Sawatzky Guest Blog: No Time Like the Present to Plan for Your Future

Coastal Enterprises, manufacturers of Precision Board HDU, is proud to announce a series of guest blogs written by Dan Sawatzky of Imagination Corporation, which will be posted on the Precision Board Blog each month. This month Dan Sawatzky talks about using the current COVID-19 down time to work on samples for your showroom or to spend time on your own shop sign, all with future sales and business in mind.


In Dan’s own words…

We are all in an unprecedented situation without a doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many sign makers are sitting at home waiting this out. Others are still able to go to work but projects and business has undoubtedly dried up in the last weeks for most shops. It is a distressing situation and far beyond our own control.

In our home-based business we are able to keep going for now. We have a large project that will keep us busy for a few more weeks yet but future projects are all suddenly on hold. We simply do not know when things will resume once more.

I’m not one that can simply sit idle and wait it out. While I understand the situation is unbelievably serious I still find myself looking towards the future. This is a wonderful opportunity to do some of those things we’ve long been putting off.

I’m asking myself, as I did during the great recession, what do I want to be doing when the good times return? We know they always do. It is time to get ready. When business resumes you will need to have some great samples to show your customers if what you wish to do is out of the ordinary.

For me that means it is time to make some samples for our studio walls. They don’t have to be large but each one should push the boundaries of what you are capable of. This is the chance to use up all those scraps of Precision Board HDU we’ve been hoarding. It’s a great time to learn that new software to do it. And it’s time to brush up on some new sculpting and painting skills.

During the last financial crisis I made the commitment (to myself) to make one outstanding sample per month. If things slow down or even stop for a while you should be able to do more than that.

Those samples I invested in the last time brought us many hundreds of thousands of dollars of work since then and still serve us well to this day.

Start small and with each project push a little further than ever before. I have made many name plaques for family and friends. Next Christmas when money may well be a little tight they will make great presents. These name plaques are a great way to experiment and learn new textures and finishing techniques.

I had time to make some more elaborate projects as well with time on my hands. I designed and made samples of the kinds of signs I wanted to make in the future.



I used that time to create a showroom full of samples that would make my clients gasp when they entered. There are more than a hundred and fifty hanging on our walls. These samples helped sell this kind of work in the ten years since they were created.

One of those many small sample projects was this model of the OGOPOGO (A fabled lake monster that resides in Okanagan Lake)

Last year a client saw the model I had done eleven years ago and ordered a full sized version. Last week we delivered it to our customer. Sample work!!!!

As we think about projects to give us the best opportunities in the future we absolutely should not forget about our own signs. What image do you want to present to your future customers? Your own sign should reflect the very best work you can possibly do. We made this sign during the last slowdown. It has won numerous awards, been featured in various magazines and most importantly brought us a ton of wonderful work. You will never have a better opportunity to create a showstopper for yourself!

We extended our creative efforts to all sorts of ‘home’ projects. They raised the bar for our future paying projects.

If you are stuck for ideas or how to proceed I would recommend browsing through the blog I created for Precision Board that features many of these projects (Ed note: that blog is no longer updated, but Dan continues to write monthly guest blogs like this one for the main blog). There are plenty of step-by-steps to help you along.

You have time NOW!

Stay well and be safe. Use your quiet time to get a head start on the good times in the future!


Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation is a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous national and international awards.

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force and visual storyteller extraordinaire. His art career spans almost fifty years of magic. Dan’s passion is to design and create imaginative places that take people from the normal world to a setting of delight and wonder.

Coastal Enterprises manufactures Precision Board HDU, a versatile, cost-effective and eco-friendly urethane sign material that is particularly effective for making professional-looking indoor and outdoor dimensional signs.  It is a closed-cell rigid substrate that does not rot, warp or crack.  You can request free samplesget a quote or sign up for periodic newsletters packed with helpful information.