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Erik Sine

My thoughts on the 2012 ISA Expo

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This ISA Expo was very interesting I have to say so I thought I'd start a new thread from our Sign Syndicate Meet & Greet thread instead of taking a tangent.

It wasn't as big as Vegas as I've commonly heard but that's not even important. It took us about 1 and a half days to see everyone we wanted to, or at least we tried to see everyone. Kirstie & I had the most interesting conversations I think we've ever had to date. We had a lot of people tell us their glad to have The Sign Syndicate around, and what it brings to the industry, and what it represents in their minds. We had a select few figure out who we were and give us dirty looks, or say "Oh, you're the one who questioned me about the 90% saving" and walk away from us. We also learned how certain companies just, "Screw" their employees, or companies putting the screw on the industry in general as if certain sectors of our trade weren't already bad enough, but let's just say they covered up that one with "doing it for the reason of safety".

The industry has a bright side to it too.

To see a lot of Father and Son companies composed of both custom sign shops and vendor/manufacturers, the same can be said for husband and wife. This family business IS refreshing and rejuvenating. These type of businesses tend to build, prolong pass on "Tradition" (Which is my word for this thread), keep integrity, honesty in our industry. Some have been around for a very, very long time. From Grandfather, to even great grandson.

I think every sign company in our industry needs to make it a tradition to make an annual trip and visit a sign industry convention, be is the International Sign Association or others NO MATTER how busy you are. There's something more important about meeting and greeting face to face, rather than by phone, or in cyber space. Every manufacturer / distributor needs to do the same, whether they have a booth or whether they just show up to stroll the convention floor, you don't need a booth, BUT You need to show up, it's part of YOUR responsibility!

I also got to see/hear a dark side, the side that tears this industry apart from the inside. When something tears apart from the inside it's much worse than something that comes from the outside. This comes when the most important characteristic of "tradition" is thrown out the window along with integrity, and honesty.

It's disgusting to me how some of these manufacturers do in their own. It's sickening to see a company that was once generational, family orientated filled with long time "tradition" halls that once echoed the past, tear itself up from the inside out by the one who was groomed for the position (What's up with some of this generation?). All those years of family/business tradition, character, mowed over in an instant, perhaps even with a simple name change, new look. The old generation is dead, so their not looking anymore? So let's behave selfishly, lie, cheat and steal, anything to sell and throw ourselves in the forefront? We've seen it, we've seen these same people throw themselves in the forefront of trade magazines, their in leadership positions within our associations.

Now character is part of that individuals personal code, sometimes these hard times bring out the best of us, sometimes it can amplify us much worse.

I have a new word/label for those who find themselves forgetting or tossing out our industries "Traditions", loosing their "Integrity" and "Honesty". These individuals are....the "Fallen", and their all around us, seeking or trying to maintain position. They don't care about doing what's right, they only want to do what comes easy, Get what's coming for them. They want to "stay" in position, and they'll do anything to keep themselves there.

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I think in our own government we see a lot of this, it in no way benefits the rest of us if individuals in our leadership will do anything to keep themselves there, selling out our industry "traditions", integrity, and honesty. They'll sell out our freedoms and liberties too for their own personal gain and glory.

Like any government or leadership body, there are factions within that body or makeup that don't see eye to eye. There are the "Do Nothings", the "Do Very Littles", and the real leaders who we need in this industry who, well....can't do much. Why can't they do much? Because a lot of the people within are willing to do what comes easy rather than do what's right. Sometimes these real leaders usually give up and exit because they just see it all as senseless, they won't compromise on their "values, integrity, principals nor give up traditions", and we loose our best this way. See, it's very hard for people to give up what they think is control and power. At times, most of the real leaders just step down after they feel they've served their time, it's not about ego or control for them, it's about "duty".

I'm a parent like many of you. In a sense as we get older, and for those that care about our industry, the industry is sort of like our child. We'll put what we can into it, instilling/maintaining character, integrity, honesty and we'll pass on what values we have, most of all we will install our longtime "Traditions". "Traditions" is what's important, traditions of our industry are literally being SOLD out. That's what's killing our industry from the inside out by the "Fallen", they've forgotten, therefore they forget us and certain aspects of our trade.

Now, when you love something like our children, you only TRULY love them, when you can give them up, so that they can go their own way, otherwise it's not love, it's control. You have to be willing to raise something with all you had and be prepared to let it go and possibly loose it, whether it will love you back, stay around or not.

As you can tell, and if you follow what I write, you'll know I'm now mostly talking about our associations, I am. I've observed and written about them for a while and this trip just confirmed, it surprised me in a lot of ways, both in good ways and bad.

Like anything else that starts, it started with VERY good intentions. When the founding of these associations first started way back before my time it was started by a group of individuals who came together with similar concerns, much similar to this site who is made up of individuals who became/are concerned about the way they can conduct business and maintain to put food on the table for their family from the government and bureaucratic control, or from monopolies. They soon band together and decided that they wanted to maintain their "traditions" to pass on to their kids and not compromise their values. They didn't want government our outsiders to come in and take away what they built and knew "to do", or make regulation on top of regulation destroying the very industry they love.

Traditions", what is that?

How many of us who have been in this business from generation to generation can look back, thinking about the days when we were young and observing the things our grandfather and father loved to do, the signs they built, the "craftsmanship", the discipline it took to achieve, the stories they told of good days and bad?

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I have none of that.

In fact, I wonder why I'm here, and why I care so much. I have no memories and stories to relay about the sign days of old because I'm the first, and I'll probably be the last for me. But what I do have are the stories about my Grandfathers hard work. Primarily, the Character of my Grandfather who grew up in the Great Depression. The sacrifices he took in order to put the family first. Being the oldest boy of seven siblings who stopped going to school in the seventh grade, sacrificing his own future to better the family. I'm not going to bore you with family history but he did much more later in life. Principles, sacrifice, values, family, were very much a very big part of his character, even bigger was the fact that never talked about it like it was a big thing, to him it was just the right thing to do, and he never complained about it or looked to be recognized for it. Where did this generation go? That's why we call them the "Greatest Generation".

THAT idea, of what they started so long ago before I was born and executed into an organization is so FAR gone and SO far out of site with a contrast so noticeable it's like standing on one side of the Grand Canyon and looking at the other side wondering when/how it split. That "tradition" of "Us" is gone. The model of "traditions" and high standards is broken. That's what's wrong with the existing model, OUR traditions have been stepped on, pieced away, and the colors of those mantle traditions have been so washed out and tattered, their symbol of what "Tradition" is now a doormat.

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Our Traditions have been under assault for a very long time and our leadership as trade magazine media or associations have done nothing, in fact, they've done quite the opposite, instead of protecting as they were originally founded/intended and promised to uphold, they've enabled the abuse and annihilation of it in the form of Fear Marketing (something that's executed and never explained) and failing to have the courage of doing what's right .

Those founders with the original idea aren't here anymore.

That's why this site is so important, it's about preserving and maintaining the character and traditions of our trade, and having people who believe in our traditions and maintaining/bringing character BACK in our trade.

There are those that care about our industry in leadership positions still, and there are those that are only in it for personal gain, coupled with self promotion, their ego, they've let the relationships that they built dictate their decision to compromise their own core values and do what comes easy.

We have to help those who have our like values, and care about preserving "Tradition" that we hold in high regard that are in these organizations who stand alone, because they're still there. The associations need to make some amendments within their own organization and realize that they need to limit their time in privileged positions . They need to know the importance of term limits, they need to realize carrying positions concurrently throughout different associations is NOT a positive position/stand to be in any longer, because the model has changed.

For a positive change in our industry, and in order to protect and preserve our industries "Traditions and Values" It will require self sacrifice, it will be to say there is "NO" compromise with those who wish to maintain power who put their own ego and self serving agenda's first. I would ask in the name of preservation, moves be made to limit time one can stay in board positions. If you truly love something YOU have to be able to let it go. Let it go, and you will always have a home here.

I'm sure of the fact, and almost dead certain to say that if those founders were here today and still in business they would be shocked/appalled to know what's happened to their original idea about preservation of tradition, and how unprotected and cheapened this industry has become, and those who have allowed it. I'm confident enough in my thought to say they would be instead VERY outspoken members here, and ready to start a new movement. Similar to the little boy who everyone came to love in those classic pictures illustrating Benjamin Franklin flying his kite to discover electricity with his son, who's relationship would make a turn for the worst and would put Father and son on the opposite sides in the struggle in the founding of this country.

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You see, they started to protect our way of doing business from government control and regulation. They wanted those entities out of our lives. They wanted to protect, honor traditions, values, instill principals from one generation to another when they left their business to their children. If they could see how these days, the new idea is too understand regulation, help/enable it, and turn it into a program for it's members or make it a way to help those they've built deep rooted relations with. Yes, I think I'm dead certain they would be very outspoken members here, and I'm sure it hurts those who are in an association or trade magazine, or who have long family history to read this, and come to grips with this reality.

Now, the positive spin to this. Yes, the sky is not falling just yet.

Every so often, when an idea takes a radical change and goes in another course there will be a generation that will come along, realize and understand that history has been forgotten, realize traditions are no longer held high as a standard to live by, realize integrity is lost, realize the model of values/principals is broken and the "Fallen" have multiplied and they have hijacked the establishment.

That generation is now, it's you and I. You may or may not agree with me, but at least you're hearing about it, and you can't say you weren't told.

I saw that, this last week, I saw it in a lot of big companies, I saw it in a lot of family business's, I saw it in association members whether their in the volunteer base or in the employed core. I see it when people help people, whether it benefits you to step up and do so or not. They say honor is doing what's right whether there is anyone there to witness you doing so or not, this is still here.

I think there are some movements that we need to support above all others to make a change back to where we should be, and we don't need entities organizations to do it for us.

I'd like to start here, so much has already started here, this is the new ground zero to getting back and keeping "tradition" alive. I want to see more participation, more people "show up", stop the lurking. If you commonly use this site and it benefits you by the information you gain here, support this site, if it helps you to learn about the people who pay on time and who to stay away from so you don't go out of business, then support this site. Upgrade your membership to a Board Patron or Vendor, get the extra benefits of doing so like light source testing results, tutorials, advertising packages, benefits that can help your business and benefit others at the same time. I honestly don't think we're that far off from having something bigger, and having the ability to group our own electrical engineers to protect and reverse/make motion to what's already been done. I don't think we're that far off to showing up in front of the CEC, or DOE, NEC panel on our own, just better organized with the right/pure intentions of preservation of our traditions. So much has been lost in such a short time, so much irreversible damage in mis-characterization that will take such a long time to repair, but it won't come on it's own.

Remember and understand, you always read about Sign Associations coming in to combat regulation, it's not always in their best interest, or personal interest to do so. They always market/champion the idea it's ONLY them, it's not, there are individual manufacturers and entities that fight for these causes too. WE can couple with them too, they who have a bigger interest than self-preservation or finding a benefit to fold and turn it into a program, BUT a way in maintaining the way we do business and being able to conduct it "Freely".

What the Fallen don't understand is, sometimes "Doing Nothing" is much better than doing something, just like politicians. Sometimes we don't need to make adjustments or add code to the way we manufacture signs and components. Some individuals think that they need to "do something" to make it appear they are doing something, sometimes consultants THINK they need to justify money being spent on them so they must "do something". Every time you "Do Something" we LOOSE something.

Let me tell you something. I KNOW it's broken when I ask a key employed association member who started, who originated a movement/motion in a volunteer base energy subcommittee, a committee who then voted and agreed to move forth with more regulation to the NEC panel that would have DEVASTATED the already barely breathing neon industry of our trade, a long standing "Tradition", AND then tell me they don't know who it was that came up with such a motion. I had another association member who's deep rooted within tell me "That's bullshit he doesn't know!....he should know".

As if the omissions to act in mis-characterizations done my trade magazines and associations themselves in the public opinion arena weren't enough, now they have to find a code to kill it, to speed up the process, some of those have their own agenda for doing so, either that or they just simply want to justify their existence and should not be in the position they are in. Enabling ways to kill our "Traditions".

Now, I'm not saying that key person I asked is being deceitful with me, but if they don't know when they should, then what does that say about the model and chain of responsibility to check and verify? How well do they know what they're being told that doesn't lead into serving an agenda? How well do they know their own people that have been in their organization for a VERY long time?

There are some within these associations that have no business being there in the first place, they are just there to make themselves look pretty, adjust their tie before entering a conventions floor and say "I belong, I'm important", a way to get something or position themselves for something later on. Why would you and I want people in these associations who have important roles that can make a difference, and can have the ability to affect when it comes to legislation to stand in important industry workshops and hearings and not speak up, not have the moral courage, fortitude, to say or do what's right. Instead make the conscious decision to not stand your ground, and let someone from the energy commission or utility company mis-characterize the lighting aspect of our industry, make false statements, make poor ridiculous comparisons that hurt and devastate this industry. Why would you want someone who will stand by, who is representing us in important matters, and allow themselves to get ROLLED on? Is it because their more concerned about their future relations at the next meeting, or how they might look, is it picking relations over principal? Where is the fight? Do we live in France? Can we hear a couple of gun shot first before we get run? Where is our brawler, our Champion? Are they afraid of conflict?


What else can be done?


The Environmental / Product Safety Movement.


Other ways we can defeat this industry capitalism killer is to support it's competition, we start a new movement to stop making a 500 lbs. gorilla even bigger, I'm talking about U.L.,

U.L. Who has gotten so far out of hand with regulation and cost in our industry. An entity who has, enabled and even used as a tool by some with an agenda to annihilate our traditions by creating new code, creating new ways to build profit farms all under the guise of "safety". This is the Environmental, Product Safety movement/machine, that robs us of our god given liberties and freedoms of doing business and robbing our us of our personal liberties, and all at the same time driving up cost and taking incentive away from the inventor.

They are getting so big they are buying up all these environmental labs to build their new UL-E or underwriter Laboratories Environment (which OUR associations & trade magazines endorse/promote) which does nothing more than build a fictitious standard to measure the fictitious Green movement. Well who do you think gets stuck with the bill??? Us, YOU! They have to justify costs for all these acquisitions and new charges to us, so what better way then to expand in areas not required by OSHA standards set on other listing laboratories.

So to combat this machine we must look and encourage, put our money into their new biggest competitor, MET Laboratories. We have a alternative, and we must send a message in a large scale exodus. If we don't support Listing Labs like MET, they loose their incentive to stick around and be the competition.

In closing...

These were my observations, conversations, and thoughts while strolling around at the show with Kgirl. When most saw the Expo for what they think it was about, LED Boards and Flat Panel Printers, going to Disney World and Universal Studios. I saw something else. That's why it's important that you show up, and talk to people, work can hold for a few days, you just tell them you have an important convention to go to that will assure that you can continue to build them the product they like, and at a decent price.

Lastly...

For anyone in the Associations who know me or don't, either in the core employed, or the volunteer base that have integrity, are principled, selfless, believe in preserving/protecting/bringing back traditions of this industry. THIS site is here to help and serve, to be your tool in anyway it can to assure you can get the job done. I DON'T believe you need to bridge a gap between you and the "Fallen" and compromise your values, the values of this industry. The hell with them, it's time to step on the accelerator and pin the pedal to the floor. You do know what they say what you should do if you're about to hit a deer? Well, that's what I'm going to do.

Hate to sound vague in some parts, or even sound like I'm speaking in code, but I am.


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Hate to sound vague in some parts, or even sound like I’m speaking in code, but I am.

Erik;

Feel free to speak clear, concise or vague if you choose to, because by reading your many illustrious diatribes over the past year, I know you are a passionate person. Passionate about your trade, your family and your country. Unfortunately, many are not and are driven by the dollar sign derived by short term principles and subsequently the gain. I get that you are keen on the role of large government and its role on business. However, I am here to tell you that they are synonymous. They are one and the same. The large corporations buy and sell the politicians like baseball trading cards to achieve whatever end they want. Republicans and Democrats are equally complicit in the house of prostitution. So are many of the associations you have listed. No entity wants equality or competition, rather it wants advantage. Low and behold, they find it or purchase it. Whatever is most expedient.

My advice to you and anyone else who would care to listen would be as follows. Always, always see things for what they are. Never see them through the prism of what you would like them to be.Strive to change those things you don't like but don't confuse the two.

To paraphrase a brilliant human being who came before all of us on this board, I give you the following.

Know not yourself nor your enemy and you will loose all the battles.

Know yourself but not your enemy and you will win some of the battles.

Know your enemy but not yourself and you will win some of the battles.

But......... know yourself and your enemy and you will win all the battles.

Keep battling, Erik my friend, with an unjaded eye..........

Dominic


"Don't be afraid to see what you see" - President Ronald Reagan

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Keep it up Eric !! What is the "&amp" that pops up quite often ?

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I would never join a club that would have me as a member..Groucho Marx

I had an interesting conversation with our main supplier yesterday. The local top brass stopped by to say "Hi and Thanks". Of course we discussed the trade show, and the new products.. We got on the subject of the sign associations. Believe it or not, they feel pretty much the same, as the small sign shops like me do. Even at the State level, the politics/policies are set to cater to the large shops. This will never change. I personally don't care, they don't get my money. I will continue to plug along in my ignorant bliss.

However, if it wasn't for the associations. We would not have great sign shows to attend.

They say, "You can't fight city hall". But you can sure give them hell.

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Cheers to the Syndicate!!!! Exposing dirty little secrets, challenging twisted facts, and refusing to blindly follow the "politically correct" movements just to fit in.

Could we all be the bastard children of the associations?


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

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Keep it up Eric !! What is the "&amp" that pops up quite often ?

That's what happens when you copy and paste from word

I would never join a club that would have me as a member..Groucho Marx

I had an interesting conversation with our main supplier yesterday. The local top brass stopped by to say "Hi and Thanks". Of course we discussed the trade show, and the new products.. We got on the subject of the sign associations. Believe it or not, they feel pretty much the same, as the small sign shops like me do. Even at the State level, the politics/policies are set to cater to the large shops. This will never change. I personally don't care, they don't get my money. I will continue to plug along in my ignorant bliss.

However, if it wasn't for the associations. We would not have great sign shows to attend.

They say, "You can't fight city hall". But you can sure give them hell.

I shake my head when it comes to supplier and distributors because their so vocal about associations if you have a private conversation, so my questions is, do they raise these concerns or not? They don't even like the Distributor / National Sign gathering wither that comes up in the summer, but yet they show and complain, "why do I want to be in a room with my competition or with people who owe me money".

Not completely true about no assoc. no show. NBM puts on a show in multiple cities, but of course it's not as good, it's mostly for the print and t-shirt crowd, but that's their own fault and another story in itself. I'd really like to tray and get out to Atlantic City next year, we'll see. Hope you don't think I'm saying do away with associations, they just need to restructure and do away with the "Markety People" that just like to see themselves in the limelight only.

It was good to run into you and your wife at the show and see you at our meet!


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Got a few emails today regarding this topic that I posted. I can't discuss those emails except one when I asked if I could post the contents because I thought it was so good. The others I have to leave up to them.

On a similar topic when it comes to trade magazines, and I guess you have to have to NO shame and no problem holding your hand out if you run one. But I've never had a problem with a MFG logging on the the site here and posting a thread like "what's going on with them", or posting a PR news bleep about a non vendor of this site from time to time if it's informative. I've even discussed what products I use pretty openly, and encourage the use of those products openly, those MFG's aren't Board Vendors here, and I know full well they won't ever be. I do it because I like to relay information. Maybe that's a fault of my own, I have shame of sticking my hand out to people who want to tell a story, or relay a story that might have some insight to their products, though the thought of me sticking my hand out never comes to to me.

Don't get me wrong I'm not going to post a catalog or pamphlet for someone that's just nothing but a outright marketing brochure, but where's the character for anything but? Maybe that's why I don't make as much from this site as I probably should, should be another individual like the people from the trade magazines would turn this site full circle into a profit farm HAHAHAHAHA

Here is that email I received:

Hi Erik,

I enjoyed much of your ISA report and overview especially because I was unable to attend the show. I echo many of your thoughts, ideas and expressions but I don’t agree entirely with everything you conveyed.

You remind me of myself in your tenacity and willingness to challenge folks/ideals—and to even get your nose bloodied!

Hey — look, I am only a 3rd generation sign industry professional! Many know I am mainly from the supply side (component manufacturing) for local, regional and national sign companies.

We worked through the “traditional,” old-model, national sign supply distributor network. This channel is hanging on today but nowhere near as powerful.

The first NESA show (pre ISA-days) I attended was in Philadelphia, circa 1963 (right, I was only a small child!). This was a tiny show (a few hundred people) held at a local hotel.

The NESA folks handed out beautiful, collectible drinking glasses etched with the city and year… that’s a very cool touch. Anyone remember these (share your pix). The good ‘ol days, for sure!

Now, the entire industry business model, sales channel, personal relationship characteristics, and the respect aspect—coupled with ALL of the technological advancements and changes—we have certainly come “light-years” from the days described above. The honor you refer to is almost gone, I agree. In the short 40 or so years that I have been around this business (having been raised in my family’s manufacturing facility, working summers and holidays in the plant with the crew since I was ten years old!) much indeed has changed.

My story was the beautiful “family” one you described. The company was Standard Neo-Lite Co., Inc. & Standard Plasto-Lite Co., Inc. and also Charic Industries, Inc. These were industry GIANTS for years, established in the 1930s. I have documentation going back to 1933-34 for the corporate formation of The Standard Electric Company Inc. I still might be in possession of the original corporate rubber seal hand press that was very popular in those days for authenticating contracts/documents!

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I formed Advanced Neon Systems (the first US Jellybean transformer manufacturer),

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which later became Westrim Products, Inc.

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in the mid-1980s, followed by Capital Electric Wire & Cable Sign Products Division, followed by Way-Light USA… Nothing is quite the same anymore. You nailed it! Keep up the good work and remember “Without adversity NOBODY grows!!”

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That is my quote! Feel free to post this if so moved.

Attached is nostalgia pic from a 1970s trade show booth display (Standard Neo-Lite Co., Inc.) from back in my family’s heyday! We were the kings of trim cap, glass housings, GTO, ballast wire and many others products for years!!

Every one of our beautiful white corrugated (more expensive) printed with green text boxes read: “Standard Means Quality”

I have also attached a few photos of the different companies and products I was affiliated with over the years! I hope your viewing audience enjoys my story!

Keep on the path brudda – call me when you get some time! Glad you had a good & informative trip! Can be eye-opening huh!

Best,

Sandy H. Miller

shm1@mindspring.com


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Well stated and yes>>>>do keep it up. Hadn't thought about "Tradition" and where it's gone>>>thanks for making me think on that one

Edited by TecnoluxMan

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      So, one day I got a call from the President of USSC, he wanted to advertise on the SS and wanted to know how.  Later on in that phone conversation he asked me if I would be interested in joining the board, and take on a new "experience" .  I told him I would have to get back to him.  I wasn't sure about the time involved as I already run basically 2 business's and the SS is my first love.  I talked it over with Kgirl, asked what she thought.  She was more concerned with more of my time being pulled away from family life.  I get that, the SS already pulls me away.
      There were some key points that stuck in my head from my conversation as well as the word "experience".  I like to have new experiences.
      The USSC is also the last man standing in any form of an independent sign association.  ISA wanted to gobble them up too along with all the others but they declined the offer.  Which is key to me.
      My big concern has always been one thing when it comes to this trade, and that is the integrity of the electric sign industry.  It's completely ignored, forgotten, but most of all it's dangerously mis-characterized.
       
      So, I found it wasn't that much time intrusive, I'm not day to day operations as what concerned me the most, I just don't have that much time to do all three.  Most of the time when someone asks me for help, I generally will. So, what the hell, I'll give it a shot.  My purpose for joining is to bring the needs of the electric sign industry into the light and into focus, I'm only doing this for the industry, and for a short time, the someone else can have a go
       
      The makeup of USSC is mainly small sign shop business owners and employees, nothing large and intrusive, and I knew that coming in. Which to me is inviting.   I wouldn't say it's focus is the electric sign trade but their are plenty of members that are, not so much on the makeup of the board.
      It's obvious my reputation precedes me a little with the makeup of the board, and be that as it may, you're not going to get one without the other when it comes to me.
      What I do like about the USSC is there are those that are open to something new, and a feeling of America first attitude, less globalism unlike ISA.
      So...I've been busy the last couple of weeks with work and this site with upgrades and haven't had too much time to spend with USSC, and this article came to my attention via the USSC
      https://sdgmag.com/features/switching-over-led
      I read it, and considering the source it's no surprise.  This is one of the brochure magazines I've been talking about here for years.....years as you all know.  Cheap brochure articles written by component manufacturers who lease the keyboard from the magazine editor, or are offered the keyboard in the form of obligation pieces for thanks in advertising money.  We all know, it's just pure garbage of a desperate magazine looking for anyone to fill it with content without ever fact checking.
      This article alone enabled me to open up and answer the reason why I'm on the USSC, one of thee only sole purposes, minus a few I'll get into at a later time.
      We're left with few choices right now, there are those who want to start a new sign association and I'm pretty sure those plans are still in place and slowly moving forward that address the electric sign industry, or put some focus on something that's already established, tweak it, put some oil here and there a few modifications and BOOM!   Right now I'm putting my efforts towards the USSC because I see potential and I see a little bit of fire in their belly, but it needs some more coal shoved in to get some heat going.
       
      So.....this is my purpose and what I'm pushing for at the moment.  Pushing the interests of the electric sign industry first.  What is that interest?
      Well, it's the kind of points YOU and I have always been discussing for years.  Preserving this trade, protecting our heritage and traditions and putting out the real facts and figures about light sources and educating the industry, architects, designers, and most importantly the consumers.
      It's the content you've only been able to find on here The Sign Syndicate.
      Developing content that dispels the myths and mis-characterizations of this industry's light sources, LED's, Fluorescent and Neon Lamps.  The strengths & weakness, the pro's and con's, and how they are affected by the environment, installation and application factors.  Educating the user and consumer that all light sources have their place and cutting through the outsiders & manufacturer marketing claims and statements that have been damaging to one of this industry's longest traditions, Neon.  Whether you use Neon or not, it is apart of this industry's heritage and it's been under assault for years with no sign association to EVER step in.  Some basic physical models/tests need to be developed for all to evaluate, test and most importantly "measure".
      I'm not talking about the more in depth reports we put out here on products, but a basic platform needs to be developed.  Because if it's not, then it's the same as condoning the claims that are not only damaging to our heritage but also damaging to historic sites and structures 
       
      So, it leads me to this.  those that participate here on a regular basis can help out this Association.  No, I'm not talking about writing a check and joining up, that needs to be earned.  What I am asking you to do is contact them and let them know you're concerned as well, and that you would like to see content like i just discussed put into place and acted on.  You're concerned about our historic landmark signs that are slowly disappearing because of Light Source manufacturers that are going to the cities and giving them a misleading power point presentation to replace a light source with one (Theirs) that will never last as long, nor look the same and you want someone there to represent this industry to counter back with facts & figures, not interfere but be able to present the true facts and figures based on what this industry can truly do and can't do, and leave it up to local communities and municipals, BUT they have to have someoene that will be able to provide those tools backed up with resources and studies. 
      After all, who should decision makers, consumer, architects and designers believe?  Manufacturers who have a sale to be made who present them with this industries god awful trade rag articles written by vendors but are asked to believe them because after all, if it's in print it must be true.  Or believe a electric sign association data and studies/models, who's make up is that of individuals and companies that build the actual products made up of all light sources, and the backing of lighting and electrical engineers?
       
      Well, here's your chance.  I'd like you to take some time out for YOUR industry and call the USSC and express your concerns at 215.785.1922 or email them at ussc@ussc.org
       
       
       
    • By Erik Sine
      ECO TYRANNY

      I don't usually bring politics here on the SS unless it's for a very good reason.
      But since a lot of what we do here in our own industry and how it affects how we make a living I'm going to share a particular youtube video of Senator Ted Cruz asking the president of Sierra Club some very, very simple questions that he's (Sierra Club) not up for discussing or debating. In fact the head of Sierra club is taking a political position instead of acting objectively.
      The environmental (product safety) movement is or "green" as most know it, has killed our industry like many others, especially when it comes to the electric sign trade, lighting components and certain sectors of our trade, in particular Neon & Fluorescent lighting. Even to force manufacturers to spend more money on products they sell i.e. ballasts and transformers just to save energy somewhere under a false notion of "Green", or saving the planet. A lot of times these new imposed regulation prices out consumers, and makes products less reliable in place for other products which are pushed by lobbyists who represent a product that under normal circumstances can't stand on their own merit, and instead need to be handicapped, and even so far as to be funded in subsidies by tax payers (you and I) because normal economics of a free market or supply and demand don't apply. Government gets to pick the winner, not the consumer.
      This Environmental movement has been backed and glorified by our own sign industry establishment base, or as we all know them...Sign Associations who have repeatedly ignored fact just like what we see in the video that has enabled outsiders to mis-characterizes and mis-lead members and help sway public opinion into the "Green" movement which is nothing more than executing statements but never fully explaining.


      There is probably no bigger fish and obstacle for the free market that road blocks everyones right to prosper than the Sierra Club who has the ability to file lawsuit after lawsuit and has the protection of our own government to fire back.
      So here they are, unable to answer a simple question much like our own establishment base because it's in THEIR best interest to not answer.
      Our good tax dollars at work against us, and keeping us from prosperity.
    • By Erik Sine
      "NLRB Ruling Threatens Sign Industry Contractor-Subcontractor Arrangements" - Article
      http://txsigns.associationbuyersguide.org/item/47-nlrb-ruling-threatens-sign-industry-contractor-subcontractor-arrangements
      http://www.isa.myindustrytracker.com/en/article/63958
      So I got this today and maybe I'm misinterpreting this but...
      It looks like ISA wants to come to the aid of the wrong side, AGAIN.
      First...as in most states, especially here on the west coast you can only legally subcontract when you yourself are a contractor, or licensed contractor. So when it comes to the rule of law, this is nothing new and nothing that needs to be altered. Contractors licensing laws protect the employee, employer, primary contractor, subcontractor and consumer.
      I see "Franchise" included in the article so it makes me think that ISA is trying to get some of their large base or members (FastSigns) to bypass the contractors licensing law as we've discussed here
      http://www.thesignsyndicate.com/forums/index.php?/topic/6169-controversy-over-electric-signs-splits-industry-a-no-brainer/
      As a primary contractor you are solely responsible, I see what looks like word play as well, as if to cause panic or emotion. Maybe I'm getting this wrong, maybe not.
      As I've said before nothing will kill an industry faster then when you can have anyone, and that would include a Home Depot clerk to have the ability to sell, execute and subcontract a home/commercial improvement contract whether it's repair of modification and be protected from laws that a normal contractor are held under. The chain of accountability, responsibility is broken when you have a third party that is not held to the same respects as a contractor, that how most laws are written. If I'm reading this article right, ISA is trying to come to the aid of those who lack the knowledge or know how of this industry that obviously cannot get their own contractors license.
    • By Erik Sine
      Bringing America Back Home

      First I want to say that I fear for the future of the American Electric Sign Industry, this is why I say the things I do when it comes to this trade, and of course our leadership and the role their supposed to fill. I've never been accused of of holding back my feelings, so let's not give that a second thought.
      This topic has been in the making since our Vegas ISA Trip. I've been meaning to post for some time, I've written some, saved it, written some more, deleted some content and saved it all while working on sign projects and life events....and it's grown since since I've had some conversations that brought up this very same material that I've had in the back of my head. All very similar mindset so I know I'm not the only one thinking that a new movement IS needed, and very badly.
      I thought I would start this in a new forum away from the ISA Trip thread which is where at first it was going to go as a reply to a already existing topic. While being at this years show and reading a few accounts of other peoples experiences of the show that they had on site, it made me think.......because that's what I do.
      I think we can get very different opinions about what everyone sees when they go to a large sign show these days. I think if you're a sign association employee you look at the show and said..."Good turn out, how can we expand even more...". If you're a newby or someone from say the print or vehicle wrap world you said "Wow, cool LEDs and message boards!". If you're a seasoned electric sign tradesman or women you most likely said...."eh.....at least I got to see my supplier and product manufacturers in person....". Not just by what you say walking through browsing, but based on the "education" seminar line up too. I would even go so far as to say the general feelings on what's being done for the electric sign industry might be the same. Again, based on the fact if you're a seasoned, well versed individual in our unique trade.
      I think we need to draw a line that shows contrast, and show what the differences are between what the current associations are doing for the electric sign trade, and what the electric sign trade is, and what it's interests are.
      I look at ISA now and when I see the makeup it's frankly gotten too big, it's too broad and most of those that run it aren't from our trade, their from others and they cycle from one trade, to ours, and then they cycle right into another somewhere else.....and frankly their heart is NOT in the same place as ours is when it comes to OUR trade.....the electric sign trade, or...the American Electric Sign trade.
      I think it's become forgotten because there is just a lot of money in a lot of other areas when your association model becomes or is turned into a business model rather than taking a stand for the industry. The International Sign Association is acquiring and buddying up too fast to other areas that are and not related to the immediate needs of the most important aspect of the sign trade, the "Electric Sign Trade" The needs of the American Sign Companies to the needs of the American Sign Manufacturing Companies.
      Most of those seasoned people I refer too above who said the show was "...eh.." say they wish the show was separated so they wouldn't have to walk too far to see what they ONLY came to see, or to see the booths that relate to just them. That would be nice but, the show wants you to see the whole floor so they can collect that traffic and they need, that traffic to show all the exhibitors those numbers completely, even though those numbers don't really reflect who's there to really see what or who. The smart thing to do is scatter so one must tour ALL and give an opportunity for all to be visibly seen. That way later when they come up with attendance number is can be used to make all sectors think it applies to them, or maybe that's a stretch of a statement to make.
      I personally think a new association needs to be formed one day, and the framing from those fathers needs to begin today.
      I think some real intelligent like minded individuals that have experience in other sign associations, combined with component manufacturers and individuals from sign companies need to come together and meet the needs of the American Electric Sign Trade, an interest that puts American capitalism back in the forefront, and not the Asian or European model of our current. At the same time promotes our trade to the public and educates the public about what it is we do, who unique and specialized it is and what we can build. Our trade does NOT have that right now, we only have brochure mis-information that the public get blanketed with.
      I think that's what I see missing, and what I see as a big void that needs to be filled because we have a black hole forming.
      We need to show contrast and it's this.
      For the electric sign companies the trade itself is in the midst of being lost. The real education that one should be obtaining that most received of yesterday is gone. We need to get back to the basics when is comes to sign fabrication, structural, planning, light & energy engineering. Get away from the new model which is turning this trade into a commodity. We need strong leadership that truly, truly...fights regulation...not agrees, rolls with it, and figures out a way to make a program out of it to pass on down and charge their members....and instead of partnering up with other aspects of the sign industry that don't apply like screen printers, apparel, and printers, we need to partner up with other groups, watch dogs, causes, or associations that have mutual interests in staying regulation free. Regulation that interrupts the American Electric Sign Industry and robs us of our right to proser and right to happiness.
      Regulation is not going away, don't get me wrong I'm not anti- regulation nor an anarchist, I do believe we need to have moderate regulation...just not license stacked on top of license and over safety where it costs us who in turn pass it along to the consumer. The environmental product and safety movement that we have in this country is a strong powerful funded movement. Our own industry right now has large sectors that aids this movement and here we are as a whole shooting our own toes off trying to prosper at the same time killing our own future.
      Right now in some states the International Sign Association is trying to find ways to make it okay for companies who posses no contractors license, lack any kind of electric sign experience to just roll up in this industry by simply purchasing a vinyl quick stop shop and execute and sub large sign programs involving electric and architectural signs. This is happening right now in Wisconsin which was aided by their own association and it was attempted in Texas. The Texas Sign Association even had a pair and said "hell no" to that idea. We already have a bad enough issues when it comes to illegal sign contracts that involve companies posing as licensed contractors who hire legal contractors as subcontractors. A big problem for the west coast states and most others who have state contractors laws.
      The very investment of the electric sign companies who posses such a right to do business because they went through all the proper channels and avenues going from a apprenticeship to journeyman is being diminished because a particular sector of an association who has more members than the electric sign sector believes that the electric sign trade is NOT a trade, but rather a commodity? A commodity where even the Home Depot clerk and decide to execute contracts and sub out his own roofing or water heater jobs as work a 3rd party?
      This is not in the interest of the American Electric Sign Industry.
      A NEW JOURNEY
      Let's imagine the build of a new association for a minute to illustrate the differences between our current, and what our own beliefs are as a true trade that recognizes & reflects those traits that humble us. "Integrity & Tradition". We need to educate the public about what the electric sign industry can do and properly perform, what light sources can and can't do.
      To become apart of this American sign & lighting (I did sneak in "Lighting" there!) association there also has to be a strict code of conduct, and the standards and bar MUST be set high.
      Everyone has to be dept free, from the leadership to the basic member and not be behind or in debt with other members. Leadership roles need to be held to limited time, the last thing an association needs is someone who is concurrently serving in 3 to 5 different associations at once. Individuals can only serve a position once, ONCE. This again is in the best interest of our industry, and to the consumer who needs to get the correct information.
      The core or the employed of this association, from the president on down NEED to have a background in the electric sign industry, that's a requirement.
      ISA has this new Elite Program for the young and moldable "executives".
      We need to get back in touch with our more seasoned veterans of this sign industry and beg for forgiveness for pushing them aside for something greener, faster and cheaper.
      Our more experienced have a bigger key to play in all this than any of us, they hold the key to what's been forgotten, and that "character", character of this industry of a long time past. This industry needs to return to what makes America exceptional, it begins with mutual vision of hard work and values, and we can learn that best by those who came and ran this industry before us. Not by the old guard who like to keep things as they once were, nor by the few who liked to be empowered by ego.
      It's just an idea, an American idea, an idea that promotes to the public that we offer a very unique form of custom electrical advertising that is a specialty.
      This industry has a long hard road ahead if we are to maintain this as a trade and not let others who are outside of our industry dictate to us and turn it into something which it is not by executing statements about our capabilities and never fully explaining, that's the mis-information!
      We have to create our own industry standards by measuring what we know and what we work with so the public (consumers), outside groups, or government won't be clouded or mislead. When this happens in only enables the environmental, product safety movement that restricts what we do. I'm talking about coming up with a measurable standard that measures light and power, after all, isn't this what we do and build?
      No current sign associations does this, you have to ask yourself why? This is one of the most important questions of our day, seriously....ask yourself. Don't you wonder???
      If they actually did dare to create such a measurable standard that interferes with their membership advertising makeup we wouldn't be in the current mess that we are in now. We wouldn't have to rely on manufacturers, or government bureaucrats who end up misleading because they have something to sell or a reason to get more power for themselves by manufactured lies.
      If someones going to come into our industry and make a claim, it needs to be measured, and verified. This is NOT being done right now. If we can do that, it will make the integrity of our industry stronger, and in turn it will make us all more valuable. Not just to ourselves but against any regulation that might be endangering the way we do business.
      It looks like all we have done as a industry is make others outside of our industry profit as we loose. It's been this way for a while because we've given up control and given them the reigns of our own industry to those who have never spent a day in a sign shop where one has to trim cap, bend & process Neon, manage projects, stress over payroll, maintain licensing
      I believe that there are others who think as I and a few others do, maybe not completely 100%, but enough to know....to look at ourselves, at where we are and know where we have been....and know we are far from where we should be, and want that back. To leave something behind where the current residents now say "run, and get out of this industry as far as you can".
      In recent days I've had a a few conversations in person and by phone about this topic unknowing to them, they hit on some key points I've sort of hit or outlined here I've let them know what I pretty much said in this topic and most of what I've said is a big mutual concern. So this is the main reason why I'm getting this out there.
      It's not my intent to shit on our existing sign associations I think most of you know I've always had a difference of opinion on them, I'm just emphasizing the contrast in who they are, what they do versus what we need for the electrical sign trade. Their hearts and interests just aren't in it nor the same as ours, with all their other off/bi-trade acquisitions, mergers and partnerships in the print industry, garment industry and other off-shoots, coupled with the politics that goes into their membership......how can they be?
      In short, we need a new American Electrical Sign & Lighting Association that forms a rock solid wall of standards by measuring the components that we use, in lighting components and otherwise. We need to use these standards and educate the public, they need to know the strengths and weakness's of lighting and how they perform to their environment and application use. We need to promote American Companies ( & Canada), find ways to incentivize entrepreneurship, innovation, and production of products back in America and to this industry. We need to educate our trade about proper fabrication and installation of all light sources for all sign and lighting applications whether it's Neon, LEDs, Fluorescent Lamps, HIDs, etc. We need to partner up with similar groups, causes, movements, watchdog groups, and associations like the IAEI (National Electrical Inspectors Association) to fight and minimize regulation, the environmental product safety movement and increasing costs because of those factors to the consumer.
      I think I've said more than a mouthful, it's been hard to find the time to squeeze this thread in with so much work I currently have going, but here it is. Wish I had more time but I shouldn't complain.
      This Industry is looking for leadership, this industry is looking for ideas on how to bring that about, I have a few, we need others, and I think it starts with like minded individuals from various enterprises, expertise that might have a similar idea that is AESLA, or American Electrical Sign & Lighting Association.
      Anyone smell that new fresh car smell? Better get a whiff.....it only comes around once.


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