Every General Contractor knows that each construction project has its own unique sets of goals that need to be met and challenges that need to be handled along the way to ensure a successful build. One way that General Contractors help mitigate these challenges and effectively complete construction on-time is by hiring specialized sub-contractors who through their own unique expertise help provide insight and solutions to help complete the project effectively and efficiently.

In the Signage Industry, sign companies are brought on at various points of the planning process by General Contractors and at times larger Sign Companies help to handle installation work. In this article, we’ll break down what helps make for an effective contractor-subcontractor relationship, and we’ll discuss how sign companies can assist projects as subcontractors.

What makes for a successful relationship between a contractor and a subcontractor?

As with any relationship, there are key elements that make for a successful working relationship.

Strive for Success

First and foremost, a contractor and subcontractor must both be striving for success with the project, which means together each team has their eyes on the goal of a timely, effective build out. By ensuring all parties are on the same page you’re more likely to achieve success.


One of the primary ways to achieve this is to ensure all parties are communicating together effectively. Though each subcontractor may have their own way of working within their team, ultimately its crucial that they are able to share information as needed with the GC and other teams in a timely, effective manner. Communication above all else is crucial.

Quality of Work

At Ortwein Sign, we include “Pride of Work” as one of our Core Values, and that means as well we always strive to achieve high quality workmanship for our clients and for any job on which we are a subcontractor. It is imperative that when working on a project as a subcontractor that you have an understanding of your role and that you can ensure quality results for your part of the project.


As with any project, General Contractors have a goal in mind for when a project should be completed by and must be completed by (and oftentimes those are one and the same.) Therefore it’s important when looking for a subcontractor to find one who is up front and honest about their present workload and their ability to complete a project on time. Likewise its essential to communicate any delays as they arise, so the General Contractor has the most relevant information in a timely fashion.

Cost Management

GCs are not only worried about the timeliness of a project but also the ultimate cost of the project. This is why it’s important for subcontractors to also be mindful of the budget and any costs or overruns they foresee or encounter with the project. Again communication is key, especially prompt communication, when conveying any concerns.

Legal and Compliance Considerations

GCs have a lot on their plate to consider when working on a new project, and by having experts who have their own specific certifications and know-how regarding permitting, local codes, etc. subcontractors can play a major part in the success of the project by utilizing their own expertise.

Ultimately the success of the sum of the project is made up by the success of all its parts, and that’s why it’s essential to have a strong relationship between contractors and their subcontractors. Strong communication, cost management, quality and timeliness, and using one’s own unique strengths all help ensure a project is a success.

How are subcontractors utilized in the Signage Industry?

Signage Subcontractors play a variety of roles on projects, including at the start of a project and even near its end. We’ll discuss the various times and ways that a sign manufacturer such as Ortwein Sign might be brought in as a subcontractor.

Design Stages

Architects are trained to have a broad knowledge base when it comes to designing a build; however, architects may still want to (and often do) lean on sign companies for their expertise in either assisting with designs or developing designs. This can include work as a subcontractor designing interior or exterior sign plans.


Sign companies, including but not exclusively national sign companies, may be hired by clients out of their area for a job. In this case, these sign companies may hire sign companies int he area to fabricate the signs for them. They may also hire sign companies in different regions of the country and then ship these signs to a subcontractor who may install the signs.


There are many sign companies that are either national sign companies or that may have clients outside their region, and in this case these sign companies need installation services for their clients. This often means they will contact a company such as Ortwein Sign, with our expert installation team and fleet of cranes, to serve as their local installer in the regions we cover. When hired as a subcontractor we then work together with the primary sign company to establish the cost of the project, the timing, permitting for the job, and of course the installation itself.


Oftentimes national companies, including franchises, will work with a sign partner who handles their signage for all their locations. This company may not have an installation presence however near every one of these franchise locations, and in that case they will hire a subcontractor who can help remove old signage and install any new signage as part of their rebrand.

Service, Retrofits, and Repair Needs

Whether it’s a franchise business, or a national company, there are many larger corporations who work with a specific sign partner. This partner may not have a location nearby all their office locations, in which case should there be a need for sign service, be it a repair or a retrofit, they may call in a trusted partner like Ortwein Sign to handle the sign repairs or retrofits.