We had a great interview Monday with Joseph Mancino, CEO of Chicago-based GreenSigns, a two-year-old digital signage company with a real difference.
That difference: All GreenSigns digital signage is wind- or solar-powered and made of 99% recycled plastics and steel.
“The company is officially just two, but I had been putting together the business plan for over five years,” says Mancino, who earlier ran Chicago Outdoor Media, a company offering static signs and one large digital location in Chicago. Mancino is also in his second term as Mayor of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois.
GreenSigns has two other partners: David Williams, president of the company, and a silent investor.
“Once our silent investor came on board, we were able to get rolling,” says Mancino. “We rolled Chicago Outdoor Media into the company, as well, and the new company developed all new digital locations.
“GreenSigns came about because of my personal passion for sustainability. Not only are the signs wind or solar powered and made from recycled materials, but our sales organization is totally paperless. And while, as a renter we can’t make the entire building sustainable, we have worked with all the other companies in our building – about 30 businesses in all – to develop a recycling program for the entire building.”
And while GreenSigns itself is energy-certified, it has been working for the past 10 months to put together the material needed to apply for Leeds certification.
GreenSigns’ basic digital product is a 10’ x 10’ display, either single-faced if placed low on a wall or double-faced if on a pole. The displays – which use Ayuda Systems for practically everything including content management, sales, real estate and financial services – are mainly located in what Mancino refers to as ‘gentrified upscale new and commercial building areas’.
“They are in areas where a lot of older buildings have been modernized and are considered hip areas with lots of young, urban professionals,” he says. “And while we are beginning to get national advertising from companies like the lottery, Allstate Insurance and Home Depot, we have more from local companies such as dentists, health clubs and dog-walking services.”
To add to its basic products, GreenSigns recently added a 14’ x 48’ digital board in the Oakbrook area of Chicago DMA and in Q1, 2015, it will be introducing 14’ x 48’ boards and 20’ x 60’ boards on highways in the Chicago area, all wind- or solar-powered.
Current inventory, in addition to the new board, is 29 digital faces, six varied-size large static billboards (from Mancino’s former company) in downtown Chicago, and one large format wall that uses a recycled vinyl-like product from Eco-flex and was digitally printed by Circle Graphics.
“While we are still a small company, we have the finances and are going after acquisitions,” says Mancino.
“We’ve also developed best management practices for sustainability,” he says. “Maybe we can help influence the industry towards collectively becoming more sustainable.”