North Carolina State Representative Kevin Crutchfield.
There is a compelling reason for the sign and graphics industry to pay close attention to the North Carolina state legislature, with particular emphasis on Representative Kevin Crutchfield, who assumed office in early 2023, representing the 83rd district. What makes this matter of significance?
Many may recognize Representative Crutchfield as Kevin, the proprietor of Casco Signs Inc., located near Charlotte, and his prior role as the president of the Southern States Sign Association (SSSA). His extensive knowledge of the sign industry and small businesses, in general, has already translated into the drafting and introduction of several bills that address sign-specific concerns.
One of these bills, currently progressing through committees (HB 132), necessitates permits to be delivered via mail or email, eliminating the requirement for them to be picked up in person. This not only affects sign permits but also extends its impact to other businesses, such as restaurants, which will no longer have to make the trip to Raleigh to obtain their liquor license.
Another noteworthy bill (HB 771), introduced by Rep. Crutchfield, mandates that local jurisdictions in North Carolina compensate businesses whose non-conforming signs must be brought into compliance.
Shortly following his election, Representative Crutchfield collaborated with another legislator to establish the Small Business Caucus, focused on addressing issues that directly affect the country’s job creators. While some of his legislative colleagues may grasp the challenges faced by small businesses, Crutchfield maintains that few understand these issues at the level that he does.
In summary, Representative Crutchfield’s dual role as a legislator and an experienced figure in the sign industry places him in a unique position to advocate for changes that directly impact this sector and small businesses in North Carolina. His proactive approach to addressing these issues highlights the importance of his representation and engagement in the state legislature.
Representative Crutchfield is also a sign shop owner.
It was his profound understanding and a compelling desire for change that motivated Rep. Crutchfield to embark on his journey into public office.
For several years, Rep. Crutchfield had actively participated in the county Republican party. He recalls a shift in perspective, noting, “Instead of remaining on the sidelines and merely voicing complaints, I aspired to become an agent of change from within the system.”
When redistricting occurred, his local party approached him with the proposition to consider serving as a representative.
Notably, Rep. Crutchfield enjoyed the advantageous position of being able to delegate most of the day-to-day operations of Casco Signs to his family. His three sons manage the business’s daily affairs, while his wife takes charge of the office. This arrangement allows him to dedicate himself to his role as a legislator, even though it’s technically considered part-time.
He shared insights into his routine, saying, “I occasionally visit Casco on Fridays to handle some accounting tasks. If everything looks in order, I return to Raleigh.”
During his time at the state capitol, he leverages his profound knowledge of the sign and graphics industry, coupled with his understanding of the vital role of association involvement in the legislative process.
Drawing from his experience as the president of SSSA, he highlighted an instance where the South Carolina legislature proposed a requirement for sign contractors to obtain licenses in concrete and structural steel. In collaboration with the International Sign Association (ISA) and SSSA, they effectively demonstrated to legislators the impracticality of the bill and managed to secure favorable amendments.
Rep. Crutchfield emphasized the persuasive influence of associations like ISA and its affiliates, citing, “These organizations can educate and mobilize their members, and this carries significant weight with legislators. Whenever I can align with their recommendations and support their initiatives, it facilitates the committee process.”
Additionally, he pointed out the value of gaining a perspective he may not personally possess. For instance, he mentioned an instance where a local district attorney identified the need for minor adjustments in a particular bill. Rep. Crutchfield acknowledged the importance of collaborating with experts in their respective domains, stating, “I don’t operate in your specialized field every day. I rely on experts like you to address these policy matters. This same principle applies to the realm of signage, where I can draw upon this collective knowledge to craft more effective legislation.”
Representative Crutchfield next to a NASCAR sign in Concord, NC.
Furthermore, Rep. Crutchfield recognizes that an issue affecting his sign company likely has implications for others as well. He stated, “If we can collaboratively devise solutions that span various sectors, it ultimately benefits all of us.”
Despite the North Carolina GOP holding a super-majority in the legislature, Rep. Crutchfield underscores the importance of bipartisan cooperation. In his capacity as the freshmen leader of the Republican caucus, he has taken initiatives to foster relationships with members from across the aisle, emphasizing, “Establishing these relationships is valuable. Having allies can facilitate the policymaking process.”
Having a legislator who possesses in-depth knowledge of the sign industry is undoubtedly advantageous. However, it is imperative for all stakeholders to actively engage by working alongside political leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to convey their concerns and collaborate on policy solutions that yield benefits for businesses and communities.
The International Sign Association is readily available to provide resources and expertise to work with political leaders. Feel free to reach out to me to explore how ISA can assist your community or state in addressing these critical issues.
David Hickey, as the vice president of Government Affairs at the International Sign Association, is dedicated to supporting and advocating for the sign industry’s interests.