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Carvertise eyes big growth with new Riverfront HQ

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Carvertise headquarters Wilmington Riverfront Shipyard Center HQ

Carvertise opened its new Riverfront headquarters in Wilmington as the fast-growing company eyes a new phase of business. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CARVERTISE

WILMINGTON – Carvertise, the advertising company that utilizes custom-wrapped rideshare vehicles, officially opened its new Riverfront headquarters last week, and leaders are now planning an aggressive growth phase for the company.

Mac Macleod Carvertise SBDC

Mac Macleod, CEO and co-founder of Carvertise, said that international business is likely in the company’s future. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

Co-founder and CEO Mac Macleod told Delaware Business Times that the new $1.2 million, 15,000-square-foot offices in the Shipyard Center in Wilmington’s Riverfront were essential to help it retain the talented staff who have driven its 55% annual revenue growth over the past decade.

The company currently has about 55 employees and expects to hit 60 before the end of the year, Macleod said. The new space, under lease from Pettinaro for 10 years, could accommodate upward of 150 employees. While sales and support roles will be a part of that growth, Macleod said the company would also increasingly be hiring technology roles to help build out its own proprietary systems and app – to date it has relied on modified third-party applications.

A decade ago, Macleod and Greg Star founded the company as University of Delaware students, hiring drivers who wrapped their cars in vinyl advertising and used a GPS app to log time driving in client-designated areas. They later moved their headquarters to a warehouse in Wilmington’s Browntown neighborhood that doubled as a garage to wrap drivers’ vehicles. But since then, the company’s profile and sales have exploded – it ranked on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in 2020 and 2022 – and Macleod recognized that attracting and retaining talent would be difficult.

He spent more than a year looking at options in and around Wilmington, before finding the Shipyard Center space, which offers proximity to Interstate 95 and 495, convenient parking, access to the Riverwalk and Jack Markell Trail, numerous restaurants, and significant natural light and greenery.

Carvertise headquarters Wilmington Riverfront Shipyard Center HQ

Most of Carvertise’s employees work out of its new headquarters office, where they coordinate advertising campaigns across the country. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

Having built a successful company in Delaware and cultivating a big network of business relationships and legislative support, Macleod said the company was proud to put down long-term roots here rather than move its headquarters to a larger market like Philadelphia.

“Even if access to different levels of talent may be more accessible in other areas, there were enough pros to justify investing in the headquarters here,” he said.

Being based in Delaware does mean that staffers will have to venture out more to meet and nurture client relationships though. The company anticipates attending 50 trade shows this year to meet with existing and potential clients.

Macleod said he expects Carvertise to maintain its growth rate for the next few years as they are entering a phase where they have to educate clients less about what they offer.

“We’re established in the industry. Everyone knows who we are, but it’s still not mainstream, it’s still not hard coded on to [request for proposals],” he said of their unique outdoor advertising model.

Carvertise will soon hire its first national agency sales role to help break through the logjam that often comes with working through third-party agencies that coordinate ads for major national brands.

Driving much of the company’s latest growth are its “swarm” campaigns, where a dozen or more wrapped vehicles drive around a given venue for a major event, ranging from a pharmaceutical conference to the Super Bowl. Carvertise is still booking months-long exposure campaigns, but the market has embraced swarms quickly, Macleod said.

Carvertise headquarters Wilmington Riverfront Shipyard Center HQ

The new headquarters features a modern industrial styling designed by Mitchell & Associates and could accommodate about 100 more employees. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

Carvertise has booked major clients like Netflix, Draft Kings, Wawa, EA Sports, Buffalo Wild Wings, and more, often connecting through industry relations. It landed a deal with Netflix to promote its Kevin James-helmed series “The Crew” around the Daytona 500 in 2021 through such networking, and the streaming giant later returned for another campaign for a children’s program.

In one of its biggest successes to date, Carvertise recently landed a deal with Coca-Cola to do a swarm campaign for the soda giant outside Seattle Mariners baseball games this summer.

“They’re obviously a big brand that does a lot of out-of-home marketing, so it’s a big opportunity there,” Macleod said.

The company also has a very high client return rate, especially in industries like higher education and state government – primarily outside of Delaware, according to Macleod.

Carvertise ad

Carvertise has grown over its first decade, powered in part by tourism brands like St. Petersburg, Fla., looking to reach potential visitors in colder cities. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CARVERTISE

“Repeat business has to make up the majority of your business, because otherwise growth gets too hard. If you have a hole in the bottom of your bucket, it will never fill,” he said.

One untapped growth area for a technology-driven company like Carvertise is foreign markets. Macleod noted that direct marketing organizations like Florida tourism offices have already pushed Carvertise into Canada, with Toronto, Montreal and Quebec being home to prior campaigns, and global pharmaceutical companies are eyeing future overseas events.

“I think both [tourism and pharmaceutical] will end up pushing us out internationally,” he said, noting the company has pending jobs in Madrid, Copenhaven and Singapore.

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