As he prepares to retire, a highly respected sign industry stalwart has issued a rallying call to colleagues within the sector. Mike Hall, chair of the ISA-UK technical committee and member of the ISA-UK council, formally retires from his position at the end of December 2019 but is urging more sign professionals to get involved with the sign industry’s leading trade association.
“In many ways, I’m sad to be stepping down because this is such an exciting time for the sign and graphics industry,” explains Mike. “Since partnering with the International Sign Association to become ISA-UK, the British Sign & Graphics Association has gained a new lease of life and the relationship has the potential to make our Association more powerful and productive than ever before.”
Mike, who is 66 years old, graduated from university with a degree in chemistry and worked as an industrial chemist for the first few years of his working life. He joined PJ Mason in 1984 after seeing an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph for a physicist.
“PJ Mason, which later became MasonLite, manufactured raw materials for neon signs and cold cathode lighting and, because of the technical nature of the industry, was looking for a scientist rather than an engineer,” explains Mike. “The company decided that my chemistry background would fit the bill and I ended up staying with them until 2006, helping to develop neon technology and travelling all over the world to meet with professional colleagues.”
Mike launched his own business in 2006, providing consultancy services to the neon sector and, more recently, to the general sign industry. “Travelling to countries such as China has been a real privilege and very educational,” says Mike. “The Chinese scientists and engineers I worked with have a genuine excitement for the work they do and the technology they are developing, which is extremely refreshing. “
Mike first became involved with the British Sign & Graphics Association (now ISA-UK) in the early 1990s, with his technical skills and experience making him a huge asset to the technical committee and wider council. Mike also represents ISA-UK on a technical level in the European Sign Federation (ESF) council and its relevant standards committees.
“The British Sign & Graphics Association has always supported and challenged the UK sign and graphics industry,” says Mike. “But over the past year, under its new name of ISA-UK and with renewed vigour, I’ve seen the Association become braver and more ambitious.”
“Everything the organisation does is about reinforcing the need for quality, professionalism and standards within our sector and helping members to be the best they can be. We are currently working on a new British Standard (BS559) for the manufacture of signage as well as working closely with the European Sign Federation on European Standards.”
“Sadly, there are still too many people working within our industry who are quick to criticise but slow to get involved and influence real change,” continues Mike. “Whilst we’re definitely moving forward and setting higher benchmarks, the sign-making industry still needs pulling up by its bootstraps in order to really excel, raise standards and become a truly authoritative and trusted voice.”
“I would urge all sign companies and suppliers to find out more about ISA-UK and how they can engage, share their expertise and have a say in the future of the sign and graphics industry,” Mike concludes.