August '22

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1 0 G R A P H I C S P R O A U G U S T 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M SIGNING OFF IN THE TRENCHES R I C K W I L L I A M S T his publication has certainly evolved over the years. "GR APHICS PRO" is the current configuration, but that was not where it all started. It started out as "Sign Business Magazine", the brainchild of NBM Inc. owner Bob Wieber. Bob and I go way back, more years that we might want to consider, and I was given the opportunity to be involved from the very beginning. e beginning, at least officially, was back in October 1986. Sign Business Magazine first appeared as a color tabloid, not a glossy maga- zine. And in that initial issue was the first "In the Trenches" column, and even a "Shop Talk" column or two. "Writer? Me?" at should have been my take on things. I was simply running a small commer- cial sign shop down in Longview, Texas, which did not make me an expert on anything. But, it was possible for me to write about the day- to-day struggles of a small scale sign business, and share insights and some- times hard-learned lessons with my readers. That was 36 years and over 400 "Trenches" arti- cles a go. Work ing way more than full-time, and then writing articles every month meant a lot of my writing was done when I should have been sleeping. How much better a writer I might have been if I had done the work during my waking hours! But, though it was a big commitment, the work was also fun. Getting to share so much of my life and career with the readers over the years, getting feedback from many of them, and making friends like Dan from Wisconsin, who still sends me cheese from his great state at Christmas. Within two or three years, NBM Inc. moved into the trade show business, and it was determined that I should be an instructor in the education program at the shows. Oh boy, now that was a stretch! I recall the first class I ever taught, given to a packed room in Atlantic City, and attended by some of the best sign guys in the business. My knees were shaking so hard it was a wonder I could stand, and a few filmed with video cameras to add to the pres- sure. I survived this stressful initia- tion somehow, then went on to teach for about 20 years. I even learned to enjoy it. I enjoyed meet i ng fol k s l i ke Maryellen, who had a very small sign shop in the farm country of central Ohio. She was a student in an all- day workshop, and by the end of the day had adopted my 12-year-old son, Sloan, and took him home with her for the next few days. We became good friends and have stayed in touch with the whole family over the years. e trade shows give everyone even more opportunities to network and share information, view new equip- ment and technolog y, and get to know fellow signmakers from all over the country. Also, at least for me, becoming at home in cities like Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Long Beach has been a bonus, too. ough I've certainly been an attendee, I haven't taught at the trade shows for a few years, but have continued to contribute articles monthly. But, after way more than three decades, I think the time has come to step down from this podium and let others, younger and more quali- fied than I am, step into my shoes. I would like to thank Bob, Matt, Regan, and the NBM Inc., staff for giving me all the opportunities they have, and especially thank my readers, students and friends who have been so encouraging to me over the years. At least for now, I will sign off from here in the Trenches. I hope you have a good month and a really great year.

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