun to design. Businesses usually come to us with a logo already, so we don’t do much design for them, it’s more like just adding text to it.

What is your business motto or philosophy? Our goal here is excellence beyond expectation.

What’s the most challenging aspect of this business? Just trying to meet excellence beyond expectation. Sometimes we’ll have a huge print that we just made, but there will be a little spot or a little scratch and it bothers us, so we have to redo the whole thing. So, really just trying to satisfy the clients.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of this business? Seeing the client’s face when they get their sign and are really happy with it. That makes it all worthwhile.

What motivates you to get up and go to work every day? I actually like coming to work. We have a really good team here. All the employees get along really well and help each other out.

What are your plans for the future? We always talk about ways we can expand or get different equipment to better our service.

Where are you from and what high school did you attend? I’m from Kaua’i and went to Waimea High School and graduated in 1997.

How has business been in the past few years? When the economy was down, we kept really busy. I think a big part of that is when business got slow, a lot of people thought of advertising more, so it was good for us.

What sets this business apart from others? Our customer service. I think we do a very good job at keeping them happy and getting things to them on time.

What sets your signs apart? Everything is computerized, so everything that comes out is printed and doesn’t have imperfections. The materials we use last a long time. Our prints, we also add a UV laminate to keep them from fading because here in Hawaii we have a strong sun. And that’s a big thing that clients look for: to make sure their signs last.

What format does the design need to be in when customers bring it to you? We request digital files. But sometimes they don’t always have it, so we work with them based on what they have.

What is the process you go through to make the final product? We bring the digital file into our sign program and size it to the size of the sign, and we do any kind of modifications they want. We proof it for them, print it, cut the board depending on what kind of material they want and then we’ll apply the print to the board. And if they want it installed, we’ll install it for them.

Sign Art Kaua’i 3-3586 Kuhio Hwy., Suite 2; Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday 246-6812