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South Outdoor receives Five Star Award honors

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by Christen Jackson

SBJ Contributing Writer

Whether driving the car or just going along for the ride, South Outdoor Advertising is making southwest Missouri motorists look.

"Made Ya Look" is South Outdoor's slogan, and the company fulfills that mission by being a full-service outdoor advertising business providing poster billboards, painted bulletins, vinyl boards, commercial painting, vehicle lettering and banners.

As the result of new technology, during the past year South Outdoor added electronic tri-vision boards, and changeable-marquee painted bulletins.

"These days advertisers need to reach people inside and outside of their homes," said J. Billy Uthmeier, owner-president of South Outdoor Advertising. "It's a known fact that people are spending more time out of the home, which makes outdoor advertising increasingly important."

South Outdoor currently operates within 10 counties in southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas, Uthmeier said. The firm's coverage area includes Jasper, Newton, Vernon, McDonald and Barton counties in Missouri; and Cherokee, Labette, Crawford, Neosho, Bourbon and Allen counties in Kansas.

South offers several types of billboard structures with faces ranging from 8-by-12 feet to 14-by-48 feet. Height ranges from 8 feet to 12 feet.

"We try and offer our clients a lot of variety and flexibility," Uthmeier said.

Billboards can be leased for periods ranging from one week to two years.

"We have a wide-ranging client base," said Christina Hardy, general manager of South Outdoor.

Those clients include national advertisers, large hospitals, local restaurants, doctors, television stations, radio stations, colleges, lawyers, financial institutions, car dealers and body shops.

"Billboards have a long history and were among the first forms of advertising," Hardy said. "A lot of this type of advertising is subliminal. It's constantly out there you can't turn it off or throw it away."

South Outdoor even promotes its own business through outdoor advertising. It's "Made Ya Look" slogan adorns billboards throughout southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas. Field workers who put up the billboards all wear the slogan on the backs of their shirts and jackets.

"A business has a difficult decision to make where advertising is concerned, because there are so many options out there," Uthmeier said. "I think that the majority of businesses need some kind of mix including outdoor advertising, print, radio and television. These days, advertisers need to reach people inside and outside of their homes."

Since 1985, South Outdoor has grown from 150 billboards to more than 500. During the same period, sales increased more than 400 percent, Uthmeier said.

Uthmeier credits his sales staff with much of that success. In addition to Hardy and Uthmeier, who both handle clients, there are two full-time sales representatives. All four have been with South Outdoor for between five and 10 years.

"That's something I'm proud of," he said. "I believe that continuity has been key to our success over the years."

Attention to detail is another reason South Outdoor Advertising has been successful, Uthmeier said. The company strives to produce billboards which are attractive and an asset to the community.

"We work very hard to provide a quality service," he said. "The key is to stay on top of everything. We put a lot of emphasis on maintenance."

For example, staff members regularly drive through the area at night to make sure that lights are working on all of the billboards. A light that is burned out is noted and replaced immediately, Hardy said.

"We owe it to our clients to do the best that we can," Uthmeier said. "It's the little things that make the difference."

The company's high standards have begun to pay off with a growing client list, and with a national award, as well.

South Outdoor recently won the Outdoor Advertising Association of America's annual Five Star Award, which recognizes high standards of quality, excellence and service. "We are extremely honored to be the only Missouri company recognized for this award," Hardy said.

South was one of 32 companies nationwide to be recognized.

The Five Star Award is presented every two years to member companies that meet 13 performance criteria, including community and charitable involvement, maintenance requirements, product technology and legislative involvement.

"It's great to receive an award for hard work and high standards, but we believe in the qualifications the award stands for, and we would do them anyway," Uthmeier said. "We want to offer our customers, and our communities, a quality product."

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The Five Star Award is a national honor.[[In-content Ad]]

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