2012 Nat'l. Sign Company Survey of Operations

Executive Summary

ISA's 2012 Survey of Operations provides a score card that allows national sign companies to see how they compare to their peers. The survey includes operating and financial data for fiscal year 2011, including employment, income sources, productivity, and financial and operating ratios. The Survey of Operations final report contains data that does not exist anywhere else in the sign industry. Items such as average annual sales, distribution of income by type of business, complete income statement and balance sheet ratios benchmarked by company size, and many other operational financial data, were measured with this survey.

This survey is similar to those conducted by ISA between 1995 and 2008. Respondents had the option of answering only a few demographic questions and then submitting financial records to Association Research Inc., who conducted the survey for ISA. But most chose to complete the survey on their own.

The survey was distributed to 37 national sign companies and respondents were grouped into two categories: sales above $30 million and below $30 million. In all, there were few key differences between the two groups.

  • For those in the smaller sales category, manufacturing was the primary business activity. Installation was the primary business for 20 percent of the larger group.
  • Both groups had the largest number of personnel in the manufacturing segment of their businesses, accounting for about 58 percent of the total number of employees. The larger group had a higher concentration of staff in installation, while the smaller group had a higher percentage of employees in administration.
  • Both groups also had approximately the same percentage of income from direct signage sales. The only significant difference was in installation revenue, with the larger group attributing about a fourth of its income to this category.
  • Both categories attributed about 75 percent of sales to the cost of goods sold. The larger category attributed more expenses to sales than the smaller group. The smaller group attributed more costs to administrative, than did the larger group.
  • Both enjoyed roughly the same rate of after-tax profits.