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Kirk Brimley (1927-2014)

The sign industry’s highest honor is named after him

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The sign and visual-communications industry has lost a passionate advocate and lifelong friend. Kirk Brimley, recognized for his unwavering commitment and meaningful relationships, died November 21 at age 87 in Salt Lake City.

After a lengthy career in the sign industry, Mr. Brimley was presented the 1995 Distinguished Service Award by the National Electric Sign Assn., the precursor to the Intl. Sign Assn. In 1998, the ISA Board of Directors voted to rename the award after Mr. Brimley. The ISA Kirk L. Brimley Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to an ISA member who has made a significant impact on the association and the industry.

It is fitting that it is named for Mr. Brimley, as he embodied the attributes of the award throughout his lengthy career.

His father and uncle began Brimley Brothers Sign Company in 1929. He learned all aspects of the business, beginning by sweeping the shop floors. He moved into design, fabrication and installation of all types of signs, including neon.

In 1975, Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) acquired Brimley Brothers, where it quickly became apparent that Kirk Brimley had an ability to get signs permitted where others failed. Those skills were soon put to good use at YESCO and eventually the industry at large.

“Everywhere I would go, I would run into people who considered Kirk a lifelong friend. Even those individuals who may have been considered adversaries to the industry trusted and respected Kirk,” said Jeffrey Young, a current ISA board member who worked closely with Mr. Brimley at YESCO. “He had an amazing way of breaking down barriers and creating deep and meaningful personal connections with everyone he met. He was a mentor to me and to the industry in more ways than I could ever express.”

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When he retired from YESCO in 2009—after 35 years of service—numerous local codes officials offered tributes, with many referencing his integrity and collegiality in seeking resolution.

He used that same approach as NESA’s vice president of legislation for nine years. He was at one time president of the Utah Sign Assn. and chairman of the Intermountain Electric Sign Assn. He also represented the sign industry on numerous federal, state and local regulatory boards.

“Our industry continues to reap the benefits of the groundwork laid by Mr. Brimley and other visionary leaders who built bridges with those who regulate our products,” said Lori Anderson, ISA president and CEO. “These days, we continue to have more success conveying the importance of signs to businesses. I have no doubt that these efforts would be far more difficult without people like Kirk Brimley.”

Mr. Brimley’s wife of 65 years, Carole, passed away earlier this year. A funeral is planned after the Thanksgiving holiday.

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