Signs of the Times - November 2013 - (Page 104)

EDITORIALLY SPEAKING “Clearly, sign companies greatly represent classic America.” By Wade Swormstedt Great Expectations America should be more like sign companies. AmericaGeneration’s mindset of duty, work ethic, has one huge, overriding problem. The Greatest patriotism, etc., has slowly been replaced by entitlement expectations.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 nothing. 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 adjustment follows? 104 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / NOVEMBER 2013 / 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 them samples?” 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 be supported. 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
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Caldera Flow+ 2.0 software and its Version 9.20 RIP
Technology Review - KeyedIn™ Sign Edition software
New Products
Design Matters
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
Deep Thoughts
Temporary Vanity
LEDs: The Omnipresent Illuminators
Accessible Training
Advertising Index
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - November 2013