The small business crafts custom signage for brands big and small, relying on Dropbox Business to collaborate with clients and colleagues in remote locations.

Martin Sign Company, a design company

Martin Sign's Key Results

Martin Sign Company, a design company

More fluid collaboration with clients

Increased productivity through mobile access

Better control over company creative assets

The challenge

Signing off on a new venture

After 12 years of working for a large sign shop, Martin Wall decided that he especially liked the “Grand Opening” sign. Martin Sign Company was born in 2011, giving the art major a chance to develop his own handcrafted signs for the SF MoMa museum, reservations service OpenTable, and other customers. For the first time, Wall not only had creative freedom, but also the freedom to run his business the way he wanted. At his previous job, Wall wasted precious time relying on DVDs and external drives to send designs to clients. His old company’s server was not exactly user-friendly either. “The minute you left the company premises, you couldn’t access any of your files,” says Wall. Martin Sign Company’s first location was a 700-square foot “closet” in San Francisco’s Mission District, where Wall and business partner Matt Cella could keep in sync through frequent conversations and emails. But after hiring the company’s first designer, the email traffic picked up considerably. Having used a personal Dropbox account for sharing his personal art projects, Wall decided to move to Dropbox Business to help keep files in order at work. “We needed to get professional, and we already knew and loved Dropbox,” he says. “We really wanted to invest in the right technology and make sure we were staying current.”

The solution

Collaborating in and out of the office

Now with 10 employees and over 2,000 clients, Martin Sign Company uses Dropbox Business throughout its design and installation process. To collect design files from clients, employees use file requests or invite clients to shared folders. A bakery chain, for example, submits its menus to Martin Sign over Dropbox, making it easy for employees to know they’re working off the latest version. “Clients know exactly where to send us their art,” says Wall. “Or when they ask us to generate a proof, they can easily review and comment on our ideas.” And the artwork is just the start. Clients also upload photos of where the sign will be placed so that installers know which materials to use. “It takes several renditions to get a sign perfect,” says Wall. “Instead of searching through a flooded email inbox, we know where the most recent version is in our Dropbox folders.” As the team has grown, Dropbox Business has also let Martin Sign employees stay productive wherever they work. One designer moved to Wisconsin for family reasons, Wall says. “With Dropbox, we were able to keep him because he could work remotely,” Wall says. “It’s like he never left.” When employees are on job sites, they can pull up artwork from Dropbox on their phones. And after a contractor finishes a job or employees leave the company, Wall uses account transfer in the Admin Console to move the project files to the new team member. This way, no one misses a beat.

The results

Saving money, investing in growth

Dropbox Business has helped make Wall’s dream of running his own company a reality, Wall says. “I know a lot of business owners spend around $25,000 on a server,” he says. “That’s a ton of money we saved by using Dropbox instead, while getting easier access to our files.” Wall adds that Dropbox has enabled the company to adapt to a changing market. When he started Martin Sign Company, Wall says he was primarily focused on the creative side of the business. But Dropbox has helped him make the company a better employer and supplier, he says. “With Dropbox Business’ flexibility, I can easily add a user at a moment’s notice or make a client’s life easier by sharing art in a folder,” he says. “That scalability has allowed us to grow a lot faster than I thought was possible as a small business.”

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