By Janet Preus
Fabric fencing, from orange plastic grids to drab windscreens, is fairly ubiquitous, quite necessary and generally unattractive. But it doesn’t have to be.
The fact that there are companies that do almost nothing but printed fencing indicates that there is a market for printed fabric fencing. Everywhere a fabric fence is used for boundaries, safety, privacy or to hide an ugly mess, a printed fencing product could provide a more attractive solution. “It really is an unlimited market,” says Jonathan Sidy, who founded www.fencefabric.com (now fencefabric.net) four years ago. His company offers a variety of proprietary stock images on its fencing products and custom designs.
Sidy’s concept materialized when he was a landscaper and he put up a fence for his neighbor. Sidy thought it would be great if he could have foliage on the fence that matched what he planted until the real foliage grew up. That meant that he had to have a long-lasting product, which he says is extremely important. He uses three products: solid scrim, solid block-out and PVC-coated mesh, but he says a printer could use “whatever works with your equipment,” as long as the image, the fabric and the finished product all say “quality.” Once a customer has seen the benefits of a printed fence for one project, wouldn’t they be more likely to think of it in another scenario as well?
Would your customer like a custom-printed rendering of what’s going to be behind all that fence when construction is completed? Or how about an image of a flower garden, a lush cascade of ivy or a sturdy brick wall? A printed fence shows that you care about creating a more pleasant environment. It also makes that location stand out, and, paired with some thoughtful market research, a custom product presents a huge opportunity for advertising exposure.
It’s just a matter of making the first move. You are already printing, you know how to cut, sew, attach grommets and do all the other things to make banners, signs, awnings and exhibits. If you aren’t offering printed fabric fencing as an option to your existing customers, you might be missing an opportunity to create a new market with little or no investment, depending on what your shop fabricates now.
Is there a fence around your property? That might be a good place to start.