Inside Political Signs: The Manufacturing of Politics
By Chris Earl, Reporter
DAVENPORT, Iowa - In a state with relatively low unemployment, the presidential campaigns have spent their Iowa visits focused on plans for better-paying jobs and not simply more jobs.
Manufacturing in Iowa has been a major target, especially from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on their visits to Cedar Rapids and Davenport in January and March, respectively.
Yet instead of the politics of manufacturing, a Davenport company is in the midst of an intense surge until Election Day.
Call it the manufacturing of politics.
"Around six million this year," VictoryStore.com CEO Steve Grubbs said on the production floor when asked how many political signs his company of 80 workers would create and ship out. "That's a reasonable goal."
We all see the signs at political rallies, campaign offices, front yards, the sides of barns and many other spots. Grubbs said his company started in 1997 as an Internet company, where people could place printing orders.
In 2012, the logistics may be ideal for VictoryStore. The "bricks and mortar" building was inexpensive as the company is headquartered out of a shuttered elementary school in Davenport. Situated just off an Interstate 280 exit, the building is just miles from the Quad City International Airport.
"What the Internet did was it allowed us to take what would have previously been a small, local printer and make it a nationwide printer," said Grubbs. "Because of our lost cost of business and how close we are to an airport, it makes it very advantageous to us."
Advantegous enough where Grubbs said the company will "ship out 500 orders" each day to customers across the country. Of the political races that make up 60% of Victory Store's business, signs for sheriff and city council contests fill the multiple buildings.
For full disclosure, Grubbs does operate what he calls a seperate company that consults with a current Republican congressional candidate. Yet the buildings are full of signs for all major political party candidates, ready to ship out to all reaches of the country.
Even as he tries to move his business into non-political areans, Grubbs knows the political pull remains strong.
"The next round of elections will start three months after this election is over," Grubbs said. "Elections don't stop in the United States so, somewhere, there is an election."
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