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White Way Sign Files For Bankruptcy

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 20, 2014 5:30PM

White Way Sign, the 98-year-old company responsible for some of Chicago’s most iconic marquees, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week. The company lists $10 million in assets against $50 million in liabilities.

Irish Immigrant Thomas Flannery founded White Way in 1916, taking its name from the “Great White Way” nickname of New York City’s theater district. Over the ensuing decades White Way had a hand in the design and maintenance for marquees and signs such as the Chicago Theatre, Oriental Theatre, Wrigley Field, the Riviera Theatre, Navy Pier, and the scoreboards at U.S. Cellular Field and the United Center.

White Way sold its manufacturing plant on North Clybourn and moved from Chicago to Mount Prospect in 2007 to focus more on maintenance. The dropoff in new construction projects following a Great Recession and loss of existing customers were major factors in White Way’s descent into bankruptcy. The filing lists the Sheet Metal Workers' National Pension Fund, which is owed $850,000. Jim Morgan, the attorney representing White Way, expressed confidence the company would come out of the filing stronger than ever. "We just need to retool and we will continue to provide the same service."