Signs of the Times - November 2013 - (Page 104)
“Clearly, sign companies greatly
represent classic America.”
By Wade Swormstedt
America should be more like sign companies.
AmericaGeneration’s mindset of duty, work ethic,
has one huge, overriding problem. The
patriotism, etc., has slowly been replaced by entitlement
expectations. “I deserve” has supplanted “I will serve”
in the mindset of the majority. It permeates every facet
of contemporary society and ensures America will
remain in its quagmire.
The fantastic freedoms that our Constitution guarantees
are all about opportunities, not results. Yet society is now
conditioned to believe that good jobs, good pay, houses,
cars, medical care, retirement money, etc., should be
guaranteed, regardless of skillsets or work ethic.
ST’s unofficial demographic data says 45% of our
sign-company subscribers have five employees or less.
If this is you, are you guaranteed a salary? Do you get
overtime after 40 hours? Clearly, sign companies greatly
represent classic America. They reap what they sow.
Pure and simple.
Many business sectors accepted bailouts. Some
paid them back. Others continue to depend on federal
stipends, perks, etc. In most cases, these were the huge
companies. Because of their lack of clout, small businesses
are largely ignored by Congress, as minimal political
gain can be achieved by serving them. Not surprisingly,
in stark contrast, the sign industry essentially asks for
Well, nothing in terms of favors. But the sign industry
does ask, “Please don’t set up unnecessary impediments
to our business. If you’re going to regulate us, at least
take the time to understand what our functions are,
and how vital we are to the nation’s economy.”
That said, sign companies should be good, civic
contributors. Involvement with your community’s
activities should be a given, and not just when a signcode issue arises. And donations should be a factor,
both for their promotional value and simply because
it’s the right thing to do. Occasionally.
But to what extent? You’re in business to make a
profit, and to pay your employees so they can take
care of their families, and to contribute tax revenue
locally. Do the same entities constantly ask for handouts
or unreasonable discounts? If you honored all of them,
you would eventually be out of business, and then
who would benefit?
And yes, customer service is a significant component
of most businesses, but, again, to what extent? Do you
have customers who agree to a sign, and a price, and
then come back with, “Oh, could you just add this . . .?,”
and are then incredulous when a corresponding price
104 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / NOVEMBER 2013 / www.signweb.com
Virtually everyone wants something for nothing.
Everyone wants a discount, a bargain, special consideration. And those prudent enough to shop around
deserve those perks, because they put forth the effort
to unearth them.
Publishers can relate. We are able to make a profit
(sometimes), pay our employees and contribute local
tax revenue because we sell ads. Twenty years ago, we
could rely on decent money from subscriptions, but
the Internet has completely altered that dynamic.
Consequently, we have to rely on advertising dollars.
Product manufacturers understandably want free
publicity. Every one of them would like us to write a
feature story about them.
We strive to provide sign companies with good
information. We know our New Products section is
extremely important to you. That’s why it runs so long.
Product manufacturers need not spend a penny with
us to be included. Sagely, “customers” (product manufacturers who spend money with us) are always included.
Realistically, companies that advertise most likely make
good products you’d like to know about.
As I write this, we’re getting ready for the SGIA
show. For this, as well as for the ISA and USSC shows,
we get requests from marketing people to visit their
booth to learn about their new products. We’re happy
to do so. We learn a lot. We get significant good
information that we can, in turn, present to sign
companies for consideration.
But I’ve always wanted to ask some of the “noncustomers” who incessantly ask for free publicity: “Do
you give free samples to sign companies? What if a
sign company requested free samples for a decade, but
never bought your product? Would you continue giving
Some companies want to capitalize on some of the
marvelous opportunities of a tradeshow, but they don’t
exhibit. Yet they want to meet with you in the tradeshow’s vicinity. Associations aren’t perfect, but they
certainly put money back into the industries they
represent. Overall, they’re a huge asset. They should
There’s tremendous gray area between donor benevolence and donee entitlement. Mary Chapin-Carpenter
sang a song with a great line, “It’s too much to expect,
but it’s not too much to ask.”
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - November 2013
Signs of the Times - November 2013
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Caldera Flow+ 2.0 software and its Version 9.20 RIP
Technology Review - KeyedIn™ Sign Edition software
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
LEDs: The Omnipresent Illuminators
Signs of the Times - November 2013