Sign Builder Illustrated recently spoke with Brandon Hensley, COO of ISA and executive director of the National Association of Sign Supply Distributors (NASSD), about the evolving role of the supplier/distributor in today’s sign industry.
He states shops should be looking for a partner above all else. “Like a partner, a distributor performs various roles in the business,” says Hensley. “They invest in the business by supplying working capital in the form of credit. They advocate for the sign shop with the manufacturers for lower prices/warranty returns and credits, custom components, quick turnaround, and improved availability.
“A good distributor is constantly doing research on products, technology, and tools and then providing the information to the shop in an effort to reduce labor for the owners and to keep them educated on trends in the industry.”
Education is one of the biggest ways suppliers/distributors have been stepping up their service to the industry, and rightfully so, as they are the main points of contact on a myriad of products for sign shops.
“What we have realized is that our supplier and distributor community fields a lot of questions and pain points,” says Hensley. “ISA has, over the past twelve months, started working with our supplier and distributor community to help provide a single location for real life problems to be answered—mainly with videos.” (Note: Visit http://bit.ly/ST78yE to view the instructional videos.)
In addition to partnering on education, ISA also works closely with suppliers/distributors through NASSD, a non-profit trade association that serves as a platform for suppliers/distributors to work together to benefit the industry. Its mission includes:
+ Educating and informing its membership on issues of importance to both the industry and wholesale distribution;
+ Providing a forum for interaction and education between and among sign supply distributors and sign product manufacturers; and,
+ Increasing the level of communication and professionalism of its members and the industry.
NASSD holds two events—the Annual Meeting and Executive Summit in November and the Management Conference, held this past June in Nashville.
The three-day conference drew together national sign company executives and suppliers/distributors for networking, discussions, and Power Hour one-on-one sessions.
Speakers included Dennis Snow, a former Disney executive and customer service expert; Shira Harrington, an expert on the millennial workforce; futurist Michael Rogers; and Vince Papale, who made the Philadelphia Eagles team at age thirty. Visit www.signs.org/sdc to learn more about the 2015 event.
In light of the importance of suppliers/distributors, we’ve put together a directory of them. The listings are in alphabetical order and represent companies from all over the country with products and materials available for every vertical market. Click here to view this handy resource.
By Ashley Bray