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UFB Fabrication

Sign of the times channel letter article.

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Just opened and skimmed the latest SOT article about channel letters. 1st off if anyone looks at the mag you can seen its loaded with channel letter bending machines ads that have really increased ad space this month. Hmmmm. Well once again the said that ground breaking technology has come to the channel letter market.  Yes it is if this article was written 15 or 20 years ago. Nothing new has been come up with for years and most anyone who makes channel letters seriously bought a bender years ago.  While automated bending is great and with a clincher or stapler is better than doing it by hand its really only 20% of building a letter.  Still have to slap some LED's in it which are of course the modern miracle of the sign world.  Add a bit of trim cap and viola you made yourself a set of letters.  Never mind the other equipment needed, permits or UL .    Its pretty plain to me that this is typical of SOT of telling a "story" that includes/benefits a advertiser, shame on them.  Looking more like fakes news

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Its another Miracle cure for the sign industry.  Buy one and you are now a full complete electrical letter manufacturer with the push of a button.

This is on page 3 of the Franchise Fantasy.  " You too can be a fully Qualified Electrical Sign Manufacturer " 

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Posted (edited)

Respectfully UFB, it appears you're not well-informed regarding the latest advancements made regarding channel letter machines.

Before assuming nothing has changed with channel letter machines give me a call to find out actually how much has changed.  

 

Our Super ChannelBender XP is much faster, more accurate, wastes much less material (only 1/4") per letter than any of our competitors, we introduced and patented a Trimless channel letter coil called LetterForm in 2016.  In fact we were presented with the ISA Innovation Award at Sign Expo 2016 for this new material. Our machine automatically punches 1/8" pilot holes for screws and rivets, our machine automatically punches 1/4" drain holes, our machine automatically removes the flange on one side of the seam overlap, our software can read the location of holes from the router dxf file used to cut the back panel of a letter and our machine will place a corresponding hole in the flange so rivets no longer require any pre-drilling and lastly our machine will punch rivet holes on both sides of the seam overlap we can bend serifs as small as 3/16" in reverse channel letters.  Are those not profound improvements to a channel letter machine?  More than 300 sign companies across the country have replaced their gold and green antique channel letter machines in the last 4 years alone.  I can't imagine they'd be doing that if we hadn't built a better mouse trap. I beg to differ with your opinion. 

Edited by ChannelBender1

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28 minutes ago, ChannelBender1 said:

Respectfully UFB, it appears you're not well-informed regarding the latest advancements made regarding channel letter machines.

Before assuming nothing has changed with channel letter machines give me a call to find out actually how much has changed.  

 

Our Super ChannelBender XP is much faster, more accurate, wastes much less material (only 1/4") per letter than any of our competitors, we introduced and patented a Trimless channel letter coil called LetterForm in 2016.  In fact we were presented with the ISA Innovation Award at Sign Expo 2016 for this new material. Our machine automatically punches 1/8" pilot holes for screws and rivets, our machine automatically punches 1/4" drain holes, our machine automatically removes the flange on one side of the seam overlap, our software can read the location of holes from the router dxf file used to cut the back panel of a letter and our machine will place a corresponding hole in the flange so rivets no longer require any pre-drilling and lastly our machine will punch rivet holes on both sides of the seam overlap we can bend serifs as small as 3/16" in reverse channel letters.  Are those not profound improvements to a channel letter machine?  More than 300 sign companies across the country have replaced their gold and green antique channel letter machines in the last 4 years alone.  I can't imagine they'd be doing that if we hadn't built a better mouse trap. I beg to differ with your opinion. 

 

 

Yes I know your machine is better and you must have forgotten our discussions but the next couple machines will likely be Red, a different color than the ones we currently have. 

You missed my point though.  Even if you machine can have us bending and attaching backs 50% better, the majority of work building letters to a completed sign is not just the metal letter.  Buying one of these machines does not automatically make a sign company a channel letter wizbang.   You will need clincher/stapler, routers, welders, paint booths along with UL or similar listing service and more.  The most difficult will be the skill, knowledge and talent.   The SOT article similar to others  they have written in the past is a bit of a puff piece showcasing bending machines (which are great inventions/machines BTW) but did not give all the info needed. It was a great way for them to get advertising revenue so I must give SOT props for that.  Not very helpful for a company looking into getting into the channel letter game.  But thats ok they will learn the hard way and end buy buying out letters from wholesalers in the end if they remain in business.

 

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I certainly won't disagree with you there. Building letters takes a whole lot more skill and talent than simply buying one, or even several machines.  For example, our closest competitor introduced that new, cheaply made  machine for about $40k. It has very limited capabilities.  Heck, it doesnt even bend .063. Equipment like that essentially targets a low budget, uneducated segment of the market. When I say uneducated I'm simply referring to a lack of fabrication knowledge and experience. That type of equipment is intended for people who really aren't sure they're committed to doing fabrication in the long term. It's for those who want to dip a toe in the water and dabble. I suspect there will be a huge secondary market for those cheap, low-end machines once the original purchasers figure out exactly how much effort and experience is required to build a QUALITY, COMPLETE channel letter sign. 

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Oh well, we're still in the 20th century here.  Amazingly, we're still able to build channel letters, without a channel machine.   Probably 50% of our channel letters are welded, and use neon for illumination.  If I was chasing business, and needed to build a low cost product.  In order to compete with with the nationals.  I suppose I'd buy one.  

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There is no justification for calling a company, or it’s owner “uneducated”.  Just because a sign company cannot afford expensive equipment for their shop does not make them any less professional or qualifies them as “uneducated”. It simply means they are waiting for the right equipment to come along that meets their business and budgetary needs.

When we pioneered/invented automated channel letter bending 20 years ago, we naturally targeted larger sign companies. Now some, who have used our machines for 20 years, are augmenting their production with specialty machines including machines built outside the of the U.S. However, in most cases, they are still running their Accu-Bend machine(s) because Accu-Bend channel letter benders are built to last.

Perhaps James at SDS should show some respect for those who don’t have the business volume yet, are just entering the channel letter business, are frustrated with the time it takes to bend letters by hand or are simply tired of the cost of wholesale channel letters.  Referring to them as “uneducated” is rude and is not a good marketing approach.

Steve, you purchased your machine before we offered our two latest models.  Your machine can be field upgraded for a small charge to take advantage of these new capabilities. The small arm option allows you to make tighter bends and, instead of swapping out hardware on the Red machine, you can change the flange width between a ½” to ¼” with a simple click of a mouse.  The scriber option cuts a slight groove in the coil to make sharper angles. You can drill a lot of weep holes with the $30,000 you’ll save by upgrading your current machine and buying a new green machine versus buying ONE of the foreign-made machines.

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Thanks for the feedback Don. Employee of Computerized Cutters who just registered and posted at the insistance of Carl Ondrececk who sent me repeated harrassing emails 2 days ago because of my post here calling me an "asshole" Etc. Etc. Etc.  In response to which I had to notify our law firm and send Carl a cease and desist otherwise I'd have  Carl charged with cyberstalking which by the way is a Federal crime. 

 

Just to clarify my use of uneducated I provided a specific context by saying "When I say uneducated I'm simply referring to a lack of fabrication knowledge and experience" Therefore I wasnt calling them stupid as you so implied Don

Edited by ChannelBender1

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My post was in direct response to your disparaging remarks against both our product and our mutual customer base. I don’t need coaxing to defend my company, my products or my customers.

While it is sometimes understandable that an irate customer would bash a vendor in a public forum – it is totally inexcusable for one vendor to bash another vendor in the same industry.  It’s even more unseemly that a vendor would denigrate their potential customer base as you clearly did.

No amount of qualification minimizes or excuses labeling your prospective customer base "uneducated”.

Public forums are meant to share experiences, educate and learn – not for bashing competitors or customers.

As far as I am concerned, this interaction is over. I will continue to defend my company, products and customers when necessary. I do not disparage your products during discussions with customers and I will never denigrate my customers.

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OKAY  Both manufacturers are making assumptions about our experience, size and sales.  James your Lack of knowledge about the experience and skill of our company  is showing your lack of experience, knowledge and understanding of the custom sign business or to use your words "uneducated''. These are machines that may be utilized in may 5% in what needed in a custom sign shop and less than 20% of a simple channel letter.  Folks like us were building letters by before either SDS or CC had a PO box working in Moms garage.  Get over yourselves.

 

It also should not make one bit of difference when responding or posting here but......frankly, simple channel letters that are spit out by the automated machines don't require much talent and the signs look like it. Its a portion of what we do and like to help our customers fill a need. 

 

But that's OK cause we do millions of dollars a year in business selling them.  We concentrate on signs that other shops are not capable of building using knock down kits and cookie cutter channel letters. We have almost 40 skilled craftsmen that build high end custom signs since 1999. We have modern state of the art equipment with over a 1/2 million in new equipment just last year.  

 

That said, here is a pic of our Accubends output for not quite a day by the way.  I have to say its held up very well as we have only had 1 in house service call in the years we have owned it. Pic 2 shows a letter that neither machine can bend and more inline with what we do.   

20180711_101210.thumb.jpg.07bd2f92985d55174d324b2ae25b5fd9.jpg

20180716_072147.jpg

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Hello Steve,

 

There has been a serious miscommunication here.  I made no comments that were directed toward you, UFB Fab, its size or skill and I apologize if you got that impression.  I'm unclear how you made that assumption based on my comment.  

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On 6/29/2018 at 11:04 AM, paul321 said:

Its another Miracle cure for the sign industry.  Buy one and you are now a full complete electrical letter manufacturer with the push of a button.

This is on page 3 of the Franchise Fantasy.  " You too can be a fully Qualified Electrical Sign Manufacturer " 

 

I'm going to avoid the comments above but throw in my two cents (which may be all my post is worth but..).   

 

Way back in the dark ages when signs were still hand painted, a company called Gerber Scientific came out with the first good vinyl plotter.   And yes, there may have been others, but this was the first one that (at least in my area) saw large sales.   The local sign writers bemoaned the fact that now any "monkey with two fingers" (a phrase I heard more than once) could now lay out and make signs.   Other phrases like "its ruining the industry", "taking away jobs", etc. flew about.   I wonder if the first mass produced brushes got the same kind of comments?

 

We used to make wholesale channel letters (all by hand) and after I saw the Gerber 4-B at other shops,  I tricked (long story) my father into buying one.    it cost $10K (in 1982 dollars) when that was a tidy sum.   it came with a whopping seven fonts.   It saved us a lot of time, allowed us to stop hand cutting/reverse spraying faces, making letter patterns, etc.   I was just learning to hand letter at the time, but that was left on the wayside.  I still wish I had fully learned to hand letter but i digress.

 

Anyway, channel letter benders are just another tool.   In the hands of an experienced shop they can really be a money maker.  Digital printers are another similar item.  If you know how to use them (and market that service) you can make a lot of dough.  In the 21st century channel letters, digital prints, aluminum extrusions, etc. are all commodities.  You can buy an assemble-it / install-it yourself set of channel letters on-line from at least one source.  I wonder when Amazon or Walmart will start carrying channel letters, cabinet signs, etc.

 

Now, anyone with deep enough pockets can gain entry to the sign business, be it with electric signs, vinyl graphics, 3d carved signs, etc. by buying the right equipment AND hiring the right people.   TBH, isn't that the new business model in these times.   If you have enough $, you can get into most any business.   Put together a business plan, get a loan, assemble a team, rent appropriate space, buy "stuff" and run with it.  It will never be as easy as the franchise salespeople would make you believe, but people will try and some will succeed.  

 

Now I'm putting on my helmet, body armor and hunkering down in my foxhole and try to avoid the shrapnel.

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I remember a couple sign shops in town would loan/trade each other the font cards for the Gerber 4b.  I still say all the time that you can tell a graphic artist that drew or painted signs vs one that had only done stuff on the computer.  

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      Most sign shops these days don't want to put in the time, to learn to continue to build/design signs the way they should or to last. The LED market is a race to the bottom and LED mfg's like GE have pretty much gotten out because most are looking for 25¢ modules and not giving a shit about how long they last. Sell a project, collect the check and walk away.
      Wholesale shops themselves find it cheaper to simply peel, stick and ship, also not caring about results or appearance. IN fact, many stock only white LEDs and use that for all phases and colors of signs no matter what the face, whereas a smart shop puts the correct color behind the face, i.e. red behind red, blue behind blue.
      Currently when the customer, who actually wants and misses Neon, asks a shop for Neon, the uneducated, unknowledgeable shop who is lazy, tells the client that Neon is dangerous as a product or to the environment, it's dead, not as bright as LEDs is NOT as efficient and tries to sell them what the customer does not want, skips over demand BECAUSE that shop has NO "know how" and wants to just simply sell them something. Sign shops don't want to deal with Neon these days because they don't have the know how, are too lazy, enjoy cheap labor, only offer limited options to consumers, and want to make better money quicker faster with just peel and stick.....their answer to EVERYTHING.
      At the same time when it comes to sign suppliers, they also helped kill the Neon industry in a few ways, one... they stopped stocking products. Two, they were quick to relay false / mis-leading information to customers who wanted neon or fluorescent components. Claims that they were fresh out, the component mfg's were out of business, the demanded product is having UL issues BUT...Here's a kick ass LED alternative!!!!! Most Sign Suppliers have entered into he market with their own cheap chinese LED import and cut relations with GE, Sloan, US LED and others as we;ve all seen play musical chairs with sign suppliers, it's a cut throat market even for them. Let's look at all the burned bridges with those dist/mfgs. In fact, most supplier reps don't even know what "GTO" is, or a "200 housing", don't believe me? Call one, you'll get that short pause followed by "what's that?...."
      The Neon component mfg's were no longer getting calls about the actual demand that was genuinely out there because the suppliers were able/wanted to make a better margin on another product. So they the component mfg fed false "no demand" in turn stopped producing. Component mfg's only got drop shipped orders from suppliers.
      Here's the bigger kicker.
      I've always wanted to supply Neon component here on the SS because I genuinely wanted to help this sector of our trade out because I've personally witnessed for myself the injustice of it all, and I love this industries greatest tradition of a hand crafted light source.
      THIS is where i chuckle and can't feel sorry for them in the least.....only the for small Neon Bender who loves his trade.
      The Neon component mfg's have had these relationships for years with suppliers and depended on all the large sign distributors financially, who were basically trusting the mafia. These component mfgs were told NOT to let small niche markets such as us stock their product, the mafia in action. These large Sign Suppliers think of who they are by name, they operate like a Cartel/Mafia, call up and threaten NOT to let others stock and distribute or they will no longer continue in their relationship. Well...GOOD, they shouldn't because when was the last time ANYONE of us has ever seen a N.Glantz, Montroy, Interstate Electric, or other ever promote Neon products in a the form of a newsletter or flyer???
      The Cartel who only selects a few products in great number say 5% of a product line, but omits the 95% tells them they will no longer buy, and twists their arm. I've offered to stock that other 95% BUT, the Neon component mfg folds to the will of the strong arm Cartel Mafia. Not my problem, not my money, NOT my investment to loose. I just want to see a hand crafted art last and continue.
      Neon Component MFG's have a lot of fault too, don't feel sorry for them in the least. They choose to continue their relationships with those who don't even really support them or promote them. Karma's a bitch isn't it?? Put all your eggs in one basket and wham...
      Let me share a few recent prior posts with you. Anyone who knows this site knows I've bashed the trade magazine Signs Of The Times relentlessly and unmercifully for years. In the last few years SOT is the ONLY magazine that has done a 180˙ and they've began digging deeper. Below is an article part of that. Now I hear Wade is no longer the editor, I only hope the new editor continues where he left off.
      SOT aggressive article about Neon Components
      http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/STMG/sott_201411/#/36
      SS Discussion
      http://www.thesignsyndicate.com/forums/index.php?/topic/6952-signs-of-the-times-november-2014-issue/
      Pist off Neon Mfg suffering from their own doing based on that article:
      http://www.thesignsyndicate.com/forums/index.php?/topic/7118-signs-of-the-times-march-15-issue-letter-to-the-editor/
      I have to tell you, it's been an amazing ride running the SS, running light source tests and observing the results of light and energy, dabbing into the sign supplier market and personally witnessing first hand how the sign supplier cartel / mafia works, how our Sign Associations & trade magazines have massively failed our industry. To most in this industry, they go to a convention floor, pick up a magazine are are "WOWED". Fortunately, for you, you don't have my or a few others on this board eyes to look through. That magic I once saw when i first started was dispelled, handshakes with smiles all seen for what they really are. A few of us know there is no wizard only a man working behind the curtain and the background is nothing more than a thin cardboard prop. Not to sound grim, or negative, but news is news, and the truth is a stubborn thing. This site has helped greatly in creating a awareness in this industry that has never seen or had before. Something that cannot be learned from a sign association or trade magazine, or even from a close friend, this has been accomplished by it's membership who I see as pushing one another to do better. I'm proud of that and to those.

      This very site has brought optimism for me. Optimism & confidence in the Neon market is slowly coming back because OUR customers demand it, that void is getting bigger and it needs to be filled. The only remaining question is, will their be a Neon component mfg around to continue to make products for that demand?
      So for this reason Neon is a VERY profitable market to/for those who still know how to produce and install...properly. I and a few others thank those uneducated, unknowing, lazy shops who prefer one light source in my local market, because lean times are my way with NO competition, and it is the same for others. This is not to say LEDs are crap or have no place, we sell and awesome LED line that is unparalleled that has so many good uses BUT, I'm here to tell it CANNOT replace Neon, how many suppliers would tell you that???
      All light sources have their place based on environment and application, NEITHER Neon, Fluorescent, or LEDs should be used in all phases. They ALL have their strengths and weaknesses, and everyone needs to know what those are and use them as best they can because the client believe YOU are the expert and YOU will make/select the best choice and NOT limit your customers options based on YOUR capacity.
      I say the things I say, do the things I do. Most importantly I want members here to succeed, be better, build better longer lasting signs, and that's why one of the small avenues I've involved myself with being a small niche market in supply sales, and why I've carefully picked the things that I sell, it's because I use them and I trust them and as a business owner I know how important it is to build really great kick ass "unique" products such as Neon that impress customers and keep them buying back.
    • By Erik Sine
      IN THE BEGINNING:
      Back when I first entered the electric sign industry in 92', I entered it with a thirst to learn more, and I had come in an age before the internet. My employer knew I had such a big thirst he had offered me his collection of Sign Builder Illustrator magazines for me to thumb through and read about all the new trends, the "How To's", I read them from cover to cover and even the adverting ads were inspiring to me. I always had so many questions for him daily because "I wanted to know"
      I could never learn enough, fast enough, and most of the time the others I worked alongside with didn't care. To them, this was just a daily job they clocked in and out of, and by days end they left work behind them without further thought. To me, my goal was to open my own sign business and this was a means to it, s stepping stone. So at about 94' I broke loose on my own and surrounded myself with any as many knowledgeable individuals who were masters of this trade as I could. I had a thirst that I could not fill working for someone else.
      94' was probably about the same time I also went to my first Sign Show (NESA), somewhere up in the Anaheim, California which was about an hour and a half or so away from me. I brought my friend who was working for me at the time, who was actually my first salesman. I was probably about 20 years old or so. The show was medium sizes, not too small but not as large as a ISA show. Being I was limited and exposed to a local side of my trade (San Diego) and only able to read about what was outside from magazines, seeing the brand new sign cranes, vinyl plotters and other heavy machinery blew my mind away. To me, it was probably like being in Disneyland with so much to see.
      I was picking up brochures from just about every booth I went too, and attended as many seminars as I could. I listened to as many people as I could to get an understanding about what was going on outside of my local. I was a sponge for years to come.
      Fast forward a couple of years I started to notice that what I was being told, either from a supplier, magazine,or manufacturer did not equal out too what WAS. This progressed for a couple of years. It was almost like their was a divide between the individuals that I surrounded myself with who were true masters of our trade separated from the Suppliers, Media (Magazines) and Manufacturer reps (Outsiders).
      Maybe it was my thirst for knowledge that made me see another side of this trade that others did not. Maybe they did but didn't care, maybe they were just going to roll with whoever shaped their road, maybe they never though to question anything at all.
      Fast forward again to 2005 when I started The Sign Syndicate and here was the internet. It was already here years before the SS but I sure did see a rapid growth and number of people I could communicate with waaaay beyond my local.
      In some ways this site was a blessing for me, as it continued to fill my thirst but it also sort of killed that "magic" that I had with opening up our trade magazines and that feeling of excitement that I had walking into a sign show.
      I was finally able to identify the sales pitch that was being thrown at me all these years. Not to say it was all bad, but what I read, and was told, again very different than what "is". This is when the world and trade that I was in, just didn't add up anymore. I became more cynical and always questioned everything I was been told and read. This was about the time where LEDs were being pitched as the new up and coming trend. I had been used to Neon for so long I was interested to see and learn what the new fuss was about. My impression was a little tainted at first I have to admit because a lot of the claims again....didn't add up. I never had failures with Neon, I also didn't ever have to worry about starting a fire, but the marketing points that rolled down almost made me hate the product because of the way it was being packaged, marketed, & sold. It wasn't until I started to learn more about LEDs away from the hype from a few manufacturers and also the start of our own tests here on the SS that I found respect for it and developed the like for them. But the way the product was being pitched, conditioned, and sold created a whole dislike for our industry's trade magazines which became a vehicles. I hated the mis-information and mis-characterization that came from our media and I observed the stand by and "do nothing" mode/stance from our leadership (International Sign Association) for years to come. Not a peep, did I ever hear a "second" side to the portrayal, nor a movement to rebutt the accusations/attacks on our industries grand heritage and tradition that is Neon. The manipulated projected view thrown out there for public opinion was almost sinister, and Neon & Fluorescent became a "dirty" word almost overnight. Government R&D money was rapidly distributed to a few LED manufacturers which transmuted to big advertising money was thrown at our trade magazines and soon the large 1 and 2 page ads came. New memberships were also quickly added into out Sign Trade Associations and new relationships rose. There was a sudden boost of "new" money and there was no coverage of Neon any longer, and it soon spread to Fluorescent lighting as well when it came to our media. The only words we heard associated to Neon were words like "Inefficient....Hazardous.....Dangerous.....Safety Concern....Fire.....Global Warming.....Contains Mercury......Light Pollution....Old" that wrongly mis-characterized our conventional light sources. The LED industry took a few major hits with large sign program failures but we never read about those or heard about it from our leadership and the beat just kept on.
      Just like that a veil fell over the eyes of this trade and if you didn't know any better, never questioned what you read or were being told, or if you came into this trade to work for a sign association or trade magazine and never worked with light sources in your life, you suddenly got manipulated and trained to a new manufactured "norm" .

      Never did it ever get discussed that possibly, maybe....all light sources have their own unique ability and have their own strengthens and weaknesses and that all these light sources have an application in everything we build. All this industry was retaught to think was.....Neon bad.....LED good. After all, if we didn't observe our leadership to discuss the realities of light sources by measuring them and if all we read was one side stories in our trade magazines well then.....if it's in print then it must be TRUE
      That was the belief especially for the newcomers of this trade. The only ones who knew the real truth was the older generation, the more experienced fabricators and installers who were "hands on".
      That was the Sign World of 2005 to 2010
      BACK THEN:
      So.....to our poll. It's been a little over 4 years since we started the first poll
      http://www.thesignsyndicate.com/forums/index.php?/forum/158-trade-magazines/
      I asked the question to our Electric Sign Industry on the subject of Trade Magazines, which at the time you could not call them that respectively because they were nothing more, and no better than something in print fresh off your local Sign Supplier Brochure rack. They were only useful to advertisers who advertised in them, and those advertisers who were component/light source manufacturers were given free reign to have printed whatever they wanted. We were not reading true journalism, we were only been spoon fed an infomercial.

      Trade magazines were also part of the three headed monster (maybe safe to say 4 Headed but that's a different topic) that helped kill the Neon Industry with aiding these component & light source manufacturers with spreading mis-informattion, mis-characterization & propaganda about the use & usefulness of Neon which was it's "dangerous, inefficient and bad for the environment".
      Neon is a HUGE part of this industries heritage & tradition if not the most recognizable characteristic to those outside this trade. Neon is this industries fingerprint. You don't have to produce, install, or even sell Neon, but you have to help protect our heritage & traditions if you want to preserve our trade. As part of the Three (Four) headed monster they have done nothing to help preserve what made this industry popular and iconic, in fact they turned their backs on it for something deemed "popular" and new.
      As many of you know this site for years has been the only real source that has been able to put both Neon & LEDs in the proper perspective, listing the strengths & weakness's in a fair comparison with the use of our multiple undisputed industry first Light Testing Projects starting with The Great White Hope in 2008, along with many members who serve this industry as Electrical Engineers for Light Source Manufacturers for Neon & LEDs. We have always been fair and unbiased in never picking one light source be it Neon, LED, or Fluorescent as a better light source over others and out testing has helped display that. The Sign Syndicate has helped restore that balance to this industry where our leadership (International Sign Association), our trade magazines has not. The Sign Syndicate has been that thorn in the side for those who don't want to serve this industry but to just use as a selling ground and so profit farm from. A lot of this is has to do with being afraid to loose relationships, advertising, and membership money doing what comes easy rather than doing what is right.
      I myself have made it a mission on behalf of this sign industry, and for the love of this industry that I love to be in, to target, and point out the Sign Associations by member or chairman, the trade magazines by columnist or editor in the articles they write along with the sign companies who they quoted at every turn when they were either enabling false marketing tactics or by means of omission do to what's right. I even made it a point to stay myself away from ever building a relationship with our leadership, with individuals who work for manufacturers for this exclusive purpose for ever building into "favoritism" it's even fair to say, I've lost relationships and friendships and even advertising here on the Sign Syndicate because of that stance and because it's more important to me to discuss those topics you won't ever read about anywhere else. I've chosen principle first, and industry first before myself, and I will never look back on regret in what it cost me.
      What we did here on The Sign Syndicate along with many well known industry electrical engineers as stated above in both fields was bring to the forefront the real numbers of Light Output, Light Degradation (Lumen Maintenance), and costs of operations for those light sources. Something sadly, our leadership nor trade magazines NEVER wanted to dip into themselves. In fact all we ever heard were ridiculous short term Return on Investment figures along with saving the planet themes, marketeers conjuring new fears and nothing more. It was at this point in time where Neon was considered "Dirty".
      You have to imagine and if you give it some real hard thought......if our leadership and trade magazines were allowing/ starting a new false status-qua in the minds of our industry and in public opinion with spreading & enabling mis-characterization & mis-information about Neon, LED, & Fluorescent lighting, what else were they doing it too in our industry? After all, it's always nothing but sunshine and rainbows from them. Could this also have heavily affected the print world when it comes to solvents?
      This mis-characterization & mis-information is not just on the surface that affects sales, it went much deeper into affecting legislature where government comes in and dictates to you and I how we do business, and dictates what we can produce and what we cannot. It also aids government in having the power to pick winners, NOT the consumer. I don't even want to bring up California's Title 24 and what effects it's had on the electric sign industry and consumers, that's for another topic but this all plays into it.
      WHAT IS NOW:
      The Signs Syndicate has made a huge difference in ways I cannot go into great detail with, part of that has been done by the Light Comparison Tests that we have been conducting now since 2008 (40,000 hours of operation or 11 sign years later), 6 years ago to content on this website which has measured light sources, real recordable information that aids in standards. Something which our leadership ( International Sign Association ) STILL to this day has yet to to ever come out with a program, seminar, or even speak publicly about when it comes to putting light sources that are produced and used in their very own industry on using these light sources in the right application or discussing the strength and weakness's according to application use. In fact, they've even tried to make some things for our Neon Industry much worse when it comes to codes and standards.
      It's taken specialty groups such as The Neon Group to bring it solely upon themselves to get Neon, recognized by U.L. as a "Green" product. I'm not a "Greeny" nor support that idea of Green because I don't believe in it....BUT, they did it to help in the arena of public opinion and in PR war where it's been deemed as a "Dirty" product and light source...and they did it on their own WITHOUT the help of ISA. Neon & UL Green Leaf
      Now we have seen the slow rise in demand for Neon, in fact it's not by the sign shop wanting to get into manufacturing and installation because most are already assimilated into the LED theory where Neon is "Dirty" and inefficient and too timely. Neon is back in demand by the consumer who misses it, and can't they get it from most custom sign shops because they now lack the knowledge from their vested interest to LED only low labor employees. Which means if you're a sign shop who can still manufacture & install neon then you know have the least competition when it comes to bidding out those jobs, and their big money jobs these days. You don't have to believe me but you can now read the countless articles written by those in the mainstream press on restorations as well as having those big business's who want the look of Neon back.
      As for the trade magazines there has been a change, musical chairs for some in fact.
      One magazine that has been getting it wrong since day one still continues to get it wrong and on a monthly basis. This is probably because they are just like our inner core leadership in the Sign Associations, unlike the outer core real sign volunteer base the inner core employed base that collect a paycheck for being there...they have no real experience in this trade upon which they serve. They have never worked for a sign company, never fabricated or installed a sign. Nor have they ever worked a day in their life, or for a company who is a contractor who has an accounts payable & receivable. Most are outsiders, and they have come from another field like the plastic industry or have had no other experience other than serving industry after industry as a turnkey non-profit enterprise where the industry in which they serve is not close to heart. So how can they care as much to make this industry better before they move on and serve another industry such as the pool and spa trade, or some other?
      One magazine started to be the first to make a turn for the best for this industry but told me that fact in their face still went against the status qua, and most importantly against the "Popular thought" that makes up their technical committee. Disappointing since I came into this sign industry reading their magazine first.
      Which now leaves me to Signs of The Times.
      For many who have read my harsh/hard hitting topics & posts when it came to Trade Magazines and how they report to this industry I've never hit any other trade magazine or it's editor harder than Signs of The Times, and for years. Namely because they are the oldest magazine, and we can say they have been a apart of this industries heritage & traditions stemming from the early 1900's, AND because probably their the widest distributed magazine. We can also say that because of their longtime relationship to this trade....they have a larger part of that responsibility to "get it right" than any other. because a lot of those other trade magazines don't just vest their time in this idustry, but they serve in so many other fields and the sign industry is just one of many.
      If I die tomorrow I want everyone to know, no matter how hard I hit, it's never been personal, never in the slightest. It was always about doing what's right for this electric sign industry first, and if I had to have a little fun to raise that awareness in my critique that a LOT of truth to back it up....then so be it.
      Signs of The Times since early 2012 has made a great change and turn. Those brochure articles have disappeared, the obligation pieces aren't present either. It's more balanced for all light sources and it's better for this industry It's not perfect, it still has some areas to go into which will take courage, but at least it has "journalism", and those that run SOT genuinely, "care" . I can open that magazine up these days (I hope it won't change) and say it's pretty much the best non-biased magazine and not appear brochure like when it comes to light sources.
      The days to come for Signs of The Times if they want to take that big transition so we can call it a complete "journalistic" magazine will take courage on part of the ownership and they will need to weigh what is best for this industry outside themselves. To stay as is and possibly follow and report this industry till days end as our custom trade becomes commitized & bastardized by outsiders plummeting it to the bottom of the barrel as the direction is has been going. Or do the hard part and risk relationship/ties loss when it comes to reporting on our leadership, and I'm speaking of the sign associations. I've seen some articles juuuuust touch that surface, just nick it and pull out. But soon enough this industry will need that "champion" to take up the "Sword" & "Shield", not just the shield, but sword too and surge forward. Right now this industry of our is in "shake and bake" mode by our leadership. Because again, their not from OUR trade. Some are, but their in too small a position to make a difference.
      But for now, I'm satisfied. Many of you know I haven't even started a topic about Trade Magazine issues in some time, maybe years. The SOT has given me that peace of mind, and I haven't minded it at all, in fact I've enjoyed that time away. I can at least say this.....for now.
      So, this brings me to today. It's been since early 2010 since our last trade magazine poll by you. Maybe some of you have seen a shift, maybe not, maybe some of you don't care. But I thought a new poll was in order since change maybe on the mind of some of you who would like to change their position. Here is the restart, and I've just listed my reason for change in my opinion along with what has changed in 4 years, and what has not.
      I've just closed the January 2010 Poll because I want to lock those results for that period and begin anew.
      This round I will be asking it in a slightly different format.
      Most importantly....ENJOY! I Look forward to the results and please participate as you will make it all the more interesting.
    • By Erik Sine
      I'd like to get some opinions of the various trade magazines we have for our sign trade. I'm referring this topic to the electric sign industry of our trade.

      Are you of the opinion that they are genuinely helpful? Or are they just used to promote products of their vendors and advertisers?

      Do we really see "Honest Journalism" that performs background checks, information checks into what they write BEFORE publishing. Do they preserve our sacred trade? Or are most articles intended to propagandize and sell first, integrity second?

      Have you ever seen a "whistle blower" hard investigative type articles from any of them? Articles that deal with product quality & integrity, industry monopolies, etc?

      Why have we never seen test comparisons of light products on Neon & LED's published like The Sign Syndicate.com has done for over a year now?

      With so many article used to promote products and the "anyone can do it, & sell it" attitude aimed at amateurs, what level of danger by inexperienced individuals does this affect? What effect does it have on the qualified individuals and companies?


      I ask this mainly because of all the surveys various trade magazines have been sending me. It seems they are not asking the right questions of why I would read one over the other or none at all, but asking me who I read or follow, and how often.
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    • Hi Michelle and welcome   The reasons for investing in a pylon sign are too easy, and it's all about visibility for your tenants and investing in your tenants so their noticed.  Especially for centers that are not so easily seen from the public right of way.  That can be for a ground or pole sign.    I think a even better article that could help in educating property managers is having some knowledge in...is whether or not they should be investing and paying a large upfront cost in "retrofitting" their existing signage when marketed too by a lot of these so called "independent firms or consultants....who aren't actually interdependent at all, their actually salesmen or reps of light source manufactures.   They will walk into your office as if they are the "wizards of smart" and can come in with a impressive power point presentation.  They may even have a lot of articles from our sad trade magazines, whom aren't actually trade magazines at all, their actually just brochure magazines who are more set on selling one page ads than actually representing the truth for the electric sign industry.   Property managers and developers are fed a lot of marketing claims such as "savings"...."efficient"....."Return on investment".     I'm talking about Retrofitting from conventional light sources such as Fluorescent or Neon Lamps to LED   There is a lot of mis-information by these reps and sign companies who are looking to make profit on parts and labor of LEDs for something that makes no sense in most cases.  There is very little difference in power consumption between the three when it comes to equal light output, and very little difference in cost of operation.  IN fact in most cases, the ROI on retrofitting is and can be 20 to 40 years, and in that time consumers will be re-retrofitting many times over and that savings never comes.   So consumers who have no background or experience in light sources, or their cost of operation are being mislead into thinking Fluorescent and Neon Lamps are inefficient, dangerous and have poor light output, when actually the opposite is true.   But, you won't find any of this out from a light source rep who was a lift-gate salesman one day and a LED rep the next who has never even held, tested or evaluated a  Neon or Fluorescent lamp.       We have done a lot of testing here on the Sign Syndicate in lumen maintenance, cost of operation, and I probably would only trust about 10% of LED products out there on life, and that doesn't even scratch the surface of apples to apples light output.  When you hear or are being told statements such as "80% in savings and efficiency".....nothing is further from the truth because a rep is comparing a penlight to a mag-light and telling you the penlight is saving 80% in efficiency.     The truth is.....you can only claim one product is more efficient than the other when both have equal light output  BUT..... one is doing it at a lower cost of operation.  ONLY then can you claim one is actually more "energy efficient"   Sadly, there are a lot of sign producers who are lazy and or have very little knowledge of fabrication in integrating Fluorescent & Neon Lamps for illuminating signs OR, they prefer to have a lower cost/wage in employees that don't have the skill set in a wide variety of applications so they only produce with a "LED everything" attitude.  Which is great for them in a business sense....     ....but terrible for the consumer who can be left with a end-product that has cheap imported Chinese LEDs or product that has the environment that is too harsh for LEDs   There is something that consumers are NOT aware of.  Every light source has their strengths and weaknesses, and not one light source is a fit for all applications   
    • A-Plus Signs is the Central Valley's leader in electrical architectural signage. We pride ourselves on our fine craftsmanship and our outstanding customer service. Currently, we are seeking an energetic, committed team-player to fill our full time Signage Installer position. The ideal candidate must have at least (2) years experience installing and uninstalling signage and patch / paint stucco fascias. Experience with welders, torchers, and grinders desired. Responsibilities and Duties Job duties include (but are not limited to): Installing and / or uninstalling commercial signage including channel letters, monuments, freestanding signs, LED digital boards, and interior ADA signage Patching and painting exterior building fascias Servicing neon, LED, and fluorescent signs as well as exterior lighting Operate areal lift equipment Work at heights and in confined spaces Qualifications and Skills Must have a clean driving record. A DMV record search, background check and drug screening are required. Must provide your own basic hand and battery tools ( screw drivers, pliers, wire strippers, etc.). Benefits Benefits include Health insurance, paid vacation and holidays, and a generous 401(k) plan. Interested candidates should respond to this email and include their resume. Job Type: Full-time   Serious inquiries only please. If interested send resume to kaleym@a-plussigns.com
    • I remember a couple sign shops in town would loan/trade each other the font cards for the Gerber 4b.  I still say all the time that you can tell a graphic artist that drew or painted signs vs one that had only done stuff on the computer.  
    •       I'm going to avoid the comments above but throw in my two cents (which may be all my post is worth but..).      Way back in the dark ages when signs were still hand painted, a company called Gerber Scientific came out with the first good vinyl plotter.   And yes, there may have been others, but this was the first one that (at least in my area) saw large sales.   The local sign writers bemoaned the fact that now any "monkey with two fingers" (a phrase I heard more than once) could now lay out and make signs.   Other phrases like "its ruining the industry", "taking away jobs", etc. flew about.   I wonder if the first mass produced brushes got the same kind of comments?   We used to make wholesale channel letters (all by hand) and after I saw the Gerber 4-B at other shops,  I tricked (long story) my father into buying one.    it cost $10K (in 1982 dollars) when that was a tidy sum.   it came with a whopping seven fonts.   It saved us a lot of time, allowed us to stop hand cutting/reverse spraying faces, making letter patterns, etc.   I was just learning to hand letter at the time, but that was left on the wayside.  I still wish I had fully learned to hand letter but i digress.   Anyway, channel letter benders are just another tool.   In the hands of an experienced shop they can really be a money maker.  Digital printers are another similar item.  If you know how to use them (and market that service) you can make a lot of dough.  In the 21st century channel letters, digital prints, aluminum extrusions, etc. are all commodities.  You can buy an assemble-it / install-it yourself set of channel letters on-line from at least one source.  I wonder when Amazon or Walmart will start carrying channel letters, cabinet signs, etc.   Now, anyone with deep enough pockets can gain entry to the sign business, be it with electric signs, vinyl graphics, 3d carved signs, etc. by buying the right equipment AND hiring the right people.   TBH, isn't that the new business model in these times.   If you have enough $, you can get into most any business.   Put together a business plan, get a loan, assemble a team, rent appropriate space, buy "stuff" and run with it.  It will never be as easy as the franchise salespeople would make you believe, but people will try and some will succeed.     Now I'm putting on my helmet, body armor and hunkering down in my foxhole and try to avoid the shrapnel.
    • Hello Steve,   There has been a serious miscommunication here.  I made no comments that were directed toward you, UFB Fab, its size or skill and I apologize if you got that impression.  I'm unclear how you made that assumption based on my comment.  
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