Good Vinyl Graphics Company opens in Downtown Brookings
By The Brookings Register
Skateboarders love coating their gear in stickers, says Brian Ahlers, and he was no different growing up. But these days, he’s dealing with stickers of a professional grade: custom vinyl decals.
It’s all through his new business, Good Vinyl Graphics Company, in which he produces and applies vinyl decals to whatever surface a client might need. The decals can be applied to a variety of surfaces from windows to cars, on plastic surfaces or metal.
“For example, if you owned a business and wanted your name on the back window of your truck, I would be able to take your logo and cut that out of vinyl and apply that to your vehicle for you,” he explained.
It’s a straightforward process of collaborating with a client. Sometimes a client needs Ahlers to design a graphic or even a logo as a starting point. “It has started on a napkin, on the back of a business card, a piece of paper. I’ll simply ask the customer, ‘What would you like your company to look like?’” he said.
From there, it’s off to work on graphic software to digitally create the design. Throughout the process, it’s a back and forth with the client, making sure their vision comes through in the end. Once they have the design settled and digitized, then, “I’ll run that through the machine and do the physical production of the signage,” Ahlers said.
That machine is a cutter that uses software to take the images from his computer and cut them out from various materials, in his case, adhesive vinyl. The next goal for him is to acquire a full color printer to increase the variety of graphics he can produce.
Ever since he was a child, there was always a pen in Ahlers’ hand, ready to draw something. In his teen years, the pen was replaced with a skateboard, but his visual inclinations remained and complemented the activity.
“Skateboarders and other extreme sports fans for some reason all gravitate toward stickers. We like stickers a lot; we like to cover everything we own in stickers,” he said. When he began working at a local sign shop, he’d eagerly wait for the chance to fire up the computer and cutter to make some of his own decals, but the opportunity to do so was quite infrequent.
When it came time to enroll in college, he pursued a degree in graphic design at South Dakota State University – for a time. “As much as a logical fallacy as it is, I looked at the other folks in my classes and I was like, these people are better than me at this. This is kind of difficult for me, and I’m going to switch to something else,” he said.
A Brookings native, he’s lived in Albuquerque since September 2014. When he moved back to town this last January, he wasn’t sure what he would do for work. “I was helping my dad do a little bit of a project in our basement and I just offhandedly mentioned that I wished I would have started my sign
company back when I was still in college,” he said.
His father said there was a need for a business to handle those small- to medium-sized jobs in Brookings. Two weeks later, Ahlers had himself a sales tax license and a machine. One more week later, he had an office to work in, with his first clients soon to follow.
The reality of owning his own business sank in when he was introduced to QuickBooks Premier and had to start keeping track of every little thing that happens. “Every mile I put on my car, every square inch of material that I use, every XActo knife blade I buy, all the masking tape, everything.” Still, the feeling of owning his own business and being his own boss is irreplaceable. It was something he aspired to in part because of his parents, who have run their own businesses.
His father founded VJ Ahlers Construction while his mother ran Budget Blinds and then Blinds by Nancy. Of the things he’s learned from them, “I am sitting here surprised at how successful you can be just by going out and talking to people, making connections, putting a face to a name and putting a smile behind it.”
It works because “people will buy things from people they like. That’s something that even the last five weeks of my infant company has been a very true and reliable goal for me.”
Good Vinyl Graphics Company is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 510 Main Ave., Suite No. 9, but because Ahlers goes out to apply the decals, he’s often out of office. He can be contacted by phone at 605-695-9844 or by email at email@example.com.