Based on Henwood Industrial Estate in Ashford, Kent, Henwood Signs is a family-run business headed up by Richard and Sharon Wickham, who have over 25 years’ experience in vehicle wrapping, sign writing, branded clothing, and promotional products.
“Henwood Signs came highly recommended to us by an advertiser who has used them for various projects for many years,” said Jamie McGrorty, director at South East Farmer. “Richard has a really good reputation for his attention to detail, which makes a big difference to the longevity of a vehicle wrap or graphic. Companies we have used in the past have literally cut corners and over time the artwork has begun to peel, but Richard has been careful to work around the vehicle, taking off and refitting implements to ensure that the vinyl is applied correctly.”
Benefitting from its own in-house design studio, the South East Farmer and Farm Machinery team were able to create eye-catching artwork under Richard’s guidance and provided model specific vehicle dimensions. Other customers without design capabilities can simply approach Henwood Signs with an idea in mind.
“Whether they have their own images or are starting completely from scratch, we are here to guide customers through the complete process,” said Richard Wickham, owner of Henwood Signs. “We can produce graphics for every vehicle on the UK market and if a farmer wanted something a bit more unusual, like a combine harvester panel or a tractor bonnet wrapping, we could quite easily measure up and create something bespoke.”
The Land Rover Discovery Sport, supplied by Barretts of Kent, will be the magazine’s fifth fully wrapped show vehicle. While the team believes that each design is bolder and better than the last, this current concept is certainly very different, fun and really does stand out on the road.
“When you are driving the vehicle it is quite noticeable how many heads turn to look at the car and the number of people who want to see what is on every side,” said Jamie. “We always wanted to have our company car fully wrapped, not just sign written, because it is a real chance to encompass as many agricultural sectors as possible, from fruit, to arable, livestock and general machinery because we want people to appreciate what farming in the South East is all about.”
Standing up to the elements
With a high-tech digital printer, which can work with a range of different types of vinyl and other media, once the design is approved and ready to go, the process is handled entirely on-site; nothing is outsourced, and Richard is there to oversee every stage of the work.
“One bonus of working with a small family-run business such as ours is that there is just one point of contact,” said Richard. “I look after vehicle graphics and sign writing and will be able to talk through appearance and artwork ideas, before quoting, designing, printing, and fitting the wrap myself. If a customer wants clothing or other branded products, Sharon will help them from start to finish too. We are only ever as good as our last job, so we take quality control very seriously; I am very fussy about what goes out and if it is not good enough for us, it is not good enough for our customers. It always has to be top quality.”
Requiring a full vehicle wrap capable of standing up to the elements over time, Richard used a specially developed vinyl product for the South East Farmer vehicle. This product, which should last 10 years with the correct after care, not only allowed Richard to apply each picture as one whole piece to avoid any visible joints, but the modern technology will also prevent shrinkage and stop the wrap from peeling away.
“The materials are changing and improving all the time because the manufacturers are investing in research and development,” said Richard. “The South East Farmer graphics were printed on a relatively new cast material which needs to be heated to be fitted. This causes it to become pliable and allows me to stretch each piece of artwork over the panels. The material then moulds to the vehicle shape and once applied it is post-heated to a certain temperature. This physically changes the molecular structure of the product to ensure that it will only remember its new shape and cannot shrink back. The vinyl is also designed so that I can fit it by myself and it took around five days to complete.”
As long as it is removed by a professional, having a full vinyl wrap can also help to protect the vehicle’s paintwork and maintain that showroom finish, as the South East Farmer team discovered when the previous vehicle, a Land Rover Freelander, came back from Henwood Signs looking almost brand new and ready for resale.
Standing out on the move
For those who do not want to commit to having the entire vehicle covered in imagery, Richard can also apply part and panel wraps, standard vehicle logos and lettering and reflective vinyl on the front and rear.
“A lot of customers opt to have picture graphics applied to part of the sides and back of a vehicle because pictures really do add to the branding and design and can help ensure that you stand out while you are on the move,” said Richard. “Reflective vinyl is also becoming increasingly popular with those who are often working on the road at night. Especially with something like hedge cutting, if the back or front is covered in reflective material then the vehicle will be more visible to passing traffic and the operator will be safer.”
In addition to vehicle graphics, Henwood Signs works with numerous farmers and agricultural businesses all over the South East, delivering farm signage and a large range of branded workwear, from polo t-shirts and jackets, to hi-vis vests and overalls.
“Everyone needs to wear clothes to work, so why not have it branded to promote the farm or business and save tax at the same time,” said Richard. “We are not like the big internet companies; our minimum order for the clothing is just one item, so even if you are a self-employed contractor, or just have a small team, we can help.”
Don’t forget to wave
As well as being used daily by our journalists for farm and feature visits, throughout the year the South East Farmer and Farm Machinery motor will be attending numerous events, agricultural shows and ploughing matches, including the Weald of Kent Ploughing Match where it can be seen leading the machinery parade. Find us next at the Heathfield and District Agricultural Show on 25 May 2019.