Thursday, May 28, 2020

Chicago Bears Sign Veteran Tight End Jimmy Graham

Since launching Elmhurst, IL-based MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in 2002, Mike Loftus has grown the brand services company to achieve annual revenue exceeding $40 million. Outside of his work at MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions, Mike Loftus enjoys following his favorite National Football League (NFL) team, the Chicago Bears.

The Bears top tight end receiver in terms of production in 2019 was Jesper Horsted, who finished 53rd league wide with 14.5 yards per game. Moreover, its leading receiver at the position in terms of total yards, J.P. Holtz, ranked 69th league wide with only 91 receiving yards. In an attempt to address its lack of production from the position, the Bears signed veteran tight end Jimmy Graham to a two-year, $16 million contract on March 16.

In 2019, Graham had the least productive year of his career except for his rookie season in 2010 but still ranked 18th among NFL tight ends with 447 receiving yards. Chicago's six tight ends only combined for 416 receiving yards in 2019.

A five-time Pro Bowl tight end, Graham was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The 10-year veteran registered a career-best mark in yards in 2011 (1,310) and posted a career-high in touchdowns in 2013 (16). Through 153 regular-season games, he has 7,883 receiving yards and 74 touchdowns.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Responsibilities of a Cub Scout Den Leader

Mike Loftus is the president of MLE Merchandising and Sign Solutions, a provider of turnkey solutions for large-scale renovation, installation, and signage projects. Beyond his work for MLE in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Mike Loftus serves as a Cub Scout den leader. 

Cub Scout leaders work directly with scouts, their parents, and other den leaders and pack leaders to carry out scouting activities and ensure the success of their dens. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) defines a den as a group of six to eight boys of similar grade level who meet multiple times a month between larger division meetings, called pack meetings. 

A den leader’s responsibilities include planning and conducting meetings, attending pack meetings, and leading their dens during monthly pack activities. Leaders also help scouts with the transition to a den of the next rank at the end of each year.

To become a Cub Scout den leader, applicants must be at least 21 years old and receive a recommendation from the Cubmaster after meeting with the parents of scouts in a den. Potential leaders must register with the BSA and obtain approval from the local pack committee and chartered organization.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Nico Hoerner Highlights Cubs 2018 MLB Draft Class

Mike Loftus is an entrepreneur who founded Elk Grove Village, Illinois' MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in 2002 and has since led the company past the $25 million revenue mark with more than 100 people employed in 14 states. Outside of his responsibilities with MLE, Mike Loftus is a passionate sports fan who counts the Chicago Cubs as his favorite Major League Baseball (MLB) team.

The 2018 MLB Amateur Draft was held in early June and the Cubs added 42 players, 28 of which were out of college, while the remaining 14 players were drafted out of high school. With its first-round pick, the team selected Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner, who is regarded as a contact hitter with good patience at the plate. In his last season with the team, Hoerner recorded a .345 batting average to go along with 2 home runs and 40 runs batted in. He also had 17 doubles and 6 triples to go along with 20 walks and 22 strikeouts.

Chicago used its next two picks to add high school players Brennen Davis, an outfielder from Basha High School in Arizona, and Cole Roederer, an outfielder from Hart High School in California. The team rounded out its top five selections with University of San Diego right-handed pitcher Paul Richan and Duke outfielder Jimmy Herron.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chicago Bears Hire Former Chiefs Offensive Coordinator as Head Coach

Mike Loftus is the founder, owner, and president of MLE, Inc., a nationally recognized brand services company based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. When he's not busy with his responsibilities at MLE, Mike Loftus enjoys following the Chicago Bears.

Following a disappointing 2017 season in which the team finished 5-11, the Chicago Bears announced on January 8 that they had hired Matt Nagy as head coach. Nagy replaced John Fox who was let go one week prior to the announcement.

Nagy previously served as offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs. Under his direction, the team finished fifth overall in offense over the 2017 NFL season. Nagy’s offensive prowess was particularly apparent after the Chiefs head coach, Andy Reid, handed him play-calling duties with five games remaining in the regular reason. During this time, scoring jumped by 10 points per game, and Kansas City finished 4-1.

Nagy looks to bring similar results to the Bears team who finished last in passing in 2017. His efforts will notably involve developing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who is entering his second year in 2018.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Expansion of NCAA March Madness Field Remains a Possibility

For more than 15 years, Mike Loftus has led operations at MLE Merchandising and Sign Solutions, Inc., in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, as company president. Beyond his work at MLE, Mike Loftus enjoys following professional and collegiate sports, including the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.

In 2010, the NCAA opted to expand March Madness from 65 to 68 teams through a series of play-in games. The organization had considered expanding the field to 96 teams as part of a 14-year deal with CBS and Turner Broadcasting, valued at nearly $11 billion, but the concept was met with derision from coaches and fans alike. The smaller 2010 expansion was the first since 2001, when the field grew from 64 to 65 teams.

However, the current broadcast deal continues to provide the NCAA with the option of expanding the tournament at any point, and the attraction of a 96-team field, which would mean more games and increased participation at college campuses around the nation, remains on the table. Critics, meanwhile, point out that expanding to 96 or 128 teams renders the conference tournaments, which are currently very competitive and dramatic, essentially pointless, as virtually every moderately talented team in the nation would qualify for March Madness. 

For now, the NCAA has no immediate plans for growing the tournament outside of continuing to televise every game over the course of the competition, though a middle ground, such adding four more teams for a total of 72 colleges, might be an option.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Five Ways Pets Improve Mental Health

Mike Loftus is an Illinois-based entrepreneur who founded MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in 2002, and has since expanded its operations across 14 states. Outside of work, MLE's Mike Loftus has several pets at home, including two Great Danes. 

Studies have shown that owning a pet is good for your health. Here are five ways pets can improve your well-being.

1. They can decrease stress levels.
Grooming and touching a pet can be comforting and calming, which stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces blood pressure, anxiety, and tension. Oxytocin also suppresses cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.

2. They provide a distraction from issues that are bothering you.
Spending time with your pet helps to keep you in the present moment and prevents you from dwelling too much on negative issues.

3. They can reduce feelings of loneliness.
Pets make good company and are often intuitive enough to seek you out when they recognize you are feeling sad.

4. They offer unconditional love.
Pets are happy to be with you just as you are and don’t pass judgment.

5. They give meaning to your life.
Caring for a pet gives you a purpose and allows you to reduce your focus on yourself.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Chicago Cubs Sign Pitcher Brandon Morrow to a Two-Year Deal

For over 15 years, Mike Loftus has served as the president of MLE Merchandising and Sign Solutions (dba MLE, Inc.), a brand-services company based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Outside of work, Mike Loftus enjoys boating, grilling, and watching sports. He roots for several professional and college teams, including the Chicago Cubs. 

The Chicago Cubs have added some pitching depth to their 2018 lineup by signing Brandon Morrow to a two-year deal. Morrow, who played for the Dodgers in 2017, had an impressive showing against the Chicago Cubs when the two teams met for the 2017 National League Championship Series. He finished the 2017 season with a 2.06 earned-run average in 45 games. 

The 33-year-old Morrow is entering his 12th season in the majors. In college, he played at the University of California, Berkley, before debuting in his first major league game with the Seattle Mariners. Morrow later pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and the San Diego Padres prior to his one-year stint in Los Angeles. The right-handed reliever boasts a career ERA of 4.05 in 299 appearances.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cubs Sign Left-Handed Pitcher Dario Alvarez

The recipient of a bachelor's degree in business administration from Winona State University, Mike Loftus founded MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in 2002 with $40,000 and has since grown it into a comprehensive branding company with annual revenue exceeding $25 million. When he isn't working to further grow MLE, Mike Loftus enjoys following his favorite Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs' relief pitchers combined last season to post a 3.80 earned run average (ERA), which was sixth-best in the 30-team MLB, but the team is already attempting to improve its depth for the 2018 season. On December 1, the team signed left-handed relief pitcher Dario Alvarez to a one-year contract. A 28-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, Alvarez recorded an impressive 2.76 ERA in 16.33 innings last season with the Texas Rangers. He also registered 17 strikeouts, but displayed pitch location issues with his slider that led to 14 walks. Despite being atop the ERA leader board last season, the Cubs relievers allowed a combined 264 walks, which was fifth-most in the league.

The hope is that Alvarez's struggles with pitch location in 2017 were just a blip as he has had good command of his pitches in the past. Prior to the 2017 season, he pitched in a combined 31.66 innings with the Rangers, New York Mets, and Atlanta Braves and allowed only 8 walks.

Friday, December 1, 2017

MLE Completes Redesign of The Men’s Wearhouse Retail Store

As head of MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions, Inc., Mike Loftus meets the needs of diverse clients, from FedEx to Starbucks, for in-store retail displays and other branding services. MLE’s Mike Loftus also has a passion for retail-focused signage and enjoys learning about the history of signs and vinyl graphics. 

One successful print marketing campaign of the 1950s was that of 7Up, which came up with the tagline “Nothing does it like 7Up.” It uniquely featured babies enjoying the soda as its prominent visual element. 

The campaign was enabled after a protracted battle with the Internal Revenue Service, with a landmark decision freeing the company from paying taxes on certain income related to advertising. This allowed the regional bottlers to back advertising for the company as a whole and 7Up launched its first coordinated advertising campaigns encompassing magazines, radio, and television. 

By the end of the 1950s, national 7Up campaigns were an annual tradition and included “7UP Floats” advertising focused on the pairing of the soda beverage and ice cream. This approach spawned a major hit in the 1960s with the unveiling of the “Uncola” message and the positioning of the brand as a refreshing alternative to Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Things to Consider before Getting a Dachshund

For the last 15 years, Mike Loftus has led MLE Merchandising and Sign Solutions, Inc., in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, as president. Beyond his work with MLE, Mike Loftus enjoys spending time with his family and dogs. One of his four dogs is a dachshund

Dachshunds are popular among owners in need of a smaller dog but who still desire the activity levels of a larger animal. Dachshunds are very curious and much braver than their small stature might suggest, with few individuals exceeding 30 pounds and many weighing closer to half that weight. While the dog’s lively, bold nature can be attractive to some owners, it also is indicative of the challenges the breed can pose to others.

A properly trained and socialized dachshund can get along well with other pets, but may become jealous if it feels that it is not receiving adequate attention. Individuals or families who feel uncomfortable handling canine possessiveness may want to look at another breed or seek out professional training.

Similarly, dachshunds are very protective of their homes. If left unchecked, this behavior can manifest in highly aggressive interactions with strangers. In a best case scenario, owners should be prepared to hear the sharp, repetitive bark of their little dog whenever someone approaches the house.

Finally, dachshunds are highly stubborn dogs. Positive reinforcement and food-based training are an owner’s best bet, but those who have little experience training a puppy may find themselves outmatched.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Misleading Size of the Jack Russell Terrier

Mike Loftus is the president and founder of MLE Merchandising and Sign Solutions, Inc., in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. MLE has provided branding services and merchandising support to more than 15,000 clients in the last three years alone. Away from work, Mike Loftus enjoys spending time with his family and their four dogs, including a Jack Russell terrier. 

Typically weighing 13-17 pounds, the Jack Russell terrier challenges owners with energy levels far exceeding their tiny frames. The breed was originally raised to hunt for foxes and is most satisfied when provided with some physical task to perform. Owners who do not provide their terriers with a job and fail to offer at least 40 minutes of daily exercise can expect their small companion’s temperament to shift from jovial to destructive rather quickly.

Terriers present owners with a number of additional challengers in spite of their convenient size. They are frequent barkers who enjoy digging. Additionally, a Jack Russell cannot coexist with house cats or small rodent pets, like hamsters or ferrets, as the dog will view such animals as prey. This is an instinctive trait of the breed and cannot be overcome through any amount of training.

In the correct home, when given the proper exercise and social interactions, the Jack Russell can be an invaluable addition to the family.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Elements of Effective Signage

Since 2002, Mike Loftus has served as president and owner of MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Mike Loftus has built MLE into a nationally recognized producer of brand signage.

Effectively designed signage must be clear, informative, and engaging. The first thing that it must do is catch the attention of the person passing by, and color plays a key role in this process. Studies have shown that 80 percent of a logo's memorability stems directly from its use of a recognizable color scheme, ideally one that is perennial enough to appeal to viewers even as trends come and go.

Color schemes also allow for visual contrast, which helps the sign to be readable. Dark text on a very light background, or vice versa, can help the viewer to read key information. Similarly, by contrasting the background of the sign with the color of its surroundings, a designer can call attention to the sign itself.

Variation is helpful in font sizing as well, since it helps to direct the viewer's eye to important information. Multiple words of the same size can make it difficult for the person passing by to take away the key message, such as the business' name or web address. By making that important information larger, the designer can create emphasis.

Designers must take care not to use too many words on signage. Businesses with several services or products may wish to showcase just one, and the same is true for modes of contact. Rather than list the business' mailing address, email, and phone, showcase a memorable phone number or website that the viewer can remember without much effort.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Notre Dame Quarterback DeShone Kizer Drafted by Cleveland Browns

Mike Loftus serves as president of MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions, an Illinois-based marketing and branding enterprise. Beyond his responsibilities with MLE, Mike Loftus is an avid fan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team.

For the past two seasons, Notre Dame has been led by quarterback DeShone Kizer, but the team will have a fresh face under center in 2017. Kizer was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Through 25 games with Notre Dame, the 6-foot-4-inch-tall quarterback completed over 60 percent of his passes, accumulated 5,809 passing yards and recorded 47 touchdowns through the air. He also rushed for 992 yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns. 

Kizer is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play for the Fighting Irish. He is second in both the single-game rushing yards by a quarterback record and the single-game touchdown pass record. His 10 rushing touchdowns in 2015 are also the most among Notre Dame quarterbacks. Kizer recently emerged out of a training camp battle with veterans Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler to earn the Browns' starting quarterback position.