ANC may not be a household name, but its products are hard to miss, especially for sports fans.
When the NBA championship finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors move to Cleveland for Game 3 next Wednesday, more than 20,000 people will sit under the massive LED screen the Purchase-based company, ANC Sports Enterprises LLC, designed and operates at Quicken Loans Arena. The 5,550-square-foot, four-sided scoreboard was nicknamed “Humongotron” by the team when it debuted in 2014. It’s the largest high definition scoreboard in the country.
Tens of thousands of spectators will glance at ANC scoreboards and displays at baseball stadiums across the country and more will pass by ANC-operated screens at the Fulton Center transit hub and Westfield World Trade Center Mall in Lower Manhattan.
All told, ANC’s LED scoreboards, screens and banners reach hundreds of millions of eyeballs every year, all from a company headquartered in a 10,000-square-foot office at 2 Manhattanville Road in The Centre at Purchase office park.
Jerry Cifarelli, ANC’s president and CEO, co-founded the company in 1997. Over 20 years, ANC has grown from a $2.5 million startup focused on rotational signage at sports stadiums into a leading provider of high definition LED signage and technology. The company has about $60 million in annual revenue, more than 200 employees, hundreds of completed projects in professional and collegiate sports and a growing client base in the retail and transit sector. The company projects $100 million in annual revenue going forward, according to an ANC spokesperson.
“When you sit and start talking about it,” Cifarelli said, “It’s a nice story, the evolution of things. And how did it happen? I’m not sure. It took a lot of hard work, people dedicated to what they were doing, and taking some risk.”
Cifarelli, an Iona College graduate, founded the company with a team of four other investors, led by Alan N. Cohen, a former co-owner of the Boston Celtics and New Jersey Nets, whose initials gave ANC Sports its name. Its DBA name was shortened to ANC in 2016 as part of the company’s expanded focus beyond sports.
After launching, ANC signed a deal to provide courtside rotational signage for WNBA games, the women’s basketball league that was also in its first season. By the next year, the company added 19 new clients across professional sports.
The company quickly expanded beyond rotational signage. Cifarelli stressed that ANC is a technology and service company and much of its growth has been driven by developing new ways to operate digital signage.
Two years after its founding, ANC developed its own operating platform for LED systems. The software allowed the company to launch LED digital signage that wrapped around arenas and stadiums, known as LED ribbons.
The Ottawa Senators was the first professional sports team to debut the full 360-degree ribbon screens around its arena, though several sports franchises soon followed. ANC later expanded on that software to create a platform that allowed central control of all LED banners, scoreboards and other screens throughout stadiums.
“We said, this doesn’t make a lot of sense just doing ribbon signage. Let’s hang a few scoreboards with it, lets marry the scoreboard with the ribbons,” Cifarelli said. “We advanced our technology, and all of the sudden we’re doing the Cleveland Cavaliers, one of the largest video screens in an arena concept.”
Along with the Cavaliers, the company designed LED video screens and ribbons for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Indiana Pacers and universities such as Texas Tech and Xavier. The company is in the midst of projects for Notre Dame and the University of Texas.
“That’s how we really recognize ourselves,” Cifarelli said. “When you look at the most prestigious brands in sports… they usually select us.”
ANC has won those clients, according to Cifarelli, through a “turnkey” approach. The company handles all aspects of the display systems, from engineering and installation to operation and maintenance. A 15-person graphics and design team at ANC also develops content for the displays. The company does everything except manufacture the LEDs, on which it partners with Mitsubishi.
“For certain franchises, it was perfect,” Cifarelli said of ANC’s comprehensive approach. “They said great, I don’t have to worry about hiring 10 people to worry about this technology.”
In 2015, ANC was purchased by Learfield Communications Inc., a marketing partner for hundreds of universities in the U.S. Learfield’s ownership helped open up the university market for the company, Cifarelli said, and also provided strong financial backing. The new Texas-based ownership immediately encouraged ANC to grow its staff.
“This is the first time in 20 years where I don’t have to think about paying the bills,” Cifarelli said. “I can think in a bigger way. And it’s taken time to build that culture inside ANC, to think big.”
Thinking big is what pushed ANC outside of its sports focus. The company in recent years has moved into retail and transit centers, starting with the Westfield World Trade Center. The company designed and operates 5,000 square feet of LED displays throughout the 350,000-square-foot shopping center that opened last year.
ANC also was contracted to build and operate digital signage at Manhattan’s Fulton Center transit hub, a project that launched in 2015. Its work there represents the largest digital network in any New York transit hub. It includes 44 LCD video walls totaling more than 1,200 square feet and more than 2,100 square feet of LED displays. The screens offer a news feed, sports, weather, advertising, transit information and host digital art displays. Last year, the project was recognized with a Digital Signage Expo APEX award, which represents the best from the annual international trade show.
With two high-profile transit jobs already completed, more projects are on the way and will be announced soon by the company, Cifarelli said.
“People finally aren’t perceiving us just as a sign company, as we used to be,” Cifarelli said. “I tell people, Who is ANC? We are a technology services company, simple as that. We just happen to hang displays, wherever they are.”
And that opens up plenty of opportunities.
“Where can we be? Anywhere and everywhere,” Cifarelli said.