Mattatall Signs, based in Dartmouth, N.S., has manufactured and installed thousands of signs over nearly 40 years. The influence of its founder, president and CEO, Robert E. Mattatall (pictured), on the sign industry has been even more expansive, however, as he has held senior positions with both the Sign Association of Canada (SAC) and the International Sign Association (ISA) and has served on many industry-specific task forces and steering committees.
总部设在美国达特茅斯的Mattatall标识制造商，在40年内，成功的制造并安装了数千个标识项目。而Mattatall标识的创始人Robert E. Mattatall对标识行业有着重要的影响，不仅是因为他曾在加拿大标识协会（SAC）和国际标识协会担任过高级职务，并且在许多行业特定的工作组和指导委员会任职，为标识行业做出了很多贡献。
“I’ve always had a passion for associations and how they can contribute to
an individual’s career and to a company’s overall success,” he says.
Robert E. Mattatall说：“我一直热衷于这个行业，以及我个人为公司的整体成功所做出的贡献。”
An early career change
Mattatall began his career in an apprenticeship to become an electrician. While working for a local hotel, he was asked to assist a representative of Claude Neon with the installation of replacement cold-cathode lighting in a set of large illuminated sign letters.
Robert E. Mattatall在他的早期职业生涯中，最初是在当地的一家酒店做一名电工。在工作期间，他协助Claude Neon完成一系列安装大型照明的工作。
“I found the experience very interesting,” he says. “My dad happened to know the manager of Day Nite Neon Signs and arranged an interview for me. That meeting and my subsequent hiring changed my career path.”
Between 1976 and 1979, he worked for Day Nite and another local company, Young Signs, before deciding to go into business for himself. He opened the doors to Mattatall Signs in February 1979 and immersed himself in every facet of the business.
1976年至1979年期间，Robert E. Mattatall在日夜霓虹灯公司和一家当地的Young Signs公司工作，并学习有关标识制作的技能，而在三年后，他掌握了很多技能，并决定开创自己的事业，于是，在1979年2月，Mattatall标识公司成立，Robert E. Mattatall开始为自己的事业谋发展，沉浸在开创新业务的各个方面。
“Initially, we were a company of just two full-time professionals,” he says, “so all we could do installation. Only later could we expand into thwas focus on smaller hand-painted signs, truck lettering, sign servicing and the occasional e more creative design and fabrication work associated with the illuminated sign market.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“公司成立之初，仅仅只有两名全职专业人士，所以我们能做的只是较小的手绘标识、卡车刻字，以及简单的标识安装。后来，随着公司慢慢的稳定和发展，我们才有了与标识市场相关的的设计和制作工作。”
Seizing opportunities for growth
The early years of the business were during a time of change for the sign industry as a whole. The first vinyl plotters were being brought out by Gerber Scientific Products (GSP) and the extrusion market was just starting to develop.
公司早期开创业务恰逢遇到整个标识行业发生新变化的时候，那时，第一个乙烯基绘图仪由Gerber Scientific Products公司推出，在市场上刮起了一阵春风。
“Although we started out as a small shop doing hand-painted signs, technology provided so many new capabilities for building signs,” says Mattatall. “It was a great time to expand.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“以前，我们只能做一个手工的小标牌，技术的创造与发展为标识的制作提供了许多新功能，我们必须要抓住这个机会，掌握该有的技术，这必然是扩大业务的好时机。”
Indeed, the company doubled in size in its second year and moved to a new location in its third—where it promptly ran out of space again, just two-and-a-half years later.
“We expanded six times and moved to three different sites within our first 15 years,” says Mattatall, “but our growth had to be smart and methodical, as capital was hard to come by at the time. It’s easy to forget now how the chartered banks’ interest rates were almost 20 per cent back then!”
With those issues in mind, even while the company continued to grow organically and through acquisitions, Mattatall strove to keep the number of clients at
a reasonable level. And within the Halifax market, many of these clients were family acquaintances running local businesses, providing an opportunity to establish a high level of trust.
“We could always stand behind the product we built,” says Mattatall.
Robert E. Mattatall说：“我们会让客户相信我们所建立的产品背后有着强大的后盾做为保障。
As an early adopter of computerized signmaking technologies, including a Gerber Sabre router and a 9.1-m (30-ft) Esab router-plotter, the shop took advantage of opportunities to increase the speed of fabrication through mechanization, with its employees trained accordingly.
作为数字化标识技术的早期应用者， Mattatall公司通过应用Gerber Sabre雕刻机和9.1米（30英尺）Esab绘图仪，机械化的提高了制作速度，并且对员工进行了相应的专业技能培训，不仅掌握了先进技术，还要求员工人人都会应用此技术。
“In this industry, you have to train your staff well and invigorate their passion for the work,” says Mattatall. “As so much of what we do is specific to our industry, there is no particular trade school or ready-made labour pool we can look to. Instead, we have had to provide most of the particular training in-house.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“在这个行业，你必须训练好你的员工，激发他们对这项工作的热情。在没有特定学校培训和现成劳动力资源的情况下，我们不得不有效地针对业务模式来提供内部培训。”
An education, by association
Over its first 10 years in business, Mattatall Signs became something of a victim of its own success, with a need for better control over its growth.
“My own focus had been heavily on the trade, but only lightly on administration,” says Mattatall. “I needed to understand more of the facets of running the company. So, I took a series of university and community college business courses, which enabled me to take a more informed approach to our business plans.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“我将工作重点放在了交易上，而不是放在管理上，因为我需要了解公司更多的运营方面，所以，我参加了一系列的大学商业课程，帮助我能够更加胜任各种业务的处理。”
His studies also helped expose him to a vast number of networking opportunities with local business mentors, chambers of commerce and, perhaps most importantly, industry associations, including SAC and the National Electric Sign Association (NESA), the precursors to today’s ISA.
通过商业课程的学习，Robert E. Mattatall提升了自我的经验和技能，以至于后来，他的研究还为当地的商业导师、商会提供了帮助，最重要的是，为SAC和国家电气标识协会（NESA）在内的行业协会揭幕了ISA。
“I spent lots of time at their shows, which helped increase the number of people I could call with my questions,” he explains. “The more you get to know someone, the faster the barriers that exist between you as competitors drop away.”
Robert E. Mattatall解释说：““我花了很多时间来考察市场行情，我发现，你越了解市场趋势，就能越快速的掌握最新的技术，以及业务拓展的方向，此外，你也会很快的发现自己存在的问题，只要你把自己的业务做好做全，竞争对手就会自动被比下去。”
Inspired by this experience, he sought to break down barriers for other sign companies, too, with the goal of opening up the industry.
“There was a clear opportunity for the sign industry to become much more professional,” he says.
Another of his first tasks was to establish a local presence for SAC, which at the time represented a membership of companies almost wholly located in Southern Ontario. Through inquiries with the association, he found its bylaws would permit the establishment of regional chapters.
另一个机会是为SAC在当地开拓新的业务，SAC当时是安大略省南部标识协会的成员，通过与协会沟通，了解他们的需求，Robert E. Mattatall发现，协会的章程允许他们重新建立新的区域标识。
Mattatall served as founding chair of the Atlantic Provinces chapter and held a board seat with SAC from 1990 to 1994. During this stint, he helped develop an ‘umbrella’ organization called the Canadian Sign Council, which combined SAC, the Atlantic Provinces chapter and the previously independent sign associations for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec, creating a truly national organization for the first time. The primary goal was to share information and programming, with senior executives from all of the different regions meeting throughout the year.
接下来，Robert E. Mattatall开始担任大西洋省标识的创始人，从1990年至1994年，他们与SAC举行了多次座谈会。在此期间，他帮助加拿大标识委员会开发了一个名为“伞”的组织，该组织将SAC和独立的哥伦比亚省、艾伯塔省、萨斯喀彻温省、马尼托巴省和魁北克省的独立标识协会融合，创建了一个强大的国家性标识协会，这个协会主要服务于不同地区的高层管理人员，为他们共享信息。
Mattatall was president of the Canadian Sign Cou
ncil from 1992 to 1999 and president of SAC from 1999 to 2003 and from 2006 to 2007. He was also elected to ISA’s board of directors in 2004, where he would ultimately rise to chair in 2016. His involvement with both SAC and ISA helped bring the two organizations closer together.
从1992年至1999年，Robert E. Mattatall一直担任加拿大标识委员会主席，从1999年至2003年，2006年至2007年，又担任了SAC的总裁。2004年，他还被选入ISA董事会，一直到2016年又担任了协会的主席。他的参与，让 SAC和ISA两个组织更紧密地结合在了一起。
“SAC had been a regional association within the ISA framework, but member companies had to pay dues to both organizations,” he explains. “In 2010, ISA restructured its membership much as SAC had done in 2000. Today, all of SAC’s Class 1 members enjoy full status within ISA as part of their dues. And both ISA and SAC create programs that are of benefit to the industry.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“SAC是ISA旗下的一个区域性协会，所有成员不得不向两个组织缴纳会费。在2010年，ISA重组成员，直到今天，SAC的所有1类成员都在ISA内享有完整的身份认证。值得我们关注的是，ISA和SAC共同创造了对标识行业有利的应用程序。
Finding tomorrow’s employees
One such program is Sign Manufacturing Day, a byproduct of ISA’s work with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which had already established National Manufacturing Day in the U.S. The idea is to invite students to tour manufacturing facilities and get them interested in pursuing related careers.
“Lori Anderson and Allison Kent, ISA’s president/CEO and director of workforce development, respectively, brought NAM’s program over to the sign industry,” Mattatall says. “They helped sign companies see the benefit of it and they continue to offer a great deal of assistance to firms that wish to participate.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“ISA的总裁Lori Anderson和首席执行官Allison Kent将NAM建立的制造日引向了标识行业，他们帮助标识制造商看到了这个节日为他们带来的益处，同时，也继续为参与到其中的公司提供大量的协助。”
For the first two years of ISA’s program, 2013 and 2014, Mattatall Signs was the only Canadian company to participate. Since then, however, others have joined in across the country, including Colortec Creative Print Solutions in Burnaby, B.C., Advantage Signs in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Sleek Advertising in Regina, Pride Signs in Cambridge, Ont., Twilight Signs and Neon in Caledon, Ont., Les Enseignes Amtech in Joliette, Que., Enseignes Plus in Châteauguay, Que., and Hansen Signs in Moncton, N.B.
在这个计划的前两年，也就是2013年和2014年，Mattatall 标识制造商是唯一一家参加加拿大标识协会的制造商。从那时起，其他标识制造商也开始纷纷加入，包括本拿比的Colortec广告创意公司、萨斯喀彻温省阿尔塔标识公司，里贾纳的光滑广告公司，安大略省剑桥的骄傲标识公司、专做霓虹灯的 Caledon公司、Les Enseignes Amtech in Joliette公司、Enseignes Plus inChâteauguay公司等。
“It’s a chance to show kids all of the cool tools we get to use,” says Mattatall. “Within the sign industry, everything’s custom-made, not mass-manufactured. We get to pull a lot of very different trades together. In this sense, making a sign is a bit like building a house.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“在标识行业内，一切都是定制，而不是批量生产的。我们可以把很多不同的交易放在一起，也就是说，制作标识就像建造房子，设计很重要，材料很重要，制作过程很重要，安装也相当重要，不仅如此，还得一切为客户着想，完善好服务。”
He hopes the trend that has been started with Sign Manufacturing Day will continue to spread across the industry, as the fostering of tomorrow’s signmakers has become a major challenge.
Robert E. Mattatall希望，标识制造日带来的趋势将继续扩大到整个行业，因为在未来，标识行业将成为一个重要的行业。
“There has been phenomenal growth in education at the annual ISA Expo,” he says. “ISA also has skills assessment and validation badge programs that help give employers confidence in competently trained employees. People today are looking for these smaller snippets of training, not a four-year college degree in signmaking.”
Mattatall Signs, for its part, has long engaged with local high schools and community colleges, offering tours for students throughout the year, not just on
Sign Manufacturing Day.
“New employees could come from anywhere,” says Mattatall.
Robert E. Mattatall说：“我们要确保人力配备的培训和招聘投资。”
To avoid becoming too dependent on the ebbs and tides of the local labour pool, Mattatall Signs focuses on both external and internal training programs.
In particular, cross-training—where production employees are taught how to perform more than one job function—has helped lead to better use of resources and boosted the employees’ enthusiasm and morale, which pays off in terms of retaining them for a longer tenure.
“Our average production or service employee has been in our employ for well over 10 years,” says Matatall.
Focusing on local clients
The company’s client base, too, has remained relatively stable over the long term.
“We’ve been able to retain some of the same customers I started with 38 years ago,” says Mattatall. “Mechanization has helped us meet their needs while they’ve grown from small to much larger organizations themselves.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“我们已经能够保留38年前开发出来的一些客户。设备的先进能帮助我们满足他们的任何需求，并且，也得益于公司本身的日益强大。”
At the same time, the company has set up a special division called Signworld that focuses on smaller, everyday sign jobs, allowing it to cater to new clients that do not yet have large budgets.
“We tend to get attention for the bigger projects we do, but we’re not really a big company by sign industry standards,” says Mattatall, “and while we’ve handled national accounts, most of our focus remains local.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“我们倾向于关注我们所做的大项目，但我们又并不是一个符合行业标准的大公司，虽然我们有做全国的业务，但我们大部分的重点业务仍然是当地的。”
His own role is now primarily as an advisor to the company’s senior executive team with regard to day-to-day operational and management issues. He also administers a few of the firm’s key accounts.
而Robert E. Mattatall自己的角色主要是负责公司高管在日常运营和管理上的顾问，同时管理公司的几个关键账户。
“My term with ISA ends this year and I’m looking forward to being more involved with my business again,” he says. “With my association involvement, it feels like I’ve been spending more time with people from across Canada, the U.S. and Europe than from my own local area, which has been both good and bad. I’m certainly looking forward to less travel!”
His legacy will continue this year as his son-in-law Justin Boudreau, director of finance and administration for Mattatall Signs, takes on the role of SAC president
现在，Robert E. Mattatall的事业将由他的女婿马Justin Boudreau继承，同时担任SAC总裁的角色。
“He and my son Rob—who is one of our account executives and in charge of our membership within the World Sign Associates (WSA)—have been involved in the associations for a while and are well-positioned to bring actionable items back here,” says Mattatall.
Robert E. Mattatall说：“他和我的儿子 Rob都具有世界标识协会（WSA）的会员资格，加入协会有一段时间，我相信他们会能力将新的理念注入其中，为标识行业创造更多有价值的东西。”
Looking to the future
After growing rapidly in its early years, Mattatall Signs relies more today on partnerships with other local firms, rather than seeking to own all of the resources needed to complete its projects.
“Sign companies used to put everything under one roof, but were less profitable as a result,” says Mattatall. “We tried that, too, before realizing it was better to focus on our areas of specialization. We even hung onto our neon department for as long as we could. Now, though, we’ve become more efficient, faster and more profitable. I’ve realized our marketplace does not demand I grow my business much more than where it already is.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“标识公司过去把所有东西都放在一个框架内，造成效益不佳。在我们专注于专业领域之前，应该跳出固有的思维，去做一些新的突破，现在，我们已经变得更加高效，更有价值，我意识到，我们的市场要求我们需要找到新的业务发展空间。“
He credits his active involvement with SAC and ISA, which he says have advocated for partnerships between knowledgeable professionals, for showing him this path to business success.
Robert E. Mattatall表示积极参与SAC和ISA非常有必要，他还主张在知识面渊博的专业人士之间建立伙伴关系，是企业走向成功之路的条件之一。
“The associations introduced us to other companies and helped build our ongoing relationships with them,” he says. “We’ve embraced some opportunities and not others. It’s a question of where can best spend our efforts. It’s certainly a challenge—and it’s why we continue to attend trade shows, read industry publications and work with the associations.”
Another challenge is keeping up with ongoing technological developments.
“There haven’t been as many changes at a grand scale in the last few years,” Mattatall says, “but the definition of a sign is constantly changing and it’s still a very exciting industry to be in.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“过去几年，虽然公司没有大规模的变化，但我们对标识的定义在不断更新换代，这真是一个令人痴迷的行业。”
The growing emphasis on digitization and automation has been a double-edged sword, however, as it has made signmaking easier to accomplish with fewer hands.
“Signmakers have embraced what technology can do for them, but it has also allowed them to become lax at hiring, so now we have a greying workforce,” Mattatall says. “Younger people are much more comfortable with computerization and other technological changes, but they lack the skill sets in terms of craftsmanship.”
Robert E. Mattatall说：“标识制造商已经掌握了很多先进技术，改变了从前的手工制作方式，这让他们在招聘时变得松懈，对专业技能的考察评估降低。年轻人对互联网和其他技术变革能迅速掌握，但他们缺乏创新这些技术的手段。”
“We’ve make a major effort in the past two years to find young, eager employees and train them under the watchful eye of our older staff, to ensure we keep a knowledge base in our facility as time passes,” Mattatall explains. “The young and the old work well together. Mentoring has to take place, so valuable experience can be transferred on to the next generation.”
Robert E. Mattatall解释说：“过去两年来，我们已经做出了重大努力，找到了一批年轻有热血的员工对他们进行专业培训，以确保迅速了解我们的专业知识。新人和老人一起工作配合的非常好，宝贵的经验又可以转移到下一代，相信Mattatall标识会有更不同的完美演绎。”