Scott Franko: Enlisting Reps to Help Build Impressions

With some projects, you'll likely spend way too much of your time, energy and resources researching something that other experts can do easily on your behalf and make your life much more pleasant.

The experts I am referring to are independent manufacturers’ rep agencies. The ones you would be interested in are the ones that focuses on the sign and graphics industry, like Yorston Associates, based in Pennsylvania but doing work around the country with local sign companies. 

When it comes to building impressions, you’ve got to be able to develop and provide a visual that portrays the brand powerfully but is also produced with the right components that keep it looking good and functioning well for the duration it is meant to last. The more complicated or sophisticated the job, the more difficult it is to know what and how to utilize the best components for the job. That’s where the rep comes in with their lines of products, materials and services.

The rep’s job is to listen and understand the goals of a project and then recommend or provide the right solutions with the backing and support of the lines they represent. You gain their expertise as well as the knowledge of the manufacturer.

If the idea of working with a rep is new to you, consider gaining a little insight into the rep world by visiting the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA) online at There you’ll learn more and begin to become more comfortable with the concept.

MANA is a not-for-profit trade association for independent reps located in Morton Grove, Illinois. Charles Cohon is the organization’s CEO and president. He was a guest presenter at the 2015 ISA Sign Expo where he shared his expertise on why and how reps and manufactures can and should work together successfully in the sign industry. Yorston Associates is one of the rep agencies that he points to as an example of how sign companies, manufacturers and reps can work together successfully.

Yorston and Associates has been in business for more than 30 years, established to provide industry and project solutions that range from logistics to specific components like extrusions, flex face, lighting and more.

I asked the owners, Bill and Adam Yorston, how they help sign companies build impressions. Here are their answers:

  • “We spend all of our time in the sign industry. We have deep knowledge and strong relationships with our distributor partners and our sign company customers that we work with. We have developed a synergistic line of product offerings from a variety of quality manufacturers and we have the ability to align these manufactures as well their top tier brands.”
  • “With signage people often think only about the finished sign. We think aluminum, lighting, adhesive, paint, extrusion, and type of face material (flexible or rigid). In other words, we break a project down into its components and put together the right mix of ingredients to achieve the best outcome. As a manufactures rep for the sign industry, we work to perfect the mix of items to offer sign companies and their projects.”
  • “We attend regional trade shows, conduct trainings and provide updates to regional distribution, we perform ‘Lunch and Learns’ at large fabrication facilities, we help to increase brand awareness, gather market intelligence, provide manufactures the leverage it takes to reduce barriers of entry to market, we sell by working with distribution, we sit on several trade association boards and we provide marketing support for those we represent. We will even travel with distributors and sales people.”
  • “We do all this as ‘partners in profit’—meaning that ultimately our success is measured by the success of our manufactures and those we serve by help with brand solutions. We help build those impressions you talk about.”

Scott Franko is a brand image expert and regular contributor to Sign & Digital Graphics. Contact him at