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Potential Signmakers Get a Taste of the Industry on 2021 Sign Manufacturing Day

61 participating sign companies provided shop-floor access to curious students.

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Signshops across the country opened their doors to students on Oct. 1 for Sign Manufacturing Day, organized by the International Sign Association (ISA; Alexandria, VA) with a total of 61 participating companies.

The annual event, which takes place on the first Friday of October, is an opportunity for companies in the visual communications industry to connect with students in their areas. Companies in the sign, graphics and visual communications sector hold tours of their facilities, encouraging students to explore careers in signs.

“After seeing the excitement in the students’ faces and realizing that we can make a difference, we’ve enjoyed welcoming students back year after year,” said Amanda King, people and culture leader of Poblocki Sign Company (Milwaukee), which was participating in Sign Manufacturing Day for the fourth time.

“Our team was excited to get involved and give demonstrations in various manufacturing areas throughout the tour,” she added. “This was the first time these students saw a manufacturing floor first-hand. Allowing students to see the project go from concept to completion helps transform the vision into a reality … and we hope we can hire some of them through our apprenticeship program.”

Michael Miller of Ortwein Sign (Chattanooga, TN) said his company decided to participate in Sign Manufacturing Day after seeing photos and video from other sign companies’ tours in previous years.

“This was our first truly public event and our first opportunity to engage with the greater community in a new way,” he said. “Attendees included students, architects, aspiring business leaders and more folks from our local community. We’re delighted to see that so many people share our enthusiasm for sign manufacturing and the high-quality craftsmanship. Even our own team members walked away learning more about the work we do every day.”

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Through Sign Manufacturing Day, signshops are afforded opportunities to build bridges with local schools. ISA President and CEO Lori Anderson said the program will continue to serve as a solution to the industry’s challenge of finding new workers.

“Participants have built ongoing relationships with local high schools, community colleges and technical schools, developing internships, co-op programs and job shadowing. This has led to many new hires, solving a critical need for these companies,” she said.

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