The elevators work hard at Campos Inc.'s office on the Boulevard
of the Allies. The marketing research firm runs two shifts so staff
can work into the evening adding to the list of more than 20,000
people willing to respond to questionnaires. There are also regular
arrivals of those recruited to participate in focus groups in two
rooms tailored for that research.
And now the movement of people through the firm includes a change
in leadership at the top, as founder Yvonne Campos sold the business
at the end of last year to A.J. Drexler, former president and lead
strategist at ad agency Big Picture Communications. Financial terms
"It's all about timing," said Ms. Campos in a recent interview as
she and Ms. Drexler talked about the changes in recent months that
included the absorption of the clients of a longtime competitor,
Station Square-based marketing research firm Direct Feedback -- an
opportunity that turned up in the midst of the Campos transition
Whether it's a response to dramatic changes in how marketing is
being done or an indication of a generational shift in the
Pittsburgh business community, the timing lately has been right for
mergers and acquisitions.
In December, two South Side agencies -- Gatesman+Dave Inc. and
Quest Fore Marketing -- announced plans to create a single agency
under the Gatesman name with more than $13 million in agency revenue
and about 80 people on staff. John Gatesman, Dave Kwasnick and
Shannon Baker would be the principal partners, while Quest Fore CEO
Ken Cuccinelli moved to a consulting role. Quest Fore was founded in
1976, while Gatesman opened in 2006.
A month earlier, Downtown-based agency Fitting Group was absorbed
by Bloomfield small business consulting firm C-leveled, creating a
combined company with about 30 employees. Fitting Group was founded
in 1986 by Andrea Fitting.
Campos was founded in 1986, too, and Ms. Campos had been looking
at exit strategies for a number of years, talking to people in town
about potential deals. "Either the timing wasn't right or the
relationship wasn't right," she said.
This time things did work out. The brand can continue and the
staff of about 15 full-time professionals can keep their jobs. Ms.
Campos is sticking around for a while, too.
Gatesman+Dave began talking with the Quest Fore management about
a possible merger last summer, said Mr. Gatesman. "The more we
talked, the more we started to realize how good a fit this was."
Quest Fore was particularly appealing for its technology group,
which Mr. Gatesman called "a real gem." And clients of QuestFore now
have access to services such as public relations and social media
that Gatesman+Dave offers. …