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  1. This ISA Expo was very interesting I have to say so I thought I'd start a new thread from our Sign Syndicate Meet & Greet thread instead of taking a tangent. It wasn't as big as Vegas as I've commonly heard but that's not even important. It took us about 1 and a half days to see everyone we wanted to, or at least we tried to see everyone. Kirstie & I had the most interesting conversations I think we've ever had to date. We had a lot of people tell us their glad to have The Sign Syndicate around, and what it brings to the industry, and what it represents in their minds. We had a select few figure out who we were and give us dirty looks, or say "Oh, you're the one who questioned me about the 90% saving" and walk away from us. We also learned how certain companies just, "Screw" their employees, or companies putting the screw on the industry in general as if certain sectors of our trade weren't already bad enough, but let's just say they covered up that one with "doing it for the reason of safety". The industry has a bright side to it too. To see a lot of Father and Son companies composed of both custom sign shops and vendor/manufacturers, the same can be said for husband and wife. This family business IS refreshing and rejuvenating. These type of businesses tend to build, prolong pass on "Tradition" (Which is my word for this thread), keep integrity, honesty in our industry. Some have been around for a very, very long time. From Grandfather, to even great grandson. I think every sign company in our industry needs to make it a tradition to make an annual trip and visit a sign industry convention, be is the International Sign Association or others NO MATTER how busy you are. There's something more important about meeting and greeting face to face, rather than by phone, or in cyber space. Every manufacturer / distributor needs to do the same, whether they have a booth or whether they just show up to stroll the convention floor, you don't need a booth, BUT You need to show up, it's part of YOUR responsibility! I also got to see/hear a dark side, the side that tears this industry apart from the inside. When something tears apart from the inside it's much worse than something that comes from the outside. This comes when the most important characteristic of "tradition" is thrown out the window along with integrity, and honesty. It's disgusting to me how some of these manufacturers do in their own. It's sickening to see a company that was once generational, family orientated filled with long time "tradition" halls that once echoed the past, tear itself up from the inside out by the one who was groomed for the position (What's up with some of this generation?). All those years of family/business tradition, character, mowed over in an instant, perhaps even with a simple name change, new look. The old generation is dead, so their not looking anymore? So let's behave selfishly, lie, cheat and steal, anything to sell and throw ourselves in the forefront? We've seen it, we've seen these same people throw themselves in the forefront of trade magazines, their in leadership positions within our associations. Now character is part of that individuals personal code, sometimes these hard times bring out the best of us, sometimes it can amplify us much worse. I have a new word/label for those who find themselves forgetting or tossing out our industries "Traditions", loosing their "Integrity" and "Honesty". These individuals are....the "Fallen", and their all around us, seeking or trying to maintain position. They don't care about doing what's right, they only want to do what comes easy, Get what's coming for them. They want to "stay" in position, and they'll do anything to keep themselves there. I think in our own government we see a lot of this, it in no way benefits the rest of us if individuals in our leadership will do anything to keep themselves there, selling out our industry "traditions", integrity, and honesty. They'll sell out our freedoms and liberties too for their own personal gain and glory. Like any government or leadership body, there are factions within that body or makeup that don't see eye to eye. There are the "Do Nothings", the "Do Very Littles", and the real leaders who we need in this industry who, well....can't do much. Why can't they do much? Because a lot of the people within are willing to do what comes easy rather than do what's right. Sometimes these real leaders usually give up and exit because they just see it all as senseless, they won't compromise on their "values, integrity, principals nor give up traditions", and we loose our best this way. See, it's very hard for people to give up what they think is control and power. At times, most of the real leaders just step down after they feel they've served their time, it's not about ego or control for them, it's about "duty". I'm a parent like many of you. In a sense as we get older, and for those that care about our industry, the industry is sort of like our child. We'll put what we can into it, instilling/maintaining character, integrity, honesty and we'll pass on what values we have, most of all we will install our longtime "Traditions". "Traditions" is what's important, traditions of our industry are literally being SOLD out. That's what's killing our industry from the inside out by the "Fallen", they've forgotten, therefore they forget us and certain aspects of our trade. Now, when you love something like our children, you only TRULY love them, when you can give them up, so that they can go their own way, otherwise it's not love, it's control. You have to be willing to raise something with all you had and be prepared to let it go and possibly loose it, whether it will love you back, stay around or not. As you can tell, and if you follow what I write, you'll know I'm now mostly talking about our associations, I am. I've observed and written about them for a while and this trip just confirmed, it surprised me in a lot of ways, both in good ways and bad. Like anything else that starts, it started with VERY good intentions. When the founding of these associations first started way back before my time it was started by a group of individuals who came together with similar concerns, much similar to this site who is made up of individuals who became/are concerned about the way they can conduct business and maintain to put food on the table for their family from the government and bureaucratic control, or from monopolies. They soon band together and decided that they wanted to maintain their "traditions" to pass on to their kids and not compromise their values. They didn't want government our outsiders to come in and take away what they built and knew "to do", or make regulation on top of regulation destroying the very industry they love. Traditions", what is that? How many of us who have been in this business from generation to generation can look back, thinking about the days when we were young and observing the things our grandfather and father loved to do, the signs they built, the "craftsmanship", the discipline it took to achieve, the stories they told of good days and bad? I have none of that. In fact, I wonder why I'm here, and why I care so much. I have no memories and stories to relay about the sign days of old because I'm the first, and I'll probably be the last for me. But what I do have are the stories about my Grandfathers hard work. Primarily, the Character of my Grandfather who grew up in the Great Depression. The sacrifices he took in order to put the family first. Being the oldest boy of seven siblings who stopped going to school in the seventh grade, sacrificing his own future to better the family. I'm not going to bore you with family history but he did much more later in life. Principles, sacrifice, values, family, were very much a very big part of his character, even bigger was the fact that never talked about it like it was a big thing, to him it was just the right thing to do, and he never complained about it or looked to be recognized for it. Where did this generation go? That's why we call them the "Greatest Generation". THAT idea, of what they started so long ago before I was born and executed into an organization is so FAR gone and SO far out of site with a contrast so noticeable it's like standing on one side of the Grand Canyon and looking at the other side wondering when/how it split. That "tradition" of "Us" is gone. The model of "traditions" and high standards is broken. That's what's wrong with the existing model, OUR traditions have been stepped on, pieced away, and the colors of those mantle traditions have been so washed out and tattered, their symbol of what "Tradition" is now a doormat. Our Traditions have been under assault for a very long time and our leadership as trade magazine media or associations have done nothing, in fact, they've done quite the opposite, instead of protecting as they were originally founded/intended and promised to uphold, they've enabled the abuse and annihilation of it in the form of Fear Marketing (something that's executed and never explained) and failing to have the courage of doing what's right . Those founders with the original idea aren't here anymore. That's why this site is so important, it's about preserving and maintaining the character and traditions of our trade, and having people who believe in our traditions and maintaining/bringing character BACK in our trade. There are those that care about our industry in leadership positions still, and there are those that are only in it for personal gain, coupled with self promotion, their ego, they've let the relationships that they built dictate their decision to compromise their own core values and do what comes easy. We have to help those who have our like values, and care about preserving "Tradition" that we hold in high regard that are in these organizations who stand alone, because they're still there. The associations need to make some amendments within their own organization and realize that they need to limit their time in privileged positions . They need to know the importance of term limits, they need to realize carrying positions concurrently throughout different associations is NOT a positive position/stand to be in any longer, because the model has changed. For a positive change in our industry, and in order to protect and preserve our industries "Traditions and Values" It will require self sacrifice, it will be to say there is "NO" compromise with those who wish to maintain power who put their own ego and self serving agenda's first. I would ask in the name of preservation, moves be made to limit time one can stay in board positions. If you truly love something YOU have to be able to let it go. Let it go, and you will always have a home here. I'm sure of the fact, and almost dead certain to say that if those founders were here today and still in business they would be shocked/appalled to know what's happened to their original idea about preservation of tradition, and how unprotected and cheapened this industry has become, and those who have allowed it. I'm confident enough in my thought to say they would be instead VERY outspoken members here, and ready to start a new movement. Similar to the little boy who everyone came to love in those classic pictures illustrating Benjamin Franklin flying his kite to discover electricity with his son, who's relationship would make a turn for the worst and would put Father and son on the opposite sides in the struggle in the founding of this country. You see, they started to protect our way of doing business from government control and regulation. They wanted those entities out of our lives. They wanted to protect, honor traditions, values, instill principals from one generation to another when they left their business to their children. If they could see how these days, the new idea is too understand regulation, help/enable it, and turn it into a program for it's members or make it a way to help those they've built deep rooted relations with. Yes, I think I'm dead certain they would be very outspoken members here, and I'm sure it hurts those who are in an association or trade magazine, or who have long family history to read this, and come to grips with this reality. Now, the positive spin to this. Yes, the sky is not falling just yet. Every so often, when an idea takes a radical change and goes in another course there will be a generation that will come along, realize and understand that history has been forgotten, realize traditions are no longer held high as a standard to live by, realize integrity is lost, realize the model of values/principals is broken and the "Fallen" have multiplied and they have hijacked the establishment. That generation is now, it's you and I. You may or may not agree with me, but at least you're hearing about it, and you can't say you weren't told. I saw that, this last week, I saw it in a lot of big companies, I saw it in a lot of family business's, I saw it in association members whether their in the volunteer base or in the employed core. I see it when people help people, whether it benefits you to step up and do so or not. They say honor is doing what's right whether there is anyone there to witness you doing so or not, this is still here. I think there are some movements that we need to support above all others to make a change back to where we should be, and we don't need entities organizations to do it for us. I'd like to start here, so much has already started here, this is the new ground zero to getting back and keeping "tradition" alive. I want to see more participation, more people "show up", stop the lurking. If you commonly use this site and it benefits you by the information you gain here, support this site, if it helps you to learn about the people who pay on time and who to stay away from so you don't go out of business, then support this site. Upgrade your membership to a Board Patron or Vendor, get the extra benefits of doing so like light source testing results, tutorials, advertising packages, benefits that can help your business and benefit others at the same time. I honestly don't think we're that far off from having something bigger, and having the ability to group our own electrical engineers to protect and reverse/make motion to what's already been done. I don't think we're that far off to showing up in front of the CEC, or DOE, NEC panel on our own, just better organized with the right/pure intentions of preservation of our traditions. So much has been lost in such a short time, so much irreversible damage in mis-characterization that will take such a long time to repair, but it won't come on it's own. Remember and understand, you always read about Sign Associations coming in to combat regulation, it's not always in their best interest, or personal interest to do so. They always market/champion the idea it's ONLY them, it's not, there are individual manufacturers and entities that fight for these causes too. WE can couple with them too, they who have a bigger interest than self-preservation or finding a benefit to fold and turn it into a program, BUT a way in maintaining the way we do business and being able to conduct it "Freely". What the Fallen don't understand is, sometimes "Doing Nothing" is much better than doing something, just like politicians. Sometimes we don't need to make adjustments or add code to the way we manufacture signs and components. Some individuals think that they need to "do something" to make it appear they are doing something, sometimes consultants THINK they need to justify money being spent on them so they must "do something". Every time you "Do Something" we LOOSE something. Let me tell you something. I KNOW it's broken when I ask a key employed association member who started, who originated a movement/motion in a volunteer base energy subcommittee, a committee who then voted and agreed to move forth with more regulation to the NEC panel that would have DEVASTATED the already barely breathing neon industry of our trade, a long standing "Tradition", AND then tell me they don't know who it was that came up with such a motion. I had another association member who's deep rooted within tell me "That's bullshit he doesn't know!....he should know". As if the omissions to act in mis-characterizations done my trade magazines and associations themselves in the public opinion arena weren't enough, now they have to find a code to kill it, to speed up the process, some of those have their own agenda for doing so, either that or they just simply want to justify their existence and should not be in the position they are in. Enabling ways to kill our "Traditions". Now, I'm not saying that key person I asked is being deceitful with me, but if they don't know when they should, then what does that say about the model and chain of responsibility to check and verify? How well do they know what they're being told that doesn't lead into serving an agenda? How well do they know their own people that have been in their organization for a VERY long time? There are some within these associations that have no business being there in the first place, they are just there to make themselves look pretty, adjust their tie before entering a conventions floor and say "I belong, I'm important", a way to get something or position themselves for something later on. Why would you and I want people in these associations who have important roles that can make a difference, and can have the ability to affect when it comes to legislation to stand in important industry workshops and hearings and not speak up, not have the moral courage, fortitude, to say or do what's right. Instead make the conscious decision to not stand your ground, and let someone from the energy commission or utility company mis-characterize the lighting aspect of our industry, make false statements, make poor ridiculous comparisons that hurt and devastate this industry. Why would you want someone who will stand by, who is representing us in important matters, and allow themselves to get ROLLED on? Is it because their more concerned about their future relations at the next meeting, or how they might look, is it picking relations over principal? Where is the fight? Do we live in France? Can we hear a couple of gun shot first before we get run? Where is our brawler, our Champion? Are they afraid of conflict? What else can be done? The Environmental / Product Safety Movement. Other ways we can defeat this industry capitalism killer is to support it's competition, we start a new movement to stop making a 500 lbs. gorilla even bigger, I'm talking about U.L., U.L. Who has gotten so far out of hand with regulation and cost in our industry. An entity who has, enabled and even used as a tool by some with an agenda to annihilate our traditions by creating new code, creating new ways to build profit farms all under the guise of "safety". This is the Environmental, Product Safety movement/machine, that robs us of our god given liberties and freedoms of doing business and robbing our us of our personal liberties, and all at the same time driving up cost and taking incentive away from the inventor. They are getting so big they are buying up all these environmental labs to build their new UL-E or underwriter Laboratories Environment (which OUR associations & trade magazines endorse/promote) which does nothing more than build a fictitious standard to measure the fictitious Green movement. Well who do you think gets stuck with the bill??? Us, YOU! They have to justify costs for all these acquisitions and new charges to us, so what better way then to expand in areas not required by OSHA standards set on other listing laboratories. So to combat this machine we must look and encourage, put our money into their new biggest competitor, MET Laboratories. We have a alternative, and we must send a message in a large scale exodus. If we don't support Listing Labs like MET, they loose their incentive to stick around and be the competition. In closing... These were my observations, conversations, and thoughts while strolling around at the show with Kgirl. When most saw the Expo for what they think it was about, LED Boards and Flat Panel Printers, going to Disney World and Universal Studios. I saw something else. That's why it's important that you show up, and talk to people, work can hold for a few days, you just tell them you have an important convention to go to that will assure that you can continue to build them the product they like, and at a decent price. Lastly... For anyone in the Associations who know me or don't, either in the core employed, or the volunteer base that have integrity, are principled, selfless, believe in preserving/protecting/bringing back traditions of this industry. THIS site is here to help and serve, to be your tool in anyway it can to assure you can get the job done. I DON'T believe you need to bridge a gap between you and the "Fallen" and compromise your values, the values of this industry. The hell with them, it's time to step on the accelerator and pin the pedal to the floor. You do know what they say what you should do if you're about to hit a deer? Well, that's what I'm going to do. Hate to sound vague in some parts, or even sound like I'm speaking in code, but I am.
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