116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
HIAWATHA — Banacom Signs and More’s new owner grew up with the business.
“I’ve been here ever since I was able to be forced here as a child,” Corey Cooper joked one morning this past week.
In April, Cooper, 48, took over the business parents Helen and Ken Cooper launched in 1986 with a name that combines BANners and COMputers.
“It was paper banners that were laminated,” Cooper said of his parents’ initial product.
Over 35 years, Banacom has evolved to include decals, life-sized cardboard cutouts and vinyl wraps for virtually anything that can carry a message. After working from several area locations the business landed in Hiawatha in 2008.
“We were one of the very first sign companies in the area to get a vinyl plotter” — a tool that cuts the adhesive-backed vinyl that can be applied to almost any surface, Cooper said.
“We had to progress with how technology was progressing. What keeps changing is the type of materials we utilize.”
Owner: Corey Cooper
Address: 111 N. Center Point Rd., Hiawatha
Phone: (319) 393-1952
In the 1980s, an employee might even hand-paint an owner’s identification on delivery vans and other vehicles. That’s now done with digitally printed vinyl sheets applied over the bodywork.
The sheets can measure up to four by eight feet and can be combined to cover buses and semi-trailers. The wraps also can be applied to walls and windows in an office or lobby.
“We take some really good straight-on photos and we take reference measurements,” he said. “We transfer those measurements onto the photo, and scale it up.”
The vinyl panels are easily replaced to keep a business’ public image fresh. Even in the Internet Age, real-world visibility still can make an impression.
“An average vehicle is going to get thousands of views per day,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s clients range from big household names to small businesses much like his own.
“We’re able to accommodate clients that are large-scale corporations all the way down to mom-and-pop, single-order stuff,” Cooper said.
“We’re blessed in that we have a wide spectrum. We have our tried-and-true customer base, and we just keep adding newer (ones).”
Cooper works with many of those small business owners to help develop their identity.
“Some of our clients definitely have a vision of what they want,” he said. “Some of them totally trust us to come up with unique designs.”
Working with other small businesses helped Cooper prepare to take over from his parents.
“There was a lot of advice given by friends and other colleagues that are clients I have firm trust in,” Cooper said. “They provided great advice.”
When COVID-19 precautions brought much routine activity to a halt, Banacom was deemed an essential business. Cooper and his staff — two full-time employees and part-timer — made social-distancing floor decals and informational signs.
Banacom’s laser cutters produced acrylic barriers for store counters, and even helped make components for thousands of protective face shields for area health care providers.
“We were fortunate enough to stay operational,” Cooper said, although supply-chain issues linger.
“It’s definitely made it a little bit more of a struggle,” he said. “You’re not able to get what you’re traditionally used to.”
Keeping current with developing products and materials keeps Cooper and his staff busy.
“The typical time frame had been that lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and January and February were a little slower,” he said. “Over the past year, with us expanding our service lineup, we’ve always got stuff going on.”
“Stuff” that may include rush jobs such as a floor decal for the barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters’ four-point shooting arc.
“They were in town, and it was on a Christmas Eve and there was a blizzard and they needed it by 7 a.m.,” Cooper said.
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