The idea behind the website WrapperMapper.com was a simple one, but nobody had thought of it before Tim Evans did.
“We are a full-service wrap shop here in Ohio, and we had a large mobile medical vehicle that we needed help with,” says Evans, whose shop, Pro Sign & Graphics, is in Columbus. “Of course, it was on the other side of the country, so rather than spending travel time and effort and resources to have that done, we wanted to find another installer to help us out – pretty common in our industry.”
So he did what his and other shops typically did in such a situation: he went on the 3M certified website to look up certified installers in the area where the vehicle was. His loyalty is to 3M, he says, but Avery Dennison offers the same sort of information on its certified installers.
The problem was, Evans says, the vehicle wasn’t in a major metro area, it was located in a small town, so finding the nearest shop – not being that familiar with the area – wasn’t easy.
“Before I know it I’ve got half a dozen Google map screens up and I’m trying to correlate where everyone is compared to the project – it was just a big pain in the butt,” says Evans. “I had already blown 30 to 40 minutes trying to figure this out and it was at that point that the light bulb kind of went off and I went, ‘You know what? I’ll bet I can solve this problem.”
The solution he came up with was WrapperMapper.com, an online database of wrap installers. Since that epiphany two years ago he’s gotten approximately 700 shops signed up on the site, including installers from all over North America, Europe, Australia, and even ones in Brazil, Poland and South Africa.
“Originally it was just designed to be a free tool to solve my problem, and then when I started talking about it on LinkedIn (and) a couple of other sites, it just kind of exploded from there,” Evans says.
To register, installers simply visit the website and sign up. Evans himself vets all the shops to make sure they’re legitimate wrappers, “not a sign shop that occasionally wanders around and does a wrap job.”
Shops can list themselves for free, or they can pay a nominal fee for a premium listing, something, so far, not many have taken advantage of, he says. But the site that he built and manages was never designed as a moneymaker in the first place.
“Initially, the whole point was just, ‘There’s a problem – I’m going to solve the problem, and maybe everybody else will kind of like the idea,'” Evans says. “And apparently they have.”
Searches can be conducted based solely on certification. Wrappers often tend to be loyal to a certain brand, he says, so while he will always tend to search out other 3M shops, another could just as easily be a fan of Avery Dennison.
You can even conduct a search for non-certified installers.
“There’s lot of wrappers that are very skilled and very professional but maybe they just haven’t bothered to get a certification,” Evans says. “That’s fine, they’re legitimate shops and they can be on the maps, but unless you’ve gone through the proper steps to get that certification I’m not going to list it for you.”
You can also search by state or by ZIP code or just do a manual search.
Bringing up the main maps page for the U.S., for example, shows circles over various regions of the country that have a number in them. The circles are different colors based on how many installers are in that region. Drilling down will then show the individual shops.
Evans is proud to say that Wraps legend Justin Pate is a fan of his site. The two met up at a trade show, and Pate now promotes WrapperMapper.com on his The Wrap Institute website.