Reed v. Gilbert Session at APA Convention Attracts 500 People

The following article was written by FASI Board Member Alan Weinstein, who participated in the American Planning Association session.

The American Planning Association (APA) recently announced attendance figures for sessions at its annual National Conference held this past April in Phoenix, Arizona.  The session that focused on the Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling on sign regulations, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, AZ.  organized by ISA’s James Carpentier, ranked #4 in attendance out of 170 sessions, and drew nearly 500 attendees.

James worked with the APA Arizona Chapter Host Committee to have the session proposal submitted on behalf of the Host Committee, which helped to ensure the session would be accepted.  The session, which James moderated, featured four speakers:

  • Mark White Esq., Principal in White & Smith, LLC, a law firm in Lee’s Summit, Missouri;

  • Wendy Moeller, Principal in Compass Point Planning, a planning consulting firm in Blue Ash, Ohio;

  • Professor Alan C. Weinstein, a member of the FASI Board, holds a joint appointment in the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio;

  • and Karen Melby, Senior Planner for the City of Sparks, Nevada.

White led off the session with a review of the factual background of the Reed case and an analysis of the legal rules established by the case. He focused on Justice Thomas’ majority opinion that established that any regulation which, on its face, requires that government consider the content of a sign in order to determine its regulatory treatment, is content-based.

Next, Weinstein, who also serves on the Board of the Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research & Education, discussed how courts have been applying the Reed decision in challenges to sign regulations. Professor Weinstein noted that, after Reed, some courts have struck down, as content-based, regulations that had been found to be content-neutral before Reed.  He also noted that no court had yet applied Reed to regulations of commercial signs and, while most courts had ruled that Reed did not apply to regulations that distinguished between on-site and off-site signs, one federal district court had found such a regulation to be content-based under Reed.

Moeller, who also serves as a Trustee for The Signage Foundation, next discussed how local governments can revise their regulation of temporary, non-commercial signs to come into compliance with Reed. This is precisely the type of sign at issue in Reed, so, unquestionably, the case calls into doubt any content-based regulation of such signs. Moeller’s advice on this issue can be found in a recent APA publication she co-authored with Professor Weinstein: “Practice: Temporary Signs,” in the February 2016 issue of Zoning Practice.

The final speaker, Melby, discussed how the City of Sparks, Nevada, had recently adopted a content-neutral sign code. Her remarks focused not only on what the code contained, but also on the process the city had used to bring stakeholders together to reach consensus on the content-neutral approach.

American Sign Museum Initiates Sign Restoration Compilation

The American Sign Museum (ASM) ( has been compiling information about signage-restoration projects throughout North America for approximately a year. ASM Founder Tod Swormstedt touched on these initial efforts at the National Signage Research & Education Conference held at the University of Oklahoma on October 10-12, 2015. Future possibilities include a group and/or event devoted to sign restoration. Lisa Peterson, the marketing manager at Federal Heath, a 115-year-old sign company headquartered in Oceanside, California, wrote about this on LinkedIn. To read her post, go to 

WRAPS Magazine Reports Increased Sales for Full/Partial Wraps

WRAPS 2016 magazine, in its 2016 State of the Wraps Industry Report, states that 73% of the 140+ respondents to its survey said they experienced “significant increases in sales over last year”, and 60% anticipate wrap sales to increase next year for full and partial wraps. Approximately one-third enjoyed sales increases in excess of 20%. For the full report, go to

Bill Introduced to Curb Federal Prison Industries

(The following was reported by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Assn.)

Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) has introduced H.R. 4671, The Small Business Protection Act. The goal of this legislation is to end UNICOR’s government monopoly and force it to compete with the private sector.

Currently, UNICOR, also known as Federal Prison Industries, automatically gets its choice of federal government contracts through a process known as mandatory sourcing. This provision prevents private sector businesses from even competing for a federal government contract. On top of this, UNICOR also possesses special status to poach contracts specifically reserved for small businesses despite being a massive government-run entity that maintains a “workforce” of over 12,000 prisoners.

“Small business job growth is critical to developing and maintaining a healthy economy,” said Congressman Huizenga. “UNICOR, which is owned and operated by the federal government, actively undermines the free market. The federal government does not belong in the manufacturing or services industries when there are private sector options available and law-abiding citizens are looking for work.”

Specifically, H.R. 4671 does four things:

  • Enhances free market competition by eliminating UNICOR’s mandatory sourcing provision
  • Promotes small business job growth by preventing UNICOR from bidding on small business contracts
  • Protects sensitive and personal information from being handled by criminals
  • Requires a study on the effectiveness of UNICOR’s impact on recidivism

To read the text of the bill, go to .

Several years ago, the International Sign Association successfully worked with a coalition on The Hill and with a small business-friendly Congress/administration that culminated in securing reform language in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 that broke up FPI’s monopoly by allowing the private sector, including the sign industry, to compete for Dept. of Defense contracts if they offered a comparable product, states David Hickey, ISA’s VP of Governmental Relations. The full report of the act spans nearly 700 pages.

In 1998,  Federal Prison Industries could only sell to the federal government. But Congressman Bill McCollum (R-FL) introduced HR 4100 “Free Market Prison Industries Prison Reform Act of 1998,” which would allow FPI to compete in the private sector. Conversely, in 1997, Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) introduced HR 2758 to repeal FPI’s 60-year-old monopoly. A report about this appeared in the March 1999 issue of Signs of the Times magazine.


Dynamic Digital Signage Market Estimated at 68.3 Million Units by 2019

Berg Insight states that, at the end of 2014, approximately 25.4 million connected digital screens were in use worldwide. The research strategy group forecasts this number will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.2% to produce 63.8 million units, an approximately 150% increase, by 2019.

The 50-page study includes five-year forecasts. To read more about this, go to

Magazine Surveys Shows Positive Growth for Sign Industry

The annual State of the Industry Report, with regard to internally illuminated signs (cabinet signs, channel letters, outline lighting, etc.), conducted by Signs of the Times magazine, showed positive results for 2014 and a prediction of continued growth for 2015.

80% of the respondents said their sales volume increased from 2013 to 2014. Less than 7% reported a sales decline.

Respondents said they planned to invest $163,516, on average, for new equipment in 2015, which represents approximately a 50% increase over the $109,516 average for 2014. More than half anticipated buying software, as did a majority that expected to buy a crane.

The average profit margin nearly doubled from 13% in 2013 to 25% in 2014. Respondents predicted an average profit margin of 27.2% for 2015.  

For the full results of the survey, go to

As for the “commercial” portion of the sign industry — non-illuminated signs (banners, vinyl signs, etc.) — respondents reported an average sales-volume growth of 17.2% from 2013 to 2014. The stability of the sign industry is suggested by the average age of these sign companies: 23+ years.

The average profit margin reported increased from 32% in 2013 to 39.7% in 2014.

The average number of employees increased from 8.8 in 2013 to 11.6 in 2014.

The respondents included both independent sign companies and companies that are part of a sign franchise.

For the full report, go to

The magazine also conducted a third separate study that focused specifically on vehicle graphics. More than three quarters of the respondents (77%) reported  sales-volume growth from 2014 to 2015, and more than 30% reported growth in excess of 20%. More than 80% anticipated their sales volume would grow in 2016.

For the full report, go to

For a similar type of report from the International Sign Association, go to 

Black Enterprise Magazine Names DC Fastsigns(R) Franchise of the Year

Black Enterprise magazine named FASTSIGNS® of Washington, D.C., its Franchise Company of the Year at its 2016 Entrepreneurs Summit held in Miami Beach, Florida. The three-year-old award was granted to the sign business owned and operated by Howard James since 2007. His sales rank in the top 15% of the more than 600 FASTSIGNS franchises located in nine countries. For the full story, go to

ISA Sign Expo Attendance is Second Highest Ever

The International Sign Association Sign Expo, held April 21-23, 2016 in Orlando, Florida, attracted more than 20,000 attendees, the association reports, which makes it the second-largest show in ISA history, and the largest ever held in Orlando.

For nearly two decades, the Sign Expo has alternated between Orlando and Las Vegas, and the latter show typically attracts more people. This year’s show included more than 600 exhibitors who filled more than 200,000 square feet of exhibit space.

ISA’s Sign Expo 2017 will be held April 19-22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. The event will co-locate with the Collaboration in Packaging Production (CPP) tradeshow.

To read the full story, go to

Route 66 Neon Project in Tulsa Seeks Donation “Votes”

The Route 66 Development Group (Tulsa, OK) has launched a project to erect a double-faced, 18 x 20-ft. neon sign in Tulsa on Route 66, and it wants people to vote for one of two designs by making a donation at

Each sign uses the famous song lyrics, “Get your kicks on Route 66” and features animated neon. One design features a “kicking” cowboy, and the other showcases a “kicking” horse.

The development group has already installed nine large, framed “Wall Art” prints of classic cars and the “color splash” technique to nostalgic photos along Tulsa’s Route 66.

The Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research and Education Launches


The Academic Advisory Council for Signage Research and Education (AACSRE) has now posted its website, It has announced its 17-member Board of Directors, which includes Chairperson Dawn Jourdan (University of Oklahoma) and Executive Director Patty Herbin.

Full list of Board members here. 

AACSRE will soon be producing an academic publication called the Interdisciplinary Journal of Signage and Wayfinding.

The new AACSRE logo was designed by Cece Wang, a joint Ph.D. student and research assistant at the University of Cincinnati who is working on healthcare service design and system design research.