Sign & Digital Graphics

December '14

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8 • December 2014 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S Until Death Do Us Part B y R I C K W I L L I A M S In the Trenches solve the ongoing frustrations and persistent prob- lems associated with being a commercial sign business owner/manager. But, it's been 40 years, and I'm just not seeing it. Not that I'm going to divorce myself from this business, possibly not 'til death do us part. Like I said, endurance is my strong suit, but that doesn't mean I can't get annoyed. I get annoyed when we get hit by an attack of "the piddly diddlies," or a long string of jobs from $15 to $50, from numbers on a mailbox, changing a pastor's name, swapping dates on a reused banner, hour change numbers on a glass door, and on and on and on. They are no big deal, until these jobs line up end to end along with the multiple phone calls and emails that go with them. And if we charged enough to make a living doing this type of work, word would soon go out that Rick's Sign Co. is owned by a shark and a louse. And, I can still be a bit peeved by clients who really think I can work a miracle of no small proportion, and take a tiny 15kb .jpg file, and blow it up to a 4' x 8' sign or banner? Did I say 15kb, oh no, the current record is 7kb, but I'm sure that one will be broken sometime soon. Dealing with clients who change their minds about text or art, after spending an hour or two on their proposal, well those are always fun. And the countless unbilled hours of cleaning up art for some charitable organization, the PTA, or a well-intended golf tourna- ment are all well and good, but after 40 years, even if endurance is your strong suit, you begin to wonder whether you need to pull another long night or go and see a head shrinker? Now, I wrote all these things with a smile on my face, knowing that quite a few of you would relate to one or all of them. They seem to come with the ter- ritory, and I would be very surprised if there are easy solutions that I have carelessly overlooked. But, I am all ears. Well, at 60 years old, I'm more ears than I used to be, anyway. So, if you have the solutions, just pass them my way. I'd like to get this thing right just once before I retire, at least. And if you have long since solved the annoyingly persistent challenges of making a sign company run just the way it ought to, I won't ask you to "have a great month," you're having one already. And to the rest of my "Trenches" readers, you have a great month anyway. I almost always do. M arriage has never been easy, and it surely is not these days. Being married to a business of any type, but especially the commercial sign business, isn't a walk in the park either. For me, I've been married to my one-and-only, Sharon, for just over 40 years, and if you add a year or two to that number you know how long I have been making signs. Although, and Sharon would surely attest to this, I haven't managed either relationship anything close to perfectly. I guess I might still get points for plain old endurance. Mrs. Fambles, an elderly and spunky lady we were good friends with for years, before she moved away to be closer to her kids, had a number of things to say about marriage. She told me she admonished her granddaughter to be mighty leery of the young men courting her affections, and reminded her that in this day and time there were quite a few men who were merely looking for "a nurse and a purse." She herself was only married once, and brought three children into the world who all turned out fine despite their alcoholic father. Her reflections on her one experience with mar- riage she mostly kept to herself. And by the time I knew her, George, the father of her three kids had been dead quite a while. If asked about him, she would say, "Well, you know I believe you should only say some- thing good about the dead. Well, old George is dead. … Good!" And I'm pretty sure she meant it. For me, I haven't regretted marrying Sharon, and most of the time I don't regret going in the commercial sign business, either. But, at least that second relation- ship, if the truth were really known, has been some- thing of a love-hate relationship for a good long while. Why would I say such a thing? Well, there are a number of reasons actually, and even though you would think after all these years, years that have taught me a whole lot about being a perfect husband (any- one believe that?) I also should have learned how to Rick Williams owns Rick's Sign Company, a commercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and documenting the sign business since 1986. Contact him at RickSignCo@ aol.com.

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