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Come Together

Sign industry camaraderie displayed at Northwest Sign Council, opening of National Neon Sign Museum.

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Attending my first US regional sign association meeting recently in The Dalles, OR – my very first was the BC Sign & Graphics Show in Vancouver – was a lesson in the very cool ways people can work together.

The Northwest Sign Council met to discuss new opportunities – and their two top challenges: permitting and workforce development. The group was recently successful in easing restrictions for lighting retrofits in Washington state, and has turned its attention to cities like Portland, OR and Olympia, WA, with onerous sign permitting processes. 

Afterward, we tromped down the hill in sweltering temperatures to celebrate the grand opening of the National Neon Sign Museum. Proprietor David Benko welcomed us to his two-story museum and event hall with a springy wooden floor designed for dancing and dozens of vintage signs (David’s private collection reportedly contains 300+ signs).

David is a familiar face; he formerly curated for the American Sign Museum. He’s also something of a maverick, someone with a lifelong penchant for collecting who happened upon signs and grew to love them. He convinced The Dalles to love them, too; its mayor has been a major proponent of the new museum.

He has also gone a long way to sell the project outside the industry, as evidenced by the launch’s packed finale: a parade (think old cars cruising down the main drag). It started at dusk, just as I was sprinting home to prep for a backpacking trip. When one of cars’ throttle stuck, a fire broke out, and it was only due to Marine and Northwest Sign Council member Bryce Saddoris’ quick actions that no one was harmed, per an eyewitness. Saddoris represents Altec on the council.

Another example of sign industry decisiveness, perhaps. Better said, another example of sign industry teamwork under pressure. I’m sorry the parade ended that way, but glad to see signmakers coming together, whether to mitigate unruly permitting, celebrate a collector’s day of glory or jump in when duty calls.

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Good luck to the industry’s newest museum, and look for one of our editors covering your sign association meeting or event!

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