By Erik Sine
Sign & Digital Graphics - What's In The Cabinet
By Ryan Fluger
It doesn't get any better than this.
Of course it's happening at Sign & Digital Graphics brochure magazine of all places.
This time it's coming from Ryan Fluger or "Fluker", and it's finally happened, they had to pull the Vinyl, Sticky Car Wrap Writer to write about electric signs and educate us that live and breathe in this trade.
That says it all! Read no further...
What is the greatest common detonator in all these articles we never really read?
No real measurable facts, figures, or cost of operation displayed or explained in their marketing article about their products, or the conventional light source products their trying to compare their products too to illustrate a return on investment.
We only read Marketing Claims that are simply executed, never explained.
It's bad enough when Principal LED's Bryan Vincent writes these, who also now owns Ventex a Neon & LED component manufacturer (A big contradiction if I've ever seen one). But I guess these days he's too busy to write this month with his new move to a bigger facility where their "Assembling China in America" on their work benches.
If I were Bryan Vincent I would be embarrassed to be included in this article for the biggest punch line I've ever seen to date. Maybe he didn't know what was about to be said and it was too late to push the "Eject Button" or scream for Ken Mergentime to yank the keyboard away from the "Fluke"
Bryan better put down the solder gun, and fortune cookies on the work bench and take away the typewriter that Ryan "Fluker" took this month. Not to say Vincent's monthly marketing bullshit is any easier to swallow but at least it's more believable bullshit. Afterall who reads this crap? Yes, fellow tradesman and women who are actually in this industry something THEY do not even understand their just "vendor visitors" here
It comes from Jason Horton, a director of Marketing ERrrrr....Lighting....from US LED.
Maybe Mr. Farmer just had him thawed out from the 2005 cold storage locker and has no clue on current events
Because even where most LED manufacturer's will admit (and in this article even) MAYBE their products will last as usable light at 50,000 hours of operation, Jason Horton is making the amazing claim his will EXCEED 100,000 hours and EVEN to 200,000 hours of operation on their LED lighting products for Sign Cabinets
Measurable Facts, Figures, Cost of operation, where are they? We know they don't have any because again, they just execute exciting statement but never explain.
They can feel free to plug in their numbers here, oh yeah....it's Real!
By Erik Sine
Sign Industry Fake News
Fake News has become a recent term that came about our country's recent election BUT, the term has well defined our industry for some time
I've been asleep and was pretty much dormant for some time writing about the writers of our industry, the self claimed "Trade Magazines", or as most of us well seasoned tradesman and women like to call them, the "Trade Rags, Brochure Rags, Brochure Magazines".
I took a brief leave because one of the worst magazines in our industry did a complete 180˙ from bad to good, Signs of The Times started doing a better job of balanced industry information. I coined the editors name of Wade to "Community Organizer" because for a period of time it became all about the broad positions he held and surrounded himself with, ISA, the Foundation, his Advertisers, and being Media. I took that title away after SOT turned for the better, and Brochure Magazines like Sign Builder Illustrator, & Signs & Digital Graphics continued to decline.
Once I heard Wade was leaving and another took his position, I had a feeling it was only a matter of time where I would once again be writing about, the writers. I didn't get to coin the new name of SOT, another did and it's well fitting, "The Community Agitator". That is because she has strong core political convictions that divide everyday American's, and that spilled into the Magazine one month and after so many complaints she choose NOT to address it or support her position.
SOT today, we can officially say has slowly started to decline once again.
This is all okay.
It's okay because as you might already know, their not highly read anymore as they once were, and one day they will go the way of the Penny Saver, here today, gone tomorrow.
You don't have to take my word on this, just look at any of the three and you'll see that they have become more and more thin over time, it's like they went on a crash diet from paper.
Sign Builder at one time was the better of the three, and SDG has always been consistent, consistent as being known as the lowest of the low.
Sign & Digital Graphics is the only one to this day tied to Convention Shows, so it might be the reason why they position themselves to be more promotional than actual informational though....that seems to be changing, maybe more on that later
If there is one Magazine above all others that wears the badge name of "Fake News" it's Sign & Digital Graphics.
In fact, I don't even know why they bother to have an editor. There should just be a online shopping cart that had a Bonus Button that can be added with purchase "with annual purchase of full page ads, submit your free marketing material here".
I don't read Sign & Digital Graphics that much but I noticed a peculiar article the other day posted on LinkedIn called LED Insights. Having some background knowledge it peaked my interest.
SDG LED Insights is written by Bryan Vincent, also co-owner of Principal LED, who also owns Ventex, Ventex is a consolidation of both Ventex & Transco. Ventex and Transco are known for their Neon Products, Ventex primarily for their SST Neon Transformers. For a period of time Ventex tried to promote and sell a proprietary class I LED system that had has had some very bad power supply issues. We had a number of them fail on our own in house testing that Ventex supplied us for their products. Needless to day, Ventex tried harder at one point to push their LEDs over their customer/following preferred long time legacy Neon Components by pushing Retrofitting of LED VenBrites. They still might continue that marketing today, I just haven't kept up.
Ventex who once was a champion of Neon tuned bad guy over night with their CEO (John Boyd) putting on seminars that Neon 15/30 Transformers loading 15mm Red consume 510 watts.
He was one of the early helpers in our Sign Syndicate's Great White Hope Project Test. He knows full well they do not. He conveniently left out the power factor of that transformer to push the ROI and appearance of their LEDs much better.
A 15/30 max load are also 3.75 watts (name plate value). 3.75a x 120v x .57 (NPF) = 256.5w
Also, no one loads these to max usually 80%, or 205 watts
So to learn of this was very disappointing, and it said to me ..."desperate"
So....Fake News, and SDG "LED Insights", which should really be called Principal LED insights...HELL, the SDG should just be called "Principal LED Sign & Digital Graphics".
I haven't picked up an issue in some time but all electric sign marketing says Principal LED whether it's photo's used for another rep, ERRRRrrrr.....writer, and Ventex, with a throw in of "Bitro" once in a while, still trying to figure out that relationship.
Back to the 2014 article that popped up on LinkedIn the other day, the LED insights for January 2014 just circles the companies co-partners, and when it came to quoting it was only the close related, sure some other companies were named but let's look at the primaries who played a big part in the article who were the story passing off marketing claims as if they were fact and going to different sources, which in fact they were all coming from only one source in reality. This is probably before the Principal officially owned Ventex, but obviously their sites were already set on the acquisition . No proof but it's my opinion, a little research would be required but it's a safe bet to assume.
Who can take the never ending loop of Principal LED in S&DG seriously, and in "matter of fact"?
Just this month, we have their "The Life of the Lighted Sign" by "freelance" Ryan Fugler, pictures in bold print "Image courtesy of Principal LED". I mean, how kind of them to donate their pics to be promoted once again in the Principal LED magazine??? Out of 11 photo's 5 are Principal's, the rest are Bitro....again. The dynamic Duo.
No matter what happens in the brochure magazine you just can't escape the two companies or quotes by either of them. It's any wonder that any LED company actually exists in the sign industry other than these two in the S&DG World.
Just like EVERY Marketing article that this brochure Magazine pimps out, there is one thing they ALL have in common and that is that there are NO real numbers are ever put out, only vague marketing points.
Whether it's Pro's and Con's of all light sources discussed, Light Output, or Cost of Operation, those are facts and numbers they will NEVER put out, because they can't....THAT would defer YOU as the reader and question the entire article because once you have a standard or relationship of the light sources the rest is easy to figure out
They depend on the ignorance of the reader, the editor (maybe, or not, maybe it's a nice chunk of change to turn the other way or ask questions), and customer base is clearly built on "if you say it enough times, it's believable....and if it's in print, it MUST be true!
Principal & Bitro must be the best thing out in the market because that's all you read about in Sign & Digital Graphics
By Erik Sine
I may split this off into a separate thread from the original topic and I should probably write one single article and condense all the info from this board into one
Since so many large retailers, movie theater chains and shopping center developers read the info here on The Sign Syndicate I'm sure they will find it a kick in the pants.
In a nut shell, it...the decline in Neon Production had a snowball effect that started small and quantified
There have always been small to large national companies who just built shit for signs, they always have, and that continues today, same business model no matter what light source is being used or how it's being installed. So in some ways back in 2005, LED's were appealing, it was the new "wow". The marketing material was completely false, and so the mis-characterizations of conventional light sources were born i.e. Neon and soon after Fluorescent lamps.
Trade magazines being the mainstream media they are flocked to the story and followed, the "Oooooo's....awwwwww's.." without EVER questioning the actual results, brightness, longevity, color rendering etc etc. The suppliers had a new "thing" to pimp, and they were also blanketed by false notions and mis-information. Afterall, if it's in print by the so called trade magazines or brochure rags as I called them, then it MUST be true....right???
Your hacks who never cared about quality, long life, brightness were just repeating what they did best, create crap and install crap but this time had a better way to bullshit customers with new marketing claims. This time it was dimmer, and failing because they themselves never bothered to check result, buy the cheapest module afterall an LED is an LED!!!! No real education just marketing statement...execute but NEVER explain. Then we all saw the major failures across the country with Permlight, Electra LED i.e. Chase, BOA, and you name it.
Years later we all saw the market go towards LEDs, and Neon shrunk. While all this was happening we all saw the shift in the International Sign Association Expo's makeup at shows and in membership. A lot of LED companies like GE and others were given government subsidies (our tax dollars) for R&D and with that major campaigns were launched and we all saw HUGE one page ads
This whole time other than The Sign Syndicate, LED & Neon light sources have never been tested in any kind of benchmark for the industry. You would think our cartel leadership like International Sign Association would have jumped on this, but the money was too good and the ignorance was too deep. Why I've always said its a bad idea to have a major non-profit composed of those other than those that are in this trade. International Sign Association to it's credit had some small seminars that Kirstie & I personally attended on Neon and electric sign applications. Those were pretty much a waste of time and joke. The Reason? Relationships. In the crowd was Sloan and other LED reps, and when hard questions were raised about longevity, brightness, how they compare to LED's the Neon guys spines and knees folded like a cheap walmart lawn chair. They pussied out, so they ought not to offend. There was maybe one of two who wanted to unleash, but those who were running the actual program opted not too to save face and not start a debate which is the reason why I showed. I asked some hard questions but they were pushed aside. Same questions I asked in San Diego show and the CA Edison guy skirted over. Neon had it's chance but it failed and caved to relationship saving and political/industry correctness
Years before that an LED rep went in front of the California Energy Commission for title 24 to impress them and in front of the California Sign Association who attended and claimed that his LED that is just as bright as Neon is only a half watt, an Neon is 12 watts per foot. That was a show stopper, but not as big as the CSA standing around and "doing nothing", no contest, no protest to the false claims. There was a second time/chance to correct the matter, electrical engineers were sent but it was too late, minds were made up and the CEC never finalized their report on Neon. Closed case. Again, if it's in print in a Trade Magazine it MUST be true!!!
This is a history our longtime association board members who have been in this association and that association hate to hear or have repeated, in fact they used to come on this board and try to tell us different, and tell us that this is false, in fact we ought not question their wisdom because they are our "elders" and THEY are our "betters". But you can't rewrite history. In fact, even with all this, they still to this day have not done a damn thing to correct any of it it's just been swept under the rug.
As of the past few years with Neon at an all time low, demand dwindling. UL decided to be UL, and conjure up more excuses in the name of safety (The environmental product safety movement) to get ye old profit farm up and again and decided component molds needed to be changed, wire diameter too etc etc. But unfortunately that comes with a HIGH cost to retool, remold, 25K-40K here and there to retest, evaluate, etc etc, even more for mold changes, tool changes. Westrim, Transco and others said "Fuck it". It's not worth the money to spend vs demand. Ba Bye PK's, housings and others. Ba bye to those future testing/annual product listing fee's they were supposed to collect
Finally we have the Sign shops, wholesalers themselves.
I have lot's of friends who are reading and I'm probably going to offend a good amount of them. A big fault down the line which is now, is the sign shops who either produce signs, or sub out to wholesalers.
Signs shops these days don't have the "know how" when it comes to Fluorescent or Neon Signs. They've opted for cheap labor. A lot of franchisee sticky sign shops have gotten in because LED's are easy and so are channel letter machines, and their parent Franchise HQ's have pushed the International Sign Association and others to get state law changed so they can operate without a contractors license, and skip the ability of needing a license to sub-contract. i.e. Wisconsin, Texas
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
Pist off Neon Mfg suffering from their own doing based on that article:
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
So.....to our poll. It's been a little over 4 years since we started the first poll
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.