Greenberg, Davis Join Forces

Greenberg Seronick O’Leary & Partners has merged with DavisPartners to form GSO/Davis, which claims about 45-50 employees and billings close to $65 million.

The Boston agencies are combining operations at Greenberg Ser onick’s Boyston Street of fices without money changing hands. Greenberg Seronick represents approximately two-thirds of the merged shop’s staff and billings.

Tom Davis, president of DavisPartners, becomes executive vp of the merged organization. He will oversee all design and collateral efforts, working with co-creative directors Gary Greenberg and Peter Seronick. Terry O’Leary, chief executive of Greenberg Seronick, will serve as CEO of GSO/Davis. The four principals each hold a 22 percent stake in the new shop; five other owners split the remaining 12 percent.

The principals asserted that the tough economic climate was not their overriding motivation for joining forces. Rather, both agencies believed that adding critical mass and expanding their service offerings was essential for growth.

Greenberg Seronick and DavisPartners ac-crued revenue of $7 million and $3.2 million for 2000, respectively; each projected full-year 2001 revenue flat or down a few percentage points.

The opportunities for agencies of their size to reach the next level “are getting slimmer every year,” said O’Leary. “We needed some of the skill sets Tom and his people offered. This [union] predates the current squeeze and 9/11. We started talking last spring.”

Greenberg Seronick had been looking to add below-the-line creative expertise. Industry consultant Joe Teixiera, a former finance director of Arnold, Boston, and an advi ser to DavisPartners, sug gested the union.

Key clients include Spalding Sports Worldwide and sister grocery chains Star Market and Shaw’s (from Greenberg Seronick), and Fluent Technologies, Solidworks and U.S. Mills (from DavisPartners).

Since the economy soured, there has been one other noteworthy re gional merger. Glastonbury, Conn.-based Cronin & Co. bought Boston’s Wallwork & Curry. Smaller partnerships include a joint venture from Ideate and Extricon (see story on page 5).

Skip Pile, chairman of Boston consulting outfit Pile and Co., said there have been few mergers be cause “most smaller agencies are in deep water by now … within the context of [shrinking] budgets” and “no new business activity.”