Entrepreneur Spotlight: Joe Gusaas

4 mins read

Every business starts as an idea. These ideas come to life with the efforts made by entrepreneurs willing to take risks and grow their ideas into fully-formed business ventures. From startup innovators to salon founders, every person has a unique passion that they merged with the business landscape. While we couldn’t talk to every inspiring entrepreneur in the Bis-Man area, we talked to some of the many to hear about their unique journeys.

Did You Know?
Gusaas first got his start in the billboard advertising industry by offering portable, neon signs that could be placed virtually anywhere in town.

Joe Gusaas, Owner of Gusaas Signs

Joe Gusaas, Owner of Gusaas Signs, has been operating in the outdoor advertising business for over a decade. Gusaas Signs is an outdoor advertising company that specializes in both static and digital billboards in the Bismarck-Mandan area. Here, Gusaas discusses his journey to the large billboards he has today, the hardest steps, as well as what he’s learned along the way.

1. What was your journey like for you to get to the position you’re at today?

We started Saas Signs, a portable billboard company, in 2011. I wanted to get into the industry with bigger billboards, but couldn’t afford it at the time. We started with one small, homemade portable sign. Soon after, that number grew to two, then we had seven portable signs rented out after the first year. In 2015, we decided to make the leap to larger billboards and sold the Saas Signs company. We then started Gusaas Signs and put up our first static Billboard on Main Street in Bismarck.

During the construction of our first billboard, the City of Bismarck was going through some sign code changes, which forced us to re-evaluate our business plan. After doing so, we continued to lease out the existing space. In 2021, we put up our first digital billboard, also on Main Street in Bismarck. With that project completely operational, we’re proud to announce that Gusaas Signs is launching our newest location at the end of the year. This new location will be another digital billboard located on Main Street in Mandan. We are hopeful this location will prove to be successful and that we will be able to offer more locations in the future.

Did You Know?
The vision of Gusaas Signs all started at a lunch meeting during a work conference. Another gentleman and Gusaas were new to their jobs and discussed business ideas. “He started telling me how he wanted to put a billboard on I-25 near Denver, and that’s where it all started.” – Joe Gusaas

2. Which parts of taking this risk will stick with you forever?

The most memorable moment was my very first phone call for the business. We had our business name and phone number on a small plate fixed to our first portable sign. Not long after setting it out near Advantage Appliance, we got a phone call and the person wanted to rent two signs. At that moment I only had one. After that call, however, I got to work welding two more in my garage for customers.

3. What steps were the hardest when taking the leap to start Gusaas Signs?

The hardest part at the beginning was the overhead cost and the unknown possibilities. I was wanting to enter a space that had been dominated by large companies for years and was told by countless people that I simply could not do what I wanted to do. That was the main reason for starting the portable sign company first before taking the leap into the much larger permanent billboards.

What was a typical day in your life like when you were beginning Gusaas Signs?

My wife Michelle and I were young, just married and looking to start a family. As you can imagine, we were both working full-time to make ends meet. With this business forming, I was working nights and weekends to make it successful. It got to be very busy and stressful at times, but we made it through together. What would you have done differently if you could go back and start again, knowing what you know now? If I could’ve predicted everything that was going to happen back when I was starting, I would have jumped right into the larger billboards right away. After all, that was my dream all along. What advice do you have for readers considering taking this leap? No matter the business you’re running, make sure you do your research, know exactly what you want to accomplish, as well as how you’re going to accomplish it. When you couple that with hard work and persistence, you’re bound to succeed. Taking risks is never easy and can be very stressful sometimes. Being knowledgeable and never giving up is what has proven to be the difference for us.

7. What do most people not know about Gusaas Signs?

We’re still a smaller company and still growing every day, so some people might not even know about us! Every day, we try to spread the word as far as possible about Gusaas Signs and what we’re doing around the community. We’re a truly local company as we’re locally owned and operated. I was even born and raised right here in Bismarck!

8. What’s one thing the local business community could do to help Gusaas Signs?

The response we have gotten from our peers in the local community has been great! Getting our name out into the Bismarck-Mandan area and to the public through word of mouth is huge for us.

9. What is a day in your life like for you now?

I’m just as busy today as I was when we began, as I’m still working full-time and continually trying to expand and operate Gusaas Signs. While we’re excited to be expanding into Mandan this fall, we’re also looking to expand in the near future to other areas within and around the community.

The Latest Update!
Gusaas Signs newest location at 605 E Main St in Mandan is currently complete and accepting new advertising contracts.

Get In Touch

Phone: (701) 391-7591
Email: [email protected]
Website: gusaassigns.com
Facebook: @gusaassigns