By Erik Sine
I'm all for making changes in your life, whether it's personal or perhaps a career change.
But sometimes you have to wonder who it is that runs your industry, or the people who can influence changes in your industry. I've always had questions that for these trade groups that never got answered and always wondered the "why's" behind some important decisions or omissions to act that took place, and continue too.
I've run into people who one day sold lift gates for commercial trucks then the next day their LED salesmen for a LED manufacturer telling me that LEDs are the best thing on the market in comparison to other light sources AND in all phases. When you ask a question in comparison to traditional light sources they haven't a clue but they may know more about their like competitors, or at least have those selling points that were handwritten down for them memorized. Maybe it's me, but I would feel a little better talking with a salesmen from someone with our or my background in "Signs".
Sometimes the butt of the joke about shoddy sign installation is that one day the vinyl sticky guy became the electric sign installer that day for their company and we get new pics submitted into our Hall of Shame. But, at least that sticky guy has some sort of relationship to what he was doing and maybe he was able to make a better effort than say the lift-gate salesman would have been able to because at least the sticky guy who has seen signs before could at least better guess what needs to be done and make a better "best guess" effort.
Ever look at the make or resume background on individuals of our Trade Associations and wonder "why" they are there and serve our industry? I'm not talking about the volunteer base made up of some of our finest men and women presently in the sign industry. I'm talking about the "core" employed group who pay themselves from the non-profit. Sometimes we see some wacky decisions being made and anyone in the sign industry asks "why?", why did they do that, or why did they stand and do nothing? Some of these longtime rhino's have backgrounds similar in comparison I just made to the lift-gate guy turned LED salesmen.
We just had the International Sign Association gobble up all the other little sign associations like Pac-Man and I'm still NOT clearly understanding the "Why". I know what the selling point was. This was a decision made and pushed by the "core" association employed group rather than the volunteer base. The base still is not clear to this day but they went along with it anyway and a vote was pushed very fast to get this past before anyone could fully understand what they were voting on, sort of like healthcare (don't worry...we'll figure it out later). I mean, they hired an outside consultant to tell them how to push this along. I know that pic below that was made for a past thread involving the globalization or gobble up of our local associations is a bit extreme, or is it? If nothing else you could say it's metaphoric, maybe even call it a political cartoon that has a little humor to it. But both terms have an ounce of truth to it, otherwise it wouldn't fit.
Do some of these Lift-Gate people from somewhere else have our industries intentions best at heart? Do they hold the same values and "traditions" of our industry at heart too? How can they, do they have that ability to turn that emotion on like a switch? Can you be a lift-gate salesmen one day and be in the sign industry and "know" our past traditions to shape a better tomorrow?
Sometimes some very bad decisions get made which can effect us all.
I don't know if a decision to act or omission made is there to kill a part of our trade IS made out of ignorance because their more or less acting on limited information which they deem legit (because it was lift-gate sales one day and signs the next), it can even be said that they become a puppet to the puppet master who is a large light source mfg who's intent is to sell their products over all others and thus get the trade association to help push legislation or stand down from legislation so that it will benefit their cause or business in the form of asking the government to pic a winner, or leave fewer option for the consumer.
I get an accountant can be plugged into a sign industry position from a lift-gate industry, as well as a few other areas. But what about the big decisions? The ones that affect what you and I sell or produce? Even though some would like to commoditize what we do, and bastardize our industry by inserting, selling, plugging in whatever can make a quick buck. I think the hiring process for these positions need to be left for those within our industry, for those who have worked in the sticky department, to the guy who installs a pylon or wall sign, and everything in-between. Otherwise, why work for an association for a trade you have no experience in or find akin too? Aren't associations left for those who are involved in their own industry, or is it just a job?
I've always been a firm believer that the best sign salesmen or women are the ones who have fabricated a sign and installed a sign. That's my belief, opinion and I'm sticking to it. Bullshitters are a dime a dozen, and we're not used car lot. We fabricate and install the best illuminated branding there is, most of time the sign becomes the hallmark and landmark, it's the face of a business. When they think of a business they don't quickly generate a thought of the retail shelves stocked with goods, or the bellhop or pool, they think of the sign lighting up on the street.
Anyway, you're probably asking why you're even reading this thread, and what the purpose is. Why the hell did I start it? I did because I got wind that Rich Gottwald left the Vice Presidentship of the International Sign Association (Or maybe he's doing two jobs now like so many other concurrent association people) and became the CEO of the Pool and Spa Trade Association . No knock on him personally even though he still could/would not legitimately answer some important questions to some my "why" questions which almost heavily impacted our trades traditions. I just hope that he at least owns a spa in his backyard moving forward to his new position. But the news struck curiosity in me. I did some quick research and discovered he went from a plastic association guy to signs, to now pool and spa's. Some other high ranking association core group members also came from the plastic association group before the International Sign Association. Is this trade group one of the same perhaps?
Again, I'm all for career change and sometimes people are all-stars no matter where they go. Sort of like gifted athletes, it doesn't matter what kind of ball you put in their hands their just naturally gifted so I can't speak in detail. I sincerely wish Mr. Gottwald the best and hope for whoever replaces him is someone who comes from a Electric Sign Background, and not someone who lobbies to the "Green" movement, or someone who has a marketing background from within their present ranks.
I just genuinely want whoever can be the best fit to help our industry. Someone who has a good vision, and remembers our past, and holds our traditions best at heart. Someone who can take into account what the rhino volunteer base has to say, have the knowledge to debate them and make an educated, industry based decision on that. I want someone who's not looking with the intent to stand around and let a bill pass that affects our industry just so they can get the association to turn that new regulation into a program to sell to our industry.
Maybe it's just wishful thinking.....just my open aired thought for this Tuesday