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.

Friday, August 25, 2017

MLE, Inc.’s Rollout of In-Store Displays for Technology

Mike Loftus serves as the president of MLE, Inc., an established provider of branding services designed to meet client needs. Mike Loftus and the MLE team have undertaken multiple high-profile assignments for clients ranging from FedEx to Starbucks.

The firm has also undertaken several projects that met the needs of leading technology companies. Working with Sony, MLE installed SONY Smart Walls at nearly 800 Best Buy locations nationwide. The standalone display featured a 4K Ultra HD TV screen at the center, surrounded by printed advertising highlighting its clarity, which is four times that of traditional HD, and its brilliant color. A shelf extending below the screen provided details on the specific technologies that make this product such a compelling buy.

Another noteworthy MLE project centered on rolling out a fixture program for GoPro in 1,850 Target stores and more than 2,000 Wal-Mart locations. The displays featured a TV screen highlighting GoPro’s versatile uses in a variety of environments as well as a number of GoPro models and accessories extending to the floor below.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Introduction to Becoming a Cub Scouts Den Leader

Mike Loftus has spent the last 15 years as president of MLE Merchandising and Sign Solutions, Inc., in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Mike Loftus contributes to a number of philanthropic organizations through MLE, which manages annual revenue exceeding $25 million. He also supports the local Cub Scouts of America as a den leader.

Individuals must meet several eligibility requirements before becoming a den leader with the Cub Scouts of America. A den leader must be at least 21 years of age and should, ideally, have experience as a Scout leader. Prior leadership experience is not necessary for parents and guardians of Scouts, though they will need to demonstrate their dedication to the pack. All den leaders must register with the Boy Scouts of America as an adult leader, regardless of their past engagements with the organization.

Following a meeting with the Cubmaster, who will likely discuss potential den leader candidates with the parents and guardians of the Scouts involved, den leaders will be introduced to their new responsibilities. A few of these responsibilities include planning and hosting den meetings, engaging with fellow leaders at pack meetings, and, most importantly, preparing Scouts for their next rank or their transition to the Boy Scouts.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chicago Bears Fan Zone - Ultimate Fan Packages

As president of MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions Inc. in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, Mike Loftus oversees the various departments responsible for the marketing, production, and installation of interior and exterior signage. Outside of his work with with MLE Merchandising, Mike Loftus is also an avid sports enthusiast who follows, the Chicago Bears, his favorite NFL team.

As a way of giving back to their fans, the Chicago Bears have created a fan zone on the team’s website that provides fans of the football team with special promotions and information to keep them updated on team activities, such as the Ultimate Fan Packages.

The Chicago Bears Ultimate Fan Packages allow fans to select a package that best fits their needs. Fans have a variety of packages to choose from, including the Hospitality Package, which provides exclusive VIP access to the Midway at Soldier Field, giving fans a unique game-day environment to enjoy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Chicago Bears Make Change at Quarterback in Free Agency

Mike Loftus created MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions in 2002, and under his leadership the company now generates more than $25 million in annual revenues. When he isn't assisting MLE's clients with the company's portfolio of branding services, Mike Loftus enjoys watching his favorite NFL football team, the Chicago Bears.

After eight seasons with Jay Cutler as the team's starting quarterback, the Bears will begin the 2017 National Football League (NFL) season with a fresh look under center. Chicago released Cutler on March 9 and, the following day, signed free agent Mike Glennon to a three-year, $43.5 million contract. A third round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, Glennon has a career 5-13 record through his first three seasons in the league. He started 13 games for Tampa Bay in 2013, but appeared in just eight games over the next two seasons. He has thrown 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Though Cutler failed to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl, he finishes his career with Chicago as the team's all-time leader in nearly every passing category, including touchdowns (154), passing yards (23,443), and completions (2,020).

Friday, April 7, 2017

Director James Mangold Wants to Make a Bruce Springsteen Biopic

In 2002, Mike Loftus established MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions, Inc., a middle-market brand services company specializing in branding, signage, retail construction, and printing. Now, MLE has a presence in 14 states with over 100 employees. When Mike Loftus is not working, he enjoys listening to Bruce Springsteen, whom he considers one of his favorite musicians. 

Film director James Mangold has expressed interest in potentially making a Bruce Springsteen biopic focusing on a tumultuous period early in the Boss’ career. Mangold directed 2005’s Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line. More recently, he directed Fox’s superhero film Logan, part of the X-Men franchise. 

Mangold envisions a Springsteen film concentrating on the E Street Band’s mid-70s legal struggles with Mike Appel, the band’s former manager. The drama, which prevented the band from recording any new songs for a two-year period, came soon after the success of their 1975 album, Born to Run. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Mangold professed himself as a “lifetime Springsteen fan,” though it’s uncertain whether the director’s enthusiasm for the musician will be enough. In a 2016 interview with BBC 6 Music, Springsteen said that his ideal director for his biopic would be legendary director Martin Scorsese.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bruce Springsteen's Make-or-Break Third Album

As the founder and president of MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions, Mike Loftus has grown the company from an Illinois startup to a 14-state company that employs more than 100 people. When he isn't focused on overseeing all divisions of MLE, Mike Loftus enjoys listening to one of his favorite musicians, Bruce Springsteen.

It's hard to remember Springsteen as anything but a rock legend, but in fact he didn't attain that status until his third album, Born to Run. Though the New Jersey singer and songwriter was hailed as the next Bob Dylan by Columbia Records' John Hammond, Springsteen's first two albums - Greetings From Ashbury Park, NJ and The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle - didn't sell enough to convince the company that he was going to be the massive star he eventually became. However, Springsteen changed the narrative with Born to Run and his incredibly-reviewed live shows, which were lauded by Rolling Stone magazine. One of the magazine's contributors, Jon Landau, wrote: "I have seen rock n’ roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen."

He debuted the album's title track at a live show in June of 1974 and it played on a Philadelphia radio station in November of that year, nine months before the album's official release. After a 14-month recording period, Springsteen released the album in August of 1975 and it subsequently made him the star Columbia thought he would become, as he landed on the covers of Newsweek and Time. The album reached triple-platinum status in 1986.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Jack Russell Terrier Spreads Holiday Cheer at California Hospital

As the head of MLE Merchandising Signs & Solutions Inc., Mike Loftus is responsible for making the final decisions that will lead to the company’s success. When he is not working at MLE, Mike Loftus enjoys time at home with his family and dogs, one of which is a Jack Russell Terrier.

During the 2016 holidays, a 10-year-old Jack Russell Terrier named Sancho spread some holiday cheer at the San Gabriel Valley Medical Center in California. Sancho, whose owner brings him each week to the hospital to entertain the patients, rode around in a toy Volkswagen bus all over the medical institution, dressed in a Christmas outfit. The hospital has a pet therapy program to help patients with anxiety. 

Photos of Sancho during his run on his VW bus immediately went viral. In a week’s time, the images had netted more than 8,000 retweets and more than 11,000 likes on social media.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Large-Scale MLE Sign Installations for Chase Bank

Mike Loftus is a respected entrepreneur who guides MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions, Inc., and focuses on meeting the brand promotion and servicing needs of diverse corporate clients. Emphasizing turnkey solutions, Mike Loftus and his MLE team members have undertaken a number of high-profile “brandvironments” projects. 

One recent high-profile engagement with Chase Bank involved setting in place a coordinated Serena Williams graphic rollout spanning 10 states and nearly 80 locations. Timed to coincide with the start of the U.S. Open tennis competition, the advertisements required site-specific placement and a truly custom approach to installation. Veteran professionals oversaw all assignment details, including printing, production, design, and site surveys that enabled seamless installation over a one-month period. 

MLE has also undertaken a recently completed Chase Bank graphic change-out project throughout the New York and New Jersey region. This special project focused on the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and involved replacing Serena Williams graphics for ones that anticipate the holiday season.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Cub Scouts of America

MLE president Mike Loftus leads the company in providing large-scale signage, renovation, and installation turnkey solutions from its headquarters in Elk Grove, Illinois. Outside his responsibilities with MLE, Mike Loftus serves as a den leader for the Cub Scouts of America.

Cub Scouts encourages young boys to learn through direct participation and teaches a plethora of camping and outdoor skills, such as tent pitching, tying knots, and cooking over a campfire. Scouts can participate in a wide variety of activities, from camping and hiking to field trips and service projects benefiting the community.

Cub Scouts is a scouting branch of the Boy Scouts of America for boys in first through fifth grade that value include helping others, social responsibility, and good citizenship. Scouting troops are called packs, which are divided into smaller groups known as dens. Dens consist of six to eight boys in the same grade, who in many circumstances attend the same school.

For more information on the Cub Scouts of America and scouting activities, visit

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Look at the History of the Great Dane

Mike Loftus founded MLE Merchandising and Sign Solutions in 2002 and led the company to pass the $10 million mark within eight years of its launch. Mike Loftus enjoys spending time with his family outside of MLE. His family owns several pets, including two Great Danes

Despite its name, the Great Dane’s origins trace back to Germany and England, although canine historians hypothesize it may also have roots in Asia and Africa. Depictions of dogs resembling Great Danes appear as early as 2000 and 3000 BC on Egyptian monuments and Babylonian artifacts, and some zoologists believe the Great Dane’s lineage goes back to the highlands of Tibet due to its similarities to the Tibetan mastiff and the hypothesis that all mastiff-like breeds originated in Asia. Additionally, zoologists believe that mastiffs and Great Danes share a common ancestor in the Molossian dog, an ancient breed thought to guard livestock and people. 

Most of the breed’s known history occurs in Europe around the 14th century, with much of its primary development taking place in England and Germany. Previously known as boar hounds, Great Danes were once highly capable hunting dogs used to hunt boar. Hunters combined the speed of the greyhound with the musculature and physical prowess of the mastiff to create powerful dogs capable of taking down boars, which were among the Continent’s most powerful and savage big game. 

Breed developments toward the modern Great Dane started around the 1600s, during which time German noblemen began keeping the largest and most intimidating dogs at their estates. Fitted with velvet-lined collars, these dogs enjoyed the spoils of noble life, and their temperaments shifted over time from fierce hunter to loyal companion. They became a distinctive breed in 1880 and were originally named Deutsche Dogge, or “German Dog.” Credit for the title of Great Dane goes to French naturalist Comte de Buffon, who came upon the breed while traveling through Denmark. 

The Great Dane Club of America formed in 1889, although canine historians cannot pinpoint the date at which the breed first entered the United States.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Classifying the Dachshund Breed

Back in 2002, Mike Loftus founded Illinois-based middle market company MLE Merchandising & Sign Solutions with $40,000 of capital. By 2015, MLE had already reached the $25-million revenue mark. One of Mike Loftus’ other interests outside of work include pets. He and his family have a horse and several dogs, including a Dachshund.

The Dachshund is an interesting dog breed which was fittingly described by journalist H.L. Mencken as "half a dog high and a dog and a half long," a physical description which makes it distinct from other breeds. Despite its rather miniature size, it is also known for its tough personality. In fact, its name literally translates to "badger dog," as it has been known to be able to hunt badgers.

As with other breeds, the Dachshund breed also features different varieties. One way to categorize Dachshunds are based on their hair; they are either smooth (shorthaired), wirehaired, or longhaired. Different countries also have different ways of identifying varieties. In the United States, for example, Dachshunds can either be miniature (when they are under 11 pounds as an adult) or standard (when their adult weight falls between 16 and 32 pounds). Meanwhile, in Germany, the breed's country of origin, Dachshunds have their chest measurements taken at the age of fifteen months in order to be classified as either Standard, Miniature, or Kaninchenteckel.