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Sharon Toji

Supp/Mfg./Whole/Assoc. I
  • Content Count

    12
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Sharon Toji last won the day on May 28

Sharon Toji had the most liked content!

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About Sharon Toji

  • Rank
    Floor Sweeper

Profile Information

  • Name
    Sharon Toji
  • Company
    H Toji and Company
  • Job Title
    ADA Consultant
  • City & State
    Lakewood, California
  • Gender
    Female

Previous Fields

  • Company Type
    Vinyl & Digital Shop

Quick Company Info

  • Contact Number
    562 423-6600
  • Address
    3700 Industry Avenue, Lakewood CA 90712
  • Equipment
    Thermoforming Press for ADA signs, router/engraver for making thermoforming molds, large format latex printer.

Recent Profile Visitors

321 profile views
  1. We still have some money from our PPP grant, thank goodness, so today we wrote another salary check, 35 hours to our three full time employees, 15 hours to a couple of part time "as needed" employees. We actually got a couple of emails from some regular customers, like Pepperdine College. We also snagged a new customer, even though it's just tiny vinyl jobs. It is our landlord. I told them that if they would buy their signs from us, we'd just take out the cost of the materials for the time being, and put everything else back into paying them our lease payment. Hopefully a couple of months of that, we'll have made a dent in what we now owe them, and we'll have a good new client for the future. For anyone who sells ADA signs and gets them wholesale, we're working on something new that might interest you, especially if you do color printing and vinyl but don't have any way to do raised characters and braille. We've come out with a new line called "ADA/SterilEaze™." It takes advantage of a change in the ADA Standards from 2010 that almost no one knows about. You can have a completely separate raised character/braille message and corresponding visual message that is much larger, bolder, serif font if you want and placed much higher on the wall. It's just that the information has to be the same identification of the door or floor level. So, in other words, you could have a big hospital room number, say A135, mounted up above where most people could touch it and then down at the legal location have a very small virtually invisible raised sign, also A135, with braille below it. The visual sign's major requirements is that it must have high contrast and be non-glare and not use decorative fonts. The tactile sign doesn't need any color at all and it's even preferable to use tiny 5/8 inch high letters because that makes it easier and faster to read by touch. You could paint it on the back to match the wall color, for instance. Or, you could order a larger tactile plaque and put the company logo on the second surface or a message that says "Did you wash your hands?" or for a religious institution, a scriptural verse. A school might have the school mascot. Obviously, the blind person who only reads by touch is unaware of all this, and it does not interfere with reading the information needed. The good thing is that the tactile sign will be extremely easy and fast to sterilize and it absolutely will not disintegrate or degrade in any way. For anyone who wants to sell ADA signs but can't do thermoforming it gives them an opportunity to provide the visual sign, and to provide any subsurface color or even decoration they might want to add to customize the background of the tactile sign. I should add why it's so important that the sign be thermoformed. Although photopolymer is advertised as a one piece sign, it's not. It's a water soluble gel layer on either plastic or metal. Too much moisture and the braille dots and edges of the characters disintegrate. Metal won't disintegrate, but it needs to be painted, so that's another porous virus catcher, and too much cleaning will eventually start to wear the paint away. You can apply letters and rasters to acrylic, but those signs may also start losing the adhesive adhered letters or braille dots may fall out if they need to be cleaned a lot. Thermoforming is a true one-piece or monolithic piece of molded acrylic with no coating of any kind on the surface required. Because it is molded, you can create perfectly rounded braille dots and also completely rounded character profiles, so its not only very easy to read, but easy to clean. So, we invite all our electrical sign friends who have clients who would benefit, to inquire about our new ADA compliant SterilEaze™ system. Steril-Eaze_Signs.pdf
  2. I don't think it is just Signs and Digital Graphics. The engraving magazine has also been closed down, I think, and they have replaced everything with one publication or maybe newsletter that will cover everything from signs, digital graphics, awards and engraving and stuff like embroidery machines, etc. It's a disappointment to me. S&DG originally had me write their articles on ADA Signs and appointed me as their "Expert" but when I couldn't any longer afford to have a booth at the NBM Show, they dropped me, although i was still listed as their resident "Expert." I had a real fondness for that magazine, since I wrote my very first ADA article for them back in 1992 when they were called "Sign Business" and that really began my career as an ADA sign "expert." I used to write for Signs of the Times, but they pretty much dropped me when I broke with ISA. However, Awards and Engraving Magazine still had me write articles once in a while, and paid me a small stipend for each article, which was welcome. Now, I don't expect to see many ADA items in the new "one size fits all" magazine, which might be on-line only as far as I know. I am getting it on line, and it's mostly just small blurbs about advertisers that pass as articles.
  3. I am fortunate in that the three full time employees left in my business after the debacles of the Great Recession followed by the LAUSD IPad scandal which forced us to refuse to do work for our major client (i.e. Los Angeles Unified School District), are really good people and when we got 8 weeks salary from a PPP loan have readily given up unemployment that was actually more than 30 hrs EFT salary for them. And, they were willing to take 30 hours rather than 40 so we could use 25 percent for rent and utilities, and also so we could write small checks for our three part time "when needed" employees who did installation. We are doing everything we can think of to bring in business, but find it unfair that we shut down as directed, and now find many of our competitors stayed open under the fiction that "signs are communication and communication is essential." The fact is, I think we are lucky to have the governor we do in California, who is careful and listens to science. California was on its way to being a disaster, and because we shut down earlier than some other states, we escaped the worst. Even though we are a huge state, and consequently have more cases than some other states, our numbers are so much lower than New York and New Jersey, as well as a couple of other much smaller states. My own residence county, Orange County, has in some ways defied the orders and had some demonstrations, and is now experiencing a higher number of cases and deaths. We just had our worst day ever. Of course we want to reopen, and hope we will still have some clients. Because our income essentially stopped -- even was slowing greatly in January because building managers were hearing about the virus, and I think put projects on hold we now have built up debt we didn't have before. We were just hanging on, and now the cliff just got a lot higher. But we have been in business 64 years so I'm not giving up without a fight. The more of companies that stay in business, the more money that will percolate through the system, and the more of us will also stay in business.
  4. We came through the recession, and although we had used all our cash resources and had finally seen our staff dwindle and had to stop providing most of our extremely generous benefits, we felt hopeful. Sadly, some of this hope was because many competitors who had badly underbid us to the point where they could not actually provide what was required to complete their contracts, went out of business. We were still standing although badly battered. Now, we hope to also survive, but again, it is sad to hear that some of our possible success in doing so will because we will have less competition. Competition always drives us to do better so we aren't happy to see good competitors close their doors forever. Because of other issues (mostly the IPad scandal at LAUSD), we have never been able to really rebuild since the recession, and have had to downsize to just a sliver of our former selves. That may serve to be a benefit now. We are down to a very small staff, used to making do, squeezed into a smaller space, nursing older equipment along and every member of our small team absolutely stellar. There is no "dead wood," no slack offs on our staff. Maybe that will save us. At 84, I wasn't really working up to my usual speed, but this has strangely energized me, and I am working as hard as I did in my "young years" of just 10 years ago, putting in long days. Yes, we do want to open up again, but we want everyone to be safe, and frankly, we don't expect a rush of business. This is going to be slow, slow, slow, and maybe 30 hours will become the new "full time" rather than just legal "full time equivalent." And maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Maybe more time at home with our families, tending "victory gardens," taking walks, playing board games, zoom meetings with far flung relatives and friends, cooking favorite comfort foods "from scratch," taking personal part in our kid's education a bit more, even if they are back in class, and yes, making beer, would lead to a happier nation, overall.
  5. Over the 35 years I've been in the industry, I have read more ridiculous specs than I could count. It seems that often unpaid interns are cutting and pasting snippets together, and have no idea how signs are constructed. I have actually seen a spec for "acrylic metal sign plaques." We tend to look at the strings of words, pick the one that we can use, and go from there. Another annoying tendency is to provide drawings for signs that conflict with the written specs (and with the codes as well). Sometimes, the notes on the plans conflict with the drawings, which in turn conflict with the specs. Then you have the cases of requirements for plaque sizes that won't accommodate the text. You can't fit the word "Administration" on a 6 inch wide sign if you use legal sized text. We have even resorted to sending drawings showing characters from long words going beyond the margins of the sign, and asked if they wanted those characters suspended with fishing line. This sarcasm became necessary when we were literally ordered to provide signs that met these specifications.
  6. How is it possible for so many contractors, clients and owners to lose paperwork! We finally started spending huge amounts of money first on FedEx, and then USPS certified mail just to get signatures. Then, you prove that you did send it and they did receive it (after it cost you bucks to have the proof) and they say, "well, we can't find it, so send it again." The other story is," the check is cut, and it's sitting on so and so's desk, but he/she won't be back in the office for two weeks to sign it. Sorry!"
  7. We thought we might have turned the corner in 2011 when we almost (not quite) broke even but pretty much retained our gross. But last year was a disaster, due to a lot of perfect storm stuff that I won't go into. Let's say that we no longer will do any installation work for LAUSD! It is hurting us to turn down all our chances to bid, but it's just too risky. We have cut way, way down, still have more stuff to try to sell, and are hoping we won't have to let anyone else go. We are so lean, it's ridiculous! But, we are in a new, much nicer, but much smaller space, and maybe it will give us a new lease on life. We are all enjoying it there. It's light, bright, cheerful, hopeful! Good luck to everyone, and if your electrical business ever needs to do some interior work or exterior wayfinding as well, please ask us. We'll make you look good.
  8. When I was on our local school board back in the early seventies, I was also the Board President of our local Regional Occupation Program (ROP). I really believe in the ROP program, but now it doesn't receive enough funding (just like our community colleges, which are also starving for funding), and has long waiting lists. I also taught cooking in junior high school, along with academic subjects (because I had 12 years of 4-H -- thank goodness, and a mother who taught me how to do all that stuff), and two of my sons took automotive and electronics classes. I went to graduate school in Germany, where they have a fantastic apprenticeship program that many kids benefit from. I even saw apprentices working in gas stations, being carefully trained in everything from customer service to typical repair jobs, and knew people who apprenticed as silversmiths, and potters, and every other possible kind of vocation and craft. This gives people who don't want either a technical (like engineering or medicine), artistic (like conservatory or art school), or academic (university) education a real opportunity to become skilled and ready to work. It's frankly much better, in my opinion, than the union apprenticeship programs, which are limited to just a few trades, and subject to nepotism and other abuses. Our system also throws people into for profit technical schools that charge huge fees, and often don't really provide much for the money. Young people get stuck with loan payments for years, and still may not be qualified for jobs. Although I value my own university education, which was excellent, and want everyone who has an interest in academic subjects to be able to pursue one for a reasonable fee, regardless of their background, I also equally value all the crafts and trades that are so necessary, in my opinion, to our community if we are not going to just be a nation of fast food servers and scam artists. I want us to be able to make things, and repair things, and invent and design things that we can use and sell, even to other countries. Germany's success today relies a great deal on the fact that they are still an industrial country, and they make things for export, things that, on the whole, work well. I'm already seeing a few instances where even custom ADA signs are being imported from countries overseas. Someone has a connection in another country, and actually finds it's cheaper to send art files by email over there, and have the signs shipped here, than to hire American workers. I find that criminal, especially when they are being installed in American schools at taxpayer expense! Frankly, I'd much rather see us legitimatize immigrant workers here, and have them paying taxes here, and buying their daily purchases here, than see companies saving money by shipping jobs to other countries. Those foreign workers don't spend a penny here in this country, nor do they pay any taxes here. Thank about it! Sharon Toji
  9. I am trying to reach you to give you a contact number. Call me at 949 929 6512. Sharon Toji
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