Catalyst Outdoor sells to Lamar and Clear Channel Outdoor

Catalyst Outdoor founders (from left): CEO Thaddeus Bartkowski, Crystal Crawford, Patrick Wolfington

Catalyst Outdoor has divested a majority of its assets to Lamar and Clear Channel Outdoor in order to focus on developing non traditional structures nationwide.   The terms of the transactions were not disclosed but Sign Value’s Paul Wright, who has familiarity with the Catalyst assets that were divested estimated the transaction values combined to be between $85 and $95 million dollars.  Catalyst confirms that consideration was paid in cash and that the vast majority of assets were digital structures.  Insider talked with CEO Thaddeus Bartkowski,VP of Sales Crystal Crawford and VP Real Estate Patrick Wolfington about the transaction.

Thaddeus, give some background on Catalyst

I founded Catalyst in 2009 to develop outdoor advertising displays in the region’s suburbs, an area that had a fundamental lack of supply of outdoor advertising.  I owned three static signs from a previous out of home transaction and applied to build monopole sign structures in several municipalities.  Over eight years ago we built the largest outdoor digital signage network in the Philadelphia Demographic Market Area.  Our network included locations throughout the market including numerous monument signs.

Crystal how does the sale change the Philly market? 

In late 2017 Lamar also acquired the assets of Steen Outdoor based in Philadelphia.  Prior to the Steen and Catalyst transactions there were four companies that could offer advertisers meaningful coverage across the market.  With the recent acquisitions if becomes a two-horse race between Lamar and Clear Channel given the fact that combined they control almost 70% of the market’s digital inventory.

Thaddeus, talk about your monument signs.

We believe the future of outdoor looks nothing like a typical sign.  We created the first Monument about five years ago and found that it was well received by the community….We are pushing this evolution even further from Monuments into Occupied Structures where we combine a public use with visual communication technology.  We have some exciting things in construction including a Farmer’s Market, a Pedestrian Bridge, and my favorite; a Dog Park.  I call it Disneyland for dogs it’s going to be fantastic, the nicest dog park in the country!

Patrick and Thaddeus what does the future look like?

When we were laying the foundation for our national rollout we kept coming to the same conclusion; that we can’t focus on a national roll out while trying to run the largest digital signage network in the market.  While our focus is on national expansion Catalyst will always have a collection of world-class assets here in Philadelphia; after all Philadelphia is where it all began, it’s home.

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  1. To me, it would seem that monument signs walk a thin line with on-premise signs. Other than for large plazas in which retail stores could enjoy the directional ads, competitors outside wouldn’t have a chance at the sign, right? I could see monument signs outside outlet malls and retail plazas.

  2. Good question. One would think the same. In essence, it’s a catch 22, in my opinion. It’s not for every client, the same holds for any other form of advertising.

    I think it comes down to restrictions and integrity. Every sales person that sells advertising falls into two categories. Get it, no matter how you get there or do right by your customers and have integrity. Yes, companies in business want the dollars. Dollars don’t last forever, integrity does.