On the Explains Lounge at Sign and Digital, Sam Armstrong handed over the role of President of ISA UK to David Allen. We caught up with David to find out more about him, Allen Signs, his new role at the ISA and his aims and ambitions for the association.
“My parents set up Allen Signs way back in the 60s. My dad was a coach painter and signwriter in 1965 and had worked in various paint shops in the Lincoln area for several years previously. The business and its reputation grew steadily through word of mouth and repeat business and by the early 80s, we stopped commercial vehicle painting to focus on signage and vehicle livery.
“We acquired a Gerber Graphix 3 around 84, and I joined the company on a Youth Training Scheme in 1984. Initially, my job was to use the Gerber to prepare cut lettering and applying it to vehicles and signage. I also used the company’s Pantograph machines for engraving and cutting acrylic lettering. I took over from my dad as MD in 2004, and the business has continued to grow steadily ever since.
Starting the ISA Journey
“Reg Green, who ran Greens of Hull, approached my dad in the early 70s and suggested that the company should be members of what was then the Master Signmakers Association. Like now, we couldn’t just join we had to commit to working to a standard, but dad was a big believer in high standards – ‘good enough was never enough’. Being seen to be a member of the trade body was a way to demonstrate this to the outside world.”
What does the role of President entail?
“The role of President of the ISA UK is to be a point of contact for the industry and our many outside stakeholders. Because I have the direct experience of running a smallish sign company means I can relate well to others in the trade. Working alongside the association’s CEO, Craig Brown, we will work hard to ensure the association stays relevant and important and help to set the direction of travel for the industry.”
Craig Brown says, “David brings with him a desire to make sure we [the ISA-UK] stay relevant to the signmaker, and his desire to make our services accessible to those that need the support is clear from the get-go of his Presidency. I look forward to working with him to make that vision a reality.”
David takes over from Sam Armstrong from the Make it Happen Signage Consultancy. “Sam has done more than anyone in her two years as president to raise the profile of the association and our trade in general. I know the board would join me in thanking her for her work in what has been some extraordinary times through the Covid 19 pandemic. I will certainly be calling on her experience and guidance in the years ahead.”
How do you feel about taking over as president?
“It’s quite something to think that I’ve taken this role and am following in the footsteps of some giants of the industry. I’m very aware of the responsibility I owe to those who went before over the last 100 years or more. They had the foresight to set something up that provided a point of reference for what is still a relatively small industry in comparison to some and to work towards better standards and practices for the benefit of all.
What would you like to achieve during your time as president?
“I’d like to see our “badge” recognised as a mark of professional trade and that by using a member company a purchaser can be assured they are selecting a well-trained, responsible well managed company. I’d like to prove that membership is for all companies in our sector, large and small.”
What is the message you would like to send to members and the wider sign-making community about the ISA and what you can do for them and the industry?
“I say get on board! By working together, we can share and develop good practices amongst members. Help demonstrate to purchasers the value of well-designed and expertly-made signage and graphics. I also want to encourage suppliers to the sign trade to join us. We need you with us to push standards even higher, deliver great products and help us to continue to promote training and knowledge in the trade.”