Virginia Shops Agree to Merge

A merger between Work and Just Partners will be finalized in the next few weeks.

The Richmond, Va., shops,operated by Martin Agency veterans Cabell Harris (Work) and Don Just, will be reorganized as Work Inc.

“This combination is not financially structured; it’s a strategic joining of forces” said Just, formerly chairman of Just Partners. “Cabell has built a premium national creative brand. We’ve focused on brand building and marketing.”

Just will serve as chairman and chief executive officer of the new entity; Harris becomes president and chief creative officer.

Combined, the new agency will number 37 employees and account for about $50 million in billings.

Clients include the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Virginia Tourism, Norfolk (Va.) Convention & Business Bureau and kforce, a professional staffing company based in Tampa, Fla.

Harris has run Work as a creative boutique, operating in conjunction with the Ogilvy Syndicate. Recent project work has been completed for Miller Lite, USA Today’s weekend magazine, Kendall- Jackson Wines and The Princeton Review.

“Project based isn’t where I want to be,” said Harris. “Or where the future is. To grow a business you need both strategic and creative firepower.”

Harris also launched Work Beer, a brew now making inroads in the Southeast. He functions as both brand builder and part owner.

Sources familiar with both shops suggest the merger should be a win-win opportunity for both parties. Just, who was a mentor for Harris at The Martin Agency, gains the services of a recognized creative star. Harris, who said his growth has been hampered by the fact he has had to wear “too many hats,” adds management support.

“Cabell would have had to assemble a whole bunch of resources to surround his creative core,” said Just. “With the merger, we can immediately blend these resources in a way that puts us on a different growth trajectory.”

Just and Harris shared office space in the 1990s after both men left Martin. Ironically, the trajectory Just describes will put them in direct competition with Martin.

Harris, who said he will focus on national clients, has joined Just, John Boatright and Joel Constantz in an undisclosed new pitch. “We’re not reaching for the bar,” said Just. “We’re raising it.”