By Erik Sine
I never did think I ever would .....and that is, join a sign association.
Yep, I know I told you all I have no desire and don't ever look for it in your lifetime.
Well, something changed. New comers who might not be up to speed I created a topic here "A New Sign Association" basically calling for a new sign association, one that will put more attention to OUR needs and that is the electric sign industry. As some of you have already seen, there are multiple USSC Sign Association Banners all around this site popping up as well as the weekly newsletters.
The USSC....I have to admit, prior to my joining I didn't know much about them or their history, and I'm still learning. I knew they had a show on the east coast, but to be honest I never did go even though some members here had encouraged that I should. But, because it's on the east coast and right between Thanksgiving and Christmas it made it hard. Hard because December I have my wife's birthday,as well as three of my kids AND our Anniversary all within 30 days of Christmas. Needless to say, I'm POOR come January.
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
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 email@example.com
By Erik Sine
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
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
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.
By Erik Sine
"...We're not afraid to get into the trenches when it comes to road blocks....As a matter of fact, that's how we get things done..." - Lori Anderson
"The International Sign Association (ISA) is laser-focused on what's happening this very second within the sign and visual communications industry."
"As we talk to member companies we hear two constant concerns:
(1) The challenges of finding qualified employees and.
(2) The issues of getting signs built due to regulations"
-Lori Anderson, International Sign Association
Hate to interrupt the magazine pep talk but I would think one of the biggest concerns that are on the minds of licensed sign companies which has been going on for yeeeeeeaaaars and that supersede any and all of those named above is trying to get paid and according to terms called out in a contract from some very large bad national sign companies, many of which are volunteer board/chair members of the ISA. Some have even received "industry awards" complete with a photo-op and hand shake published in similar sign magazines. In most cases not paying a subcontractor on time is illegal if not made within the 30 day time frame. Which means, volunteer board members and chairs are breaking the law, and can go to jail, pay a fine, or both!
Since when has ISA's code of conduct become that relaxed that they allow members to be apart of their association who are breaking the law...let alone hand them and award of gratitude?
Surely Lori Anderson has run into this issue/complaint time and time again? She can't possibly plea ignorance, or say she's never heard of the issue??
Curious....do any of you ever ask your local or International Sign Association membership/reps about this?
Number two can be the fact the fact that ISA has tried to diminish the reason for having or obtaining a contractors license in states like Texas and just recently in Wisconsin. What's the incentive to even go legit and abide by the state safety standards and laws,m if anyone can just go around and subcontract a job that normally requires a license? A clerk from Home Depot soon will be able to subcontract a pole sign or plumbing jobs to whoever, and however. Is there and start and end?
Just because membership monies may way more in favor of vinyl and t-shirt print shops whom just entered the industry, doesn't mean ISA should take the side to think that our "trade"...i did say "trade"... is no longer a trade and anyone with no experience should just be able to cut in line, take a short cut and decide one day, "Oh...I feel like I should start selling and installing large electric sign structures"
I thought the idea of starting or having an association for a trade was to preserve it's heritage and traditions to keep it as a trade where you earn your way in and up, not buy your way in. Educate it from time to time.
Where is the seminars in education for book balancing for payments to distributors and subcontractors? Abiding by the law? Making sure that what ever contracts your executing in states you're even licensed to do so, and abiding by those licensing laws?
I've seen a "report" unlicensed activity programs from time to time and announcements. But what about reporting National Sign, and or National Service providers whom don't even have a contractors license in that state that their providing service in and on the backs of licensed contractors in that state? Their breaking the law, and their breaking the chain of accountability when it comes to contractors license laws, where the consumer suffers. The consumer needs to be protected, and so does the subcontractor who is illegally being subcontracted out by an illegal primary contractor who doesn't even have a license in that state nor understand it's laws.
Number #2 should be Preserving our "trade" and continue to uphold that high standard that requires an individual to go through the proper channels, and NOT continuing to to bastardize it by turning it into a commodity
But hey, ISA has a golf game at their expo this year....again. Wonder if they can do a buddy team thing this year and pair up a payer, along with the payees. Some pairs would love each other depending on who, some......just might be choking the other on out on the green.
My Tuesday thoughts.
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