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Editor's Note

Deserving Promotion

“What a way to make a livin’ …”




9 TO 5, a comedy highlighting women’s workplace challenges starring Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin, debuted in 1980. I absolutely believe it holds up — as funny today as it was more than four decades ago.

Sadly, that’s likely due as much to some issues remaining largely unresolved, as to the story and performances. And at the end — can you spoil a 42-year-old movie? — our heroes triumph over the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” when his boss recognizes the value of the leadership and changes the women brought … excluding the “equal pay thing.” Though overall hopeful, the ending serves as a realistic reminder that in many industries, women are still underrepresented at the top, even when they’re top contributors.

And so, we celebrate the winners of our third annual Women in Signs award. As in the film, they pushed through a “thick layer of men” — a phrase borrowed by one of our honorees that I’ve just learned and love! We hope you enjoy their profiles and join our in-person celebration at the ISA Expo on Wednesday, April 12, 4 p.m. in our booth (1653). There’s more, much more, to each of their stories.

Speaking of … did you know that Dolly Parton’s first job was part-time secretary for Nashville-based Northern Outdoor Sign? No “Franklin Hart” (the boss from 9 to 5), the owner, also Dolly’s neighbor, gave her a chance to write songs and make music contacts while at work. The country music legend went on to receive countless awards herself, including 11 Grammys.

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5 Smart Tips from This Issue

  1. Apps for mobile devices increase flexibility of data entry and reporting. (Tech Products)
  2. Check out the money- and eco-saving sustainability practices from several of your peers. (Sustainability and Signs)
  3. Mentorship improves new employee retention and fosters advancement. (Heidi Tillmanns)
  4. Watch for signs of burnout in your most dedicated and hardworking employees. (Maggie Harlow)
  5. Consider the options you have when another shop is copying your designs. (Real Deal)

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



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