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Editor's Note

Culture Watch

Nearly 9 in 10 sign pros agree: Culture is critical to a company’s performance and success.




AFTER I GRADUATED from high school, I took a summer job in a factory shipping department. It was hot, hard work and the week of July 4, because we were so busy and only working four days, my boss announced we’d be starting at 5 a.m. every day that week instead of 7 a.m.

I remember repeatedly mentioning at least I was motivated by two hours of sweet sweet overtime pay each day. Bossman remained quiet; his assistant only smiled. When payday arrived, I ran straight for an explanation of 40 hours of regular pay. “Overtime starts after 40 hours,” the boss said, “not after eight hours per day.” His assistant laughed…

Amidst my current reading about what our Brain Squad thinks about company culture and motivating their teams, I revisited that experience from nearly 40 years ago. The entire factory and my boss presided over a culture of extraction — just get the work done. No employee had a gun to their head to stay, myself included, but there wasn’t a single one of us who wouldn’t have rather worked anywhere else every single day. And the thing is, it didn’t have to be that way.

Happily, “caring” rates quite highly among the company cultures shared by the Brain Squad (check here). Somewhat surprisingly, for an industry chock full of family companies, less than five percent of our Squad reports managing relatives. Even so, many respondents used the word “family” to describe their successful company cultures, and several others, “team.”

So, check out our lead story for 14 ideas far better than “extraction” on cultivating culture and motivating your team.

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5 Smart Tips from This Issue

  1. For tight angles and clean edges, nothing works better than laser cutters. (Tech Products)
  2. Partner with a wholesaler until you’re ready to bring channel letter manufacturing in house. (Mind Benders)
  3. Face the inevitability of market changes by keeping your business nimble. (Maggie Harlow)
  4. Get attention for electric sign borders the old school way, by adding flash and chase bulbs. (Eric E. Larsen)
  5. Find out how much — or little — you would compromise with this demanding new customer. (Real Deal).

Mark Kissling is Signs of the Times’ Editor-in-Chief. Contact him at



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