I CAN’T EVEN begin to tell you how many columns I have written for Signs of the Times magazine. Over decades, it must be hundreds … on all kinds of sign-related topics. During my career as an ST columnist, I have covered topics ranging from specific Media 1 Wrap This projects, to tutorials on how to run, organize and hire for your business. (Well, they weren’t actual “tutorials.” They were just me spouting off on our adventures in the sign industry, good and bad.)
We’ve made it a point over the years to be as candid and open as possible about our triumphant successes, with an equal and opposite sprinkling of our epic failures and pitfalls. Hopefully, we have saved someone out there in Sign Land some heartache, learning from our (mis)adventures.
But in all this time, I have never written a column about Signs of the Times itself. That is, until now!
This past May, my business partner Rick Ream and I had the privilege of attending the 2022 ISA International Sign Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. We secured press passes and brought our YouTube series video production company along for the ride. Our purpose there was to interview some heavy hitters in the industry, such as 3M, HP, AkzoNobel, Grimco, Glantz and Tubelite, so people who couldn’t make it to the show would be able to watch our episodes on each, and find out the latest and greatest in the industry.
One of our first stops was the Signs of the Times booth, where we enjoyed a sit-down with Editor-in-Chief extraordinaire, Mark Kissling. Well, it was actually a stand-up. Mark told me they were saving the chairs for the important people : ) Here are some quick facts from that interview that even we didn’t know!
First, did you know that ST was founded more than a hundred years ago — in 1906 — by the same company that founded Billboard magazine? Yep, the music industry behemoth! (Mark said he wasn’t the editor back then, but I believe he was typesetting the Gutenberg press at that time…)
Also, after four generations of ST Media Group/Swormstedt-family ownership, in September of 2020, the company was acquired by SmartWork Media, a New Jersey-based company already specializing in business-to-business publications in different sectors.
Starting with a major redesign of both look and content in April 2021, the magazine has changed dramatically. And I, for one, am loving those changes. The magazine now reflects a very slick, modern, international look and feel — like someone who is not in the industry would want to pick it up and read it. Turns out, that was their master plan all along.
One of the major changes is something called the Brain Squad — a group of 200-plus (and growing) owners and managers of sign companies in the US and Canada — who are sent monthly surveys that delve into various industry-specific issues, allowing members to provide sales and other data, questions, advice, projects and more for inclusion in the magazine and on the website. The survey results from the members offer readers “from-the-trenches” info that is sure to be of concern to them as well. The Brain Squad has created a dynamic way for all of us to learn and grow together on an ongoing basis.
But why am I making you read all this when I know you want to watch the actual interview with Mark? Never fear … just scan the code above. But you might want to bring your own chair!
For more on the Signs of the Times Brain Squad, visit signsofthetimes.com/brainsquad.
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