Although a final decision for the Ohio Department of Development's small ($3-4 million) but prestigious state tourism business won't come down for another week or so, officials close to the state say Fairlawn, Ohio-based Soltis Hardman & Partners is at least the front-runner in the competition.
Tim Kaufman, marketing manager for the state, said last week that the review had been narrowed to one agency, and that the state was going through the normal negotiating process on compensation. He said a decision may be announced by the end of this week, but declined to name the finalist.
Soltis partner Dennis Soltis wouldn't comment and referred calls to the state.
But insiders said last week that Soltis has at least the creative portion wrapped up. It was a surprise to many agency observers, many of which have never heard of the agency, which started almost 18 months ago after six executives from the former Hesselbart & Mitten agency decided they would rather open up their own shop than accept the agency's merger with cross-town rival Meldrum & Fewsmith.
Starting with no clients and non-compete clauses, Soltis and partner Michael Hardman began the operation in neighboring Fairlawn, and began trying to garner anything. The aggressiveness is beginning to pay off. In that short time, the agency of 12 people has harnessed roughly $10 million in business with some small accounts from rather high-profile companies: 3M, Kendall Motor Oil, and Dutch Boy. Since they are stuck with non-compete clauses with its former agency employers, everything has been done by cold calling.
Soltis is battling W.B. Doner/Cleveland; Young Isaac Bedway, Columbus; Team Ohio (a combination of Flynn Sabatino/Miamisburg, Ohio, and Conrad, Phillips & Vutech, Columbus); Wolf Blumberg Kody, Cincinnati; and Penny/Ohlmann/Neiman, Dayton. Hammeroff will most likely retain the tele-marketing portion of the business.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)