Signs may be in her blood.
Elena started her career managing national accounts at a small sign company in Haverhill, MA, before moving to another sign company in Hudson, NH. Polishing her skills and learning the business, she pined for an opportunity to combine national accounts marketing with business development and trade show action. Just about the time she began to feel confined, she learned of an opportunity at Metro Sign and Awning, and leaped at it.
It was a perfect fit. Elena was looking to flex her marketing muscles, and Metro Sign was looking to grow.
“We have great people in all the right positions, ” she explains, “and I have all the tools to create my own success. Basically, the sky’s the limit here. I do well with that because I’m a little bit of a free spirit.”
With her two daughters finishing high-school, she’s keeping her feet planted while avoiding the necessary travel of national account work. She’s happy working on Regional Accounts while forwarding any travel demands to Tom Dunn and Mark Vella.
“Business development is a long-term effort,” Elena explains. “It takes between six months and three years to develop an opportunity, and requires a huge amount of time and energy. Imagine if you put in that much work and then pass off the project to someone else who just drops it. That’s painful.”
Of course, passing off travel to others is only a temporary strategy. By the time her kids go to college, she’ll be ready to pack a bag and again do her own traveling.
But working from a base in Boston is hardly limiting. For example, Elena found a lead that brought her in early contact with the key decision-makers at the upscale Waterside development. Her hard work created the opportunity to pitch them on Metro Sign’s capabilities. Elena and Mark, with the design team, put together a conceptual plan for presentation to the Waterside owners, and those ideas got Metro Sign hired to do the work.
“I like the core belief system here at Metro Sign,” says Elena. “We all help each other, so I can get as much support as I ask for. As much as I care about doing a great job, I know that everyone else on this team is caring just as much and giving just as much attention to the projects as I am. No one here walks away from a challenge, and I love that.”
There are plenty of challenging projects, too. Meritage, for example, in the Boston Harbor Hotel, wanted custom raspberry and blues that were extremely demanding colors to deliver in vinyl that illuminates well.
“It was difficult to get the color schemes and the lighting to work just the right way,” remembers Elena, “but by the time we finished, they came out absolutely beautiful. Even better, I handled that project from beginning to end. That’s business development for you.”
In recent months, Elena has been busy working with Besito, a chain of Mexican restaurants coming to New England, with two openings so far, in Burlington and Chestnut Hill.
“We had to be aware of brand consistency,” explains Elena, “but that’s no problem for me. I understand how a property owners’ signage criteria can conflict with the town’s permitting criteria. With my background in national accounts, I have a lot of experience taking brands’ standards and fitting them into towns’ requirements. I worked those Besito projects from beginning to end, and had a great time.”
As you’d expect with business development, one thing leads to another. Working with the people at Waterside for 18 months allowed Elena to develop a good relationship with the people at Suffolk Construction. She’s now working with them on Suffolk University (the name is a coincidence), doing interior signage and an exterior mural made out of 20 panels that, when completed, will create a high pressure laminate curtain wall.
Projects currently on her desk include:
- Fox Run Mall, in Newington, NH, for Simon Property Group
- The Crossings, a mall managed by KeyPoint Partners (Elena attended three planning board meetings to help get their signage approved)
- Northeastern University, helping to develop signage for a conference center and a visitor center, as well as for a new space on the coast in Nahant, MA.
“That’s a special challenge,” Elena says, eyes bright, “because all the materials have to be able to withstand salt air!
It all keeps me busy, which I enjoy, along with doing new things and keeping fresh,” she says. “It’s like keeping five balls in the air at the same time, which I thrive on.”