A Shift in Focus, a Focus on Safety

AdRail Escalator Handrail film at a convention center in Chicago

Gianni Cotteta (GC), president of AdRail USA, speaks with your author (KW) about the evolving-but-bright future of its escalator handrail film.

by Kaija Wilkinson
photos by AdRail USA

Your author recently spoke with AdRail USATM President Gianni Cotteta, who is based in NYC but had, at the time, been there only a couple of times in the past few months. That, of course, was because the city has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with sickness, fatalities and fear of contagion leading to an almost total shutdown of the “city that never sleeps.” Cotteta, who has lived in NYC for 20 years, describes the city as “electric” and the current situation as “surreal.” From a temporary home base in Pennsylvania in May, he said he is seeing indications that NYC businesses are starting to reopen. He is hopeful that, as more becomes known
about the virus, a vaccine will be found; economies will be saved; and companies like AdRail USA, exclusive U.S. provider of AdRailTM
Escalator Handrail Media (developed by EHC Global), will emerge stronger than ever.

Against this backdrop, AdRail USA envisions a future that is, at least in the short term, less reliant on what Cotteta says is its bread-and-butter business generator: international tradeshows. AdRail provides customers an opportunity to advertise and encourages passengers to hold onto escalator handrails, lessening the possibility of accidents and, in turn, liability. An antimicrobial coating is another feature of AdRail’s Escalator Handrail Media product (ELEVATOR WORLD, May 2020), and other customizations are no doubt on the way as the world adjusts to a new reality.

KW: Please provide an overview of AdRail USA.

GC: With our national headquarters in NYC, we have a small internal team consisting of sales, design, operations and administration, as well as various subcontractors nationwide in major markets who are trained and certified to install our product. We work with more than 250 venues nationwide, including large convention centers, hotels, stadiums, arenas, mass-transit systems, airports, shopping malls and office buildings. We are focused on major markets such as Las Vegas; Washington, D.C.; and Philadelphia.

We are the exclusive provider of AdRail in the U.S. and Caribbean. We have licensed our patented technology from EHC Global since 2008.

We are expecting a quantified increase in business due to COVID-19, based on demand we’re seeing for our antimicrobial escalator handrail media, which can also be used for public service announcements and other safety messages.

KW: Which markets are your busiest?

GC: We focus on the top metropolitan areas with the largest populations. Las Vegas is one of our biggest markets because of tradeshows. Now, it may switch over to hotels and casinos there. We are working with the Nevada Resort Association on offering AdRail Handrail Media as part of their reopening strategy for the properties. After Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia are big markets. However, we are excited about growing our existing nationwide business in several other major markets, especially since we’re at the point where AdRail Handrail Media is no longer a want; it’s a need.

KW: When did AdRail’s Escalator Handrail Media product receive the Liftinstituut Certificate of Conformance, and what did that mean to the company?

GC: We received it in December 2019. It was a major milestone in keeping current with high safety standards and compliance in the escalator industry.

KW: The last time AdRail was profiled in our publication (EW, October 2013), you said there were 2,000 installations worldwide, and now there are more than 3,500. Do you anticipate a boost in business due to COVID-19?

GC: Although we are receiving a tremendous amount of new requests for our antimicrobial handrail media as a result of COVID-19, the key driver for AdRail’s growth worldwide is primarily due to the exposure we receive from our international tradeshow business and global clients like Amazon, Microsoft and MasterCard. Our international tradeshow clients have given us a platform for exponential global growth. We are, however, expecting a quantified increase in business due to COVID-19, based on demand we’re seeing for our antimicrobial escalator handrail media, which can also be used for public service announcements and other safety messages.

KW: What effect are cancellations of international tradeshows having on AdRail USA?

GC: We’re losing in the short term with the tradeshow business, because almost all of the shows have been canceled until at least the fall. What we’re losing in tradeshows, we’re gaining due to the coronavirus, which means high demand for our antimicrobial film.

KW: Tell me about the antimicrobial coating — its benefits and how it is different from systems such as ultraviolet (UV)-light disinfection.

“What we’re losing in tradeshows, we’re gaining due to the coronavirus, which means high demand for our antimicrobial film.”

GC: Escalator handrails are known to be the third-dirtiest public surface, so this has always been an important component of the fight against germs and our contribution to public safety. UV-light systems are, of course, very effective and safe, and so is our antimicrobial coating. Besides being antimicrobial, our coating goes through a thorough cleaning process prior to installation that removes most viruses and germs. AdRail is a less-expensive option than UV that has other benefits. Studies have shown that the clean appearance of AdRail Escalator Handrail Media encourages up to 70% more people to hold onto the handrail. It’s also a great way to generate advertising revenue on existing equipment with no capital investment. The product can be applied to any escalator model and offers a way to continuously change colors and graphics. The AdRail film material also protects black rubber handrails from vandalism and UV light, which extends equipment lifespan.

KW: Besides Las Vegas casinos and resorts, is AdRail doing business in other, secondary casino markets?

GC: We actually just got contacted last week by an agency in Atlantic City, New Jersey, that was putting together its reopening programs for all the casinos there in which we are now an option. I imagine casinos will request not only the antimicrobial coating, but also COVID-19 messages. We are relaying to everyone we speak with that they can incorporate customized messages to inform passengers the handrail is antimicrobial and encourage them to hold onto the handrails.

KW: How long does the escalator handrail media remain effective?

GC: The antimicrobial benefit will last as long as the film remains on the handrails. For styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) handrails, we guarantee the film for 30 days. However, film can remain on handrails for up to 60 days after installation. For EHC Global’s NT thermoplastic handrails (TPU), we guarantee the film for 60 days. However, it can remain on handrails for up to 90 days. For campaigns of six to 12 months or longer, we change out handrail film graphics as needed on a 60-day basis for SBR and every 90 days for TPU. We use this standard to ensure the quality of our media remains high.

KW: What is your outlook for AdRail USA over the next five years, and what will be the main business drivers?

GC: We expect exponential growth over the next five years as we build relationships with existing clients and grow our network of major venue partners and global brands. AdRail connects brands with their audiences, and delivers a proven return on investment. We believe that, as our product offers value to everyone involved, we will have sustainable growth over the long term.

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