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SouthWood Overview

Since 1970, SouthWood has specialized in the creation and implementation of image-conscious signage and graphics. We design, plan, build, install and manage the process from concept to completion. Serving multi-family and planned communities, urban developments, the golf and resort industries, businesses and institutions, and governmental agencies, we’ve earned a reputation for helping clients. We help you figure out what you need; we take that idea and produce the most satisfactory product for your project, and we deliver it on time. It is this level of service and quality that generates referrals and repeat business.

Our diverse client base is geographically spread throughout the U.S., the Caribbean and beyond. Their image-conscious properties require well-planned, themed signage that is consistent throughout. We understand that signage is both a marketing and an operational concern. If planned and fabricated properly, signs will enhance the value of the property, as well as the overall experience of residents and visitors. We help make sure that happens.

At SouthWood, everything we do is geared toward fostering long-term relationships with our clients. We have staked our reputation on our ability to provide the most attractive, functional and cost-effective signage programs possible. The following pages will provide insight into our company, our services and our commitment to excellence.

SouthWood differentiates itself from others in the signage and graphics industry by the following:
1. Comprehensiveness of services offered
Some firms are purely graphic design firms. Others provide only wayfinding and planning assistance. Still others are simply manufacturers, making signs to their own or to others’ specifications. Of these firms, some do not provide installation of their products. SouthWood offers a single source of wayfinding planning, signage design, manufacturing and installation – a turn-key solution to your project. The net benefit to clients is a seamless, controllable and fully accountable process, which minimizes time, improves efficiency, and allows clients to run their operations while SouthWood handles signage.
2. Breadth of products available
Some manufacturers offer only standard “modular” pre-designed sign kits. Others limit their manufacturing to certain materials or methods. SouthWood is a pure custom fabricator. With full capabilities to work with materials as varied as metal, wood, stone, glass, resin, tile, plastics, and composites, we are not only a “single stop” source, we also have no pre-conceived bias toward what solutions to offer clients. This allows us to help clients get unbiased solutions that meet their expectations, their needs, and their budgets.
3. Sensitivity and experience in clients’ industries
Having done substantial work in high-end “living” and residential environments such as resorts, planned communities, apartments and condominiums, golf and country clubs, etc., SouthWood has developed a sensitivity to the needs of those audiences. Projects of this type are typically more interested in finesse, subtlety, appropriateness and quality – characteristics not associated with more commercial and retail signage assignments.
4. Diversity and appropriateness of applications
Interior signage is vastly different from exterior signage, not only in terms of scale and appearance but also in terms of maintenance, durability and practicality. Interior designers who do get involved in sign design typically have little knowledge of harsh outdoor conditions and their effects upon exterior signage. Likewise, landscape architects often lack experience in the nuances of blending signage into interior design schemes. SouthWood regularly operates in both interior and exterior applications, and brings experience and practicality to both.
5. Size and stability of the company
In an industry marked by change, and often with a low cost of entry for new firms, SouthWood has a long and proven track record. Under the same ownership and management since its inception, it has the personnel and facilities to handle major projects simultaneously, the financial strength to withstand the ups and downs of the economy, and a track record of successfully completing thousands of projects. With a capital investment of several million dollars in facilities and equipment, we are committed to serving our clients’ needs for the long term.
6. Concentration of our efforts
Unlike some firms for whom signage is just a piece of their business, SouthWood’s sole focus is on the creation and implementation of comprehensive sign programs. We have devoted years to learning both “the art and the science” of this specialized niche, and continue to push for improvements in process, creativity, efficiency and results. We are customer driven, and never lose sight of the fact that in our clients’ eyes, we’re only as good as the last job we did for them.

SouthWood’s philosophy, which is not limited to creative areas, is “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” As a design/build firm, with full responsibility for final results of a complex process, there is nowhere to hide and no one but ourselves to blame if the end product of our efforts lacks excellence. This places a substantial obligation on us to ask questions to understand not only the physical attributes and requirements of a project, but also the client’s philosophical and emotional expectations.

We believe the creative process of our work should be focused on “design” rather than “art.” Art tends to be pure self-expression, often without regard for reality. Design is more about solving problems and recognizing that function is every bit as important, if not more so, than form. We believe solutions should be appropriate to their surroundings, sensitive to the context in which they are used, and helpful to those who use and depend upon them. People who are already familiar with a site know how to find their way around. For those who are new to a site, signage is not only a valuable navigation and orientation tool, it can also be welcoming and reassuring, while reinforcing the identity of the facility.

Our creative team is comprised of a diverse group, with backgrounds and degrees in fields such as graphic and industrial design, architecture, fine art, exhibit and display, engineering, construction and signage. Under the direction of a Design Manager, this staff of five works closely with account executives and project managers to provide the creative direction. 

As a first step in wayfinding, SouthWood has to gain not only a full understanding of the physical layout of a facility, but also how it is used – presently, and ideally/ultimately, if change is desired. We do this by studying maps, plans and photos, by spending time on the site, and by asking questions – lots of questions. We put ourselves in the position of first-time visitors to a site, so we can experience it on our own, with a fresh perspective. However, from our past experience providing solutions for hundreds of sites , we have the advantage of being able to visualize and ultimately articulate what is needed. We are also able, due to our perspective, to systematize the process by drawing upon a proven methodology based upon universal sign types and functions. We apply those sign types and functions to the unique attributes of each facility; and through discussions with suitable client contacts, coupled with
our own experience with similar types of projects, we develop a hierarchy of information that first-time visitors need to know.

As all this documentation and information is gathered and understood, it eventually is presented to the client by way of sign locator maps, message schedules and other visual aids to enable us to get client input. As this input is added to the process, we continue to fine-tune the visuals until a clear understanding of solutions is agreed upon. A part of this process is also a review of priorities and timeframes for implementation of this signage master plan.

Simultaneous to the wayfinding research and methodology discussed above, the design process follows a parallel track. By a thorough and detailed study of the project, as well as its identity as conveyed through marketing, positioning and advertising, we gain an understanding of appropriate physical attributes that might be incorporated into signage. These include logos and typefaces, colors, legibility, architectural details, materials, finishes, and sense of scale, among others. We also study and document physical conditions, limitations or requirements that might impact things such as sign size, orientation, placement or function.

All of this information is used to begin the process of schematic conceptual designs, which, after several rounds of internal review and discussion, are ready for presentation to the client. Taking feedback from the client, the design concepts are narrowed down to an agreed upon direction, and design development begins. As details become known, they are added to the process, ultimately resulting in a full “family of signs” based upon functional needs. Typical sign examples are formulated to show each of the unique sign types needed at the facility, so that upon completion of sign message schedules and sign locator maps, each unique sign can be drawn, showing its message, location and details.

When the design and review process is complete, the manufacturing process can begin. As often happens in large comprehensive signage programs, implementation occurs in phases, but once adequate information is gathered and designs are finalized on priority items, manufacturing can begin on those, while details of lower priority items are still being resolved.

In the early stages, before substantial discussions with the client team, before being retained to work on the assignment, and before doing the essential on-site study and documentation the project requires, it isn’t prudent to speculate about design solutions or create hypothetical designs. It is safe to say that as those events occur, creative direction will be presented for client feedback, as spelled out in our “design process” and “wayfinding methodology” comments.

As SouthWood gains a better understanding of the property’s signage needs and the client’s expectations regarding signage, it will be easier to discuss budget parameters. Using information gained from discussions with management and our own observations, coupled with various “rule of thumb” formulas for setting signage budgets, our goal would be to reach a mutual understanding about the size and scope of the project and thus be able to establish budget ranges for total implementation as early as possible in the process.

A logical first step in the scope of new work is to visit the site and discuss the project in greater depth. This lets your team evaluate SouthWood as a possible partner for the project, while giving SouthWood a better opportunity to understand client expectations and needs. Out of this meeting will come a clearer consensus on both our parts as to whether we should continue discussions and attempt to formalize an arrangement.

In a typical year, SouthWood will provide signage for approximately 200 clients. Some of these clients may have a single large project, while others may have as many as several dozen smaller ones. Large projects are often phased-in over several years, due to client budgets and priorities. These jobs tend to be planned communities, resorts, large timeshare developments or major corporate identity campaigns. Smaller projects, such as signage for multi-family condos and apartments, senior living facilities or clients with multiple location needs, are another component of our large client base.

SouthWood regularly services large clients and projects, at multiple or distant locations, and with substantial volumes of repeat business. By inference, we are ideally suited, and quite capable, of handling large and complex jobs.

As appropriate, or required, we would be able to provide specific client references and contacts, as well as details about products and services we’ve provided to them. We also welcome prospective clients to visit our 40,000 square foot facility to see and understand our capabilities and the type of work we do for our existing clients.

SouthWood combines planning and design capabilities, with state of the art manufacturing to create a proven formula for unique, effective and appropriate signage.
• Site Surveys
• Wayfinding Analysis and Master Planning
• Image Development and Graphic Design
• Sign Location and Message Planning
• Engineering
• Prototyping
• Manufacturing
• Nationwide Installation
• Sign Program Maintenance
• Interior and exterior signs
• Custom signs and sign programs
• Single signs to large programs
• ADA compliant sign programs
• Roadway and parking structure signs
• Interpretive signage
• Wide range of manufacturing processes
• Broad selection of materials
• Modern 40,000 square foot building housing design studio, administrative offices and manufacturing plant
• Tours available & encouraged
Market Area:
• Thousands of sign programs installed in the U.S. and the Caribbean
• Hospitality, residential, golf and country club, multi-family, senior living, corporate, retail, education, government, medical, and religious institutions.
• Winners of over 40 National sign design awards
• Information sources and authors on branding, signage, and wayfinding
• Speakers and consultants to trade associations and conventions throughout North America
• Published in trade journals and books on branding, wayfinding, and signage
• Approximately 50 employees
• Design staff degreed in advertising, architecture, graphic design, landscape design, stage design, and industrial design
• Experienced manufacturing personnel with advanced degrees in engineering and business
• Full service installers available nationwide
• Consulting account representatives with expertise in branding and wayfinding