Mark Stein, second-generation owner and president of ESCO Manufacturing and Stein Sign Display in Watertown, South Dakota, served on his community's ad hoc sign committee and volunteers on his community's planning commission and board of adjustments. His active involvement with and passion to help ensure reasonable sign regulations, earned him the 2019 ISA Sign Code Champion award, presented during ISA International Sign Expo® 2019.
As the community of Watertown, South Dakota, began to explore changes to its sign code, Stein stepped up to help, playing a valuable role in explaining the benefits of signs. The end result: a reasonable sign code that balanced community aesthetics with business interests.
Serving on the ad hoc committee involved a lot of meetings and sharing research—some from ISA and some from the Sign Research Foundation—that helped shed light on the importance of signs. That research also helped the committee understand more about the 2015 Supreme Court ruling, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, which ensured that the code would be legally enforceable.
"ISA and the Sign Research Foundation provide tools to help sign companies work closely with their communities. But so often, the success comes from those on the ground, willing to invest the time and expertise in helping at a local level," said David Hickey, ISA's vice president of advocacy. "Mark has invested countless hours in helping his community in a way in which everyone wins."
Working with the sign committee—as well as continuing to volunteer with the planning commission and board of adjustments—is an important way of giving back. He managed to navigate his business interests—and protect his employees' jobs—while focusing on creating the kind of community he wanted to live in.
"I'm a concerned citizen who happens to wear a 'sign guy' hat," he said. "I volunteer because I care about my community and want to have an impact on the long-term managed growth of our local town."
Stein was presented the award during the ISA 75th Anniversary Celebration at ISA Rocks! During ISA International Sign Expo 2019 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.