July '21

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 J U L Y G R A P H I C S P R O 1 1 personal work ethic for doing something I didn't enjoy was far from developed. T ha n k f u l ly, in t i me, t hat wou ld change, and change dramatically … maybe too dramatically. But, in the ear- ly years of my life, change was desper- ately needed, and a true work ethic had to emerge. It did, but not because I just miraculously matured into a hard-work- ing and highly responsible adult. No, my work ethic was whipped into place partly because I had good examples, but mostly because I simply had no choice. There was no one who was going to do the hard work for me. Good. As any of my regular Trenches readers know, the work I eventually found to do was sign work, and that unintentionally changed my life forever. After two years of college, at the age of 20, I told my fu- ture father-in-law that I intended to make a living making signs, and he said that was fine because he knew when I ran out of signs to do, I would find something else. In reality, I've found enough sign and graphics work to do that through decades of good times and bad, our little sign shop has kept any crew I had at the time as busy as they wanted to be, and me a lot busier than that. And right now, about the time I wanted to slow down, work has been pelt- ing me like a Panhandle hailstorm, with no end in sight. This once lazy guy has needed all the work ethic that he could muster, as the trade I'm in is short-handed right now. But so is every trade I know of. From plumb- ers to mechanics to cabinet makers, all are trying to find young, talented hard work- ers to fill in the ranks, and all are com- ing up short. The business owners and managers I know, and I know more than a few, are all pulling their hair out … if they have any hair left. Now, my kids are all hard workers, but fully involved in other businesses, so not all young folks are slacking by any means. But it sure seems like there are plenty of good-paying skilled careers out there that can't find enough takers anymore. Once lazy, for many years my matured attitude is one of great respect for any type of work. It is all important. A large airport cannot run without air traffic controllers or custodians. And one is no more impor- tant than the other. Not to mention con- crete pourers, A/C technicians, network managers, and many more essential and valuable laborers and craftsmen. But why should I complain about need- ing help, when it only takes five to 15 years to train a really skilled sign and graphics person? Oh, that's right, I'm too old for that process. But I hope the other sign makers out there who have more time, as well as all my business owner friends in other trades, can and will find their young protégés as they certainly need to do. But I am not totally optimistic about that, as one key ingredient in this whole equation, and the one that seems to be missing, is that one little item that put my lazy rear in gear, and it is that "just have no choice because no one's going to do the hard work for me" part. That we need back desperately. If not, it's about to get awfully lonely for all of us here In the Trenches, no matter what type of trenches they are. Have a great month. RICK WILLIAMS owns Rick's Sign Company, a com- mercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and has been a contributing editor to Sign Business and Sign & Digital Graphics since 1986. Contact Rick via email at To view the full class schedule, visit: MEADOWLANDS, NJ July 15-16, 2021 (Classes start July 14) Attend a class to learn new skills, inspire ideas, and propel your business to the next level! Learn from these industry experts at the expo: pms 285 Black white

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