A few years ago, Jeff Fuhrmann noticed
that applicants for skilled jobs at Kieffer
Sign Co. (kieff ersigns.com) were
mostly in their 40s and above.
“My concern was that we needed to start hiring
younger to build the company for the future,”
says Fuhrman. Th at began a quest to fi nd younger
students to “foster, develop and bring them
into the workforce.”
Kieff er, headquartered in Sheboygan, Wisconsin,
joined a local program, Inspire Wisconsin,
designed to connect employers with students for
Th e company also participated in ISA Sign
Manufacturing Day – which brings students
into sign, graphics and visual-communications
companies to showcase more of what we do –
serving as an introduction to opportunities in the
industry. Companies that have participated in
this annual ISA event have developed benefi cial
relationships with local high schools, community
colleges, and technical schools. Th ey’ve even
hired students who have taken part.
And some of those students have become the
best advocates for the careers available in the
industry. Alfonso Guida, hired at Signtech aft er
a Sign Manufacturing Day tour, talks about how
much he loves his career in a video produced by
ISA – check it out at signs.org/careers.
Whenever I ask industry leaders about their
biggest worries, workforce always appears at or
near the top of the list.
We have a couple of perceptions to overcome
as an industry: the idea that manufacturing jobs
are dirty, and that manufacturing is a dying profession.
Th e latter is slowly changing and there
is much talk about bringing manufacturing jobs
back to America. But in our industry, they never
really left . Signs simply can’t be shipped in from
overseas – at least not in a complete form. Th at
makes our industry largely off -shore proof.
As to the fi rst point, that manufacturing is
dirty? Well, anyone who has been in a sign manufacturer
in recent years knows how far that is
from the truth. Today’s manufacturing facilities
are extremely clean and fi lled with technology.
Th ere is only one way to overcome this misconception:
by inviting more people in. Sign Manufacturing
Day, held annually the fi rst Friday in
October, is a great time to do that.
Whether the need is to bring in entry-level
workers or help existing employees grow, ISA has
gathered many solutions in one location: the ISA
Career Center (signs.org/careers). Th e Career Center
includes a job board, where companies can post
openings or look through resumes of those looking
for work. It also includes an array of materials that
companies can use to help get the word out about
the careers available in our industry.
It also includes information about relationships
that ISA has built with pipelines to future
workers. Hiring our Heroes, a program of the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, helps former military
personnel connect with job openings.
Th e ISA Digital Badge helps students and
entry-level workers demonstrate knowledge in
15 skills needed in today’s sign, graphics, and
visual-communications industry. Students can
take these tests to show employers they stand
out above typical entry-level candidates. Existing
workers can use this to show they are ready for a
promotion or added responsibilities. Entry-level
workers are needed. Employees who are ready to
move up are needed as well.
Newcomers are welcome
All indications point to an industry poised for
continued growth. Th at growth will need to be
supported by newcomers to the industry. It will
take aggressive hiring programs to show just
how great these jobs are. I hope you’ll join me in
sharing how great our industry is to prospective
employees. You can do this by participating in
ISA Sign Manufacturing Day or by using the
resources we’ve developed to help share the
exciting work that we do (fi nd these resources at
By Lori Anderson
President & CEO
of the International
Lori Anderson is president & CEO for
the International Sign Association
(ISA), which serves the international
on-premise signage and visual
communications industry. ISA’s
programs include educational
conferences, government relations,
technology research, and the
International Sign Exposition.
Find this article at
26 Wide-Format & Signage June 2017 PrintingNewscom