A legendary billboard plant in Richmond Indiana is for sale. The plant was built by Tom Raper, an Indiana entrepreneur who made money in the RV business, real estate and billboards. He built the billboards to provide advertising support for his RV dealership. Raper died in 2015 and his estate is now selling the billboards. Insider talked with John Savey who represents the estate in the billboard sale. Contact John Savey @ 407-466-6910 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information.
John, talk about Tom Raper
Tom was the quintessential American success story, a self-made man. He invested $2,000 in a used car dealership in Richmond Indiana in 1964. When he noticed travel trailers passing by his car lot, he thought there might be a long term opportunity selling and servicing campers. Over the years he ceased selling cars and began to sell a variety of trailers, campers and RV’s, culminating with becoming the largest RV dealer in the tri-state area.
How did Tom get into the billboard business?
He was a promoter who initially marketed his business utilizing fledgling cable television ads in the 1970s. During the 1990’s, Tom recognized the tremendous value billboards provided by displaying his message 24/7 and began to permit and erect billboards on his own properties adjacent to I-70 in Richmond. Then he purchased additional billboard structures along I-75 and I-70 in Ohio from Troy to Springfield and south through Dayton to Cincinnati. In 2002, Tom sold the RV business and kept the billboards.
Tell us about the plant.
The billboard plant consists of 34 structures with 76 total ad faces. 72 of the 76 total faces are on Interstate Highways in eastern Indiana and western Ohio.
All of the structures are illuminated except one single faced wood sign. The majority of the billboards are steel monopoles ranging in advertising face size from 12 by 48 up to 20 by 60. All but two of the monopoles were built by Jon Odom of Productivity Fabricators in Richmond, Indiana.
17 of the structures displaying 32 faces have perpetual permanent easements. 7 of the structures displaying 14 faces have recorded prepaid leases with 27+ years remaining. The plant is very profitable.
Why does this offer an attractive opportunity?
The plant consists mainly of high quality steel monopoles.
Current advertising occupancy is only 58%. In addition, there is significant room to improve revenue with a professional outdoor sales and marketing effort. The plant has never been professionally managed and has never had the benefit of a dedicated outdoor advertising employee.
Finally, the portfolio includes easements or prepaid long term leases under 24 of the 34 structures which translates to an annual lease expense of less than 20% of current revenue which can be driven down into the mid-to-low teens with additional sales.