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Why Is it So Difficult to Find Information about the Sign Industry? Plus More of Your Questions for May

Plus, advice on building LED signs.




Why is there so little solid information available about the makeup of the sign industry in the US? Hard data such as annual sales, number of companies, average company size, number of employees, top 100 sign companies, etc.

“One reason might be the many-faceted aspect of our industry compared to other manufacturing sectors, especially when it comes to how those in our industry classify themselves under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). We have many different segments that don’t always fit under “Sign Manufacturing.” Other members of our industry classify themselves under NAICS codes that cover commercial printing, advertising and graphic design, wholesale, repair and installation, and even automotive upholstering. And this doesn’t take into account those businesses that create signs as secondary product lines. It’s very difficult to come up with reliable comprehensive numbers when there are these considerations. — DAVID HICKEY, Vice President of Advocacy, International Sign Association (Alexandria, VA)

Where can I get information on building LED signs — what type of LED, how far apart to space them, power supply size, etc.

Many of the leading sign-module LED manufacturers will provide help with all of these questions. Get in touch with your supplier, or, if yours doesn’t offer this service, try a new one. You’ll need to send them a detailed drawing of your sign.


When is it appropriate to charge for design time? How do you accomplish this when so much of the sign industry is giving this away for free?

Some signshops charge upfront for design time/artwork and some do not. Maggie Harlow, CEO of Signarama Downtown Louisville (Louisville, KY), presented the case for charging for design in her column last month.

How do I get my staff to read our company policy?

Make it fun. At your weekly meeting, offer to buy a large premium coffee for the first person who can correctly answer a question from the employee manual. The key is to have everyone participating, so put names in a hat and draw one at a time. That way, every staff member knows there is a chance he or she could be called upon to provide the answer.

Typos are always creeping into my weekly newsletter. I guess I just stink at proofreading. Any tips at what I can do to get better?

Our initial advice is to spell-check. (Did you do that? Well, did you?) However, spell-check isn’t infallible, so, in addition, before emailing or sending anything to the printer, direct marketing consultant Martha Retallick has a suggestion: “I read every word out loud. Slowly and carefully, just like I did back in first grade reading class.” Also, when you’re reading aloud and you stumble over some wording or something doesn’t sound right, chances are it needs to be rewritten.

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