Topeka Kansas Logos Inc. provides businesses a spot on the blue directional signs that line the state's highways.
Deborah Cross may advertise for more restaurants, gas stations and hotels than anyone in Kansas.
Cross, general manager of Kansas Logos Inc., is responsible for 766 of the big, blue highway signs that direct motorists to restaurants, motels and gas stations across the state.
And, the Topeka-based firm says, the signs work.
"On average, companies see an increase of 15 percent in business with the logo signs," Cross said. The reason: Tens of thousands of motorists see the signs every day.
Kansas Logos contracts with the Kansas Department of Transportation to work with businesses that want to advertise. The Topeka firm also arranges for the manufacture and installation of the signs.
The company is responsible for the signs on these Interstates: 35, 70, 135, 235, 435, 470 and 635; plus the signs on Kansas highways 10 and 96 and U.S. highways 54 and 69.
The company does not handle signs for the Kansas Turnpike, which only offers logo signs for lodging businesses.
Kansas Logos has signs at various exits in four categories: food, gasoline, lodging and camping.
"Our most popular is food, by far," Cross said.
The logo signs started popping up throughout the country in the late 1980s. They arrived as federal, state and local governments began putting restrictions and moratoriums on highway billboards.
But Cross said the logo signs and billboards work hand-in-hand in Kansas.
"People might see a billboard five miles before their exit, but they're not going to remember which exit it is," she said. "But when they see the logo sign, they'll know."
And in areas where new billboards aren't allowed, such as on K-10, the logo signs are a lifesaver for some businesses.
"I'd love to have billboards out there, but since I can't, this is a lifeline for us," said Steve Walter, owner of Dairy Queen in Eudora.
"Some businesses, like McDonald's in DeSoto, people can see from the road," he said. "But you can't see us from the road, so without it, I'd have nothing."
At $1,150 per year, a spot on a logo sign is also cheaper than billboards, he added.
Businesses that want to be on the signs must sign three-year contracts. There are restrictions, however, for businesses advertising on the logo signs:
- Restaurants must be open at least 12 hours a day, six days a week.
- Gas stations must be open at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Lodging and camping businesses must be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Currently, Kansas Logos has contracts with 698 businesses, for a total of 1,347 logos.
Cross uses KDOT traffic-count maps as a marketing tool in promoting the signs. "Once people see how much traffic is on these roads, they realize the potential," she said.
Dairy Queen's Walter agreed.
"We feel it was critical for us," he said. "We've got 20,000 cars on that (K-10) highway a day, and if you don't get some of them, you're missing the boat."
-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.