Barkley to Absorb Fellow Kansas City Agency Meers, Launch New Health and Finance Unit

By Patrick Coffee 

Late last week, Kansas City independent agency Barkley announced plans to launch a new “dedicated” unit specializing in clients in the health and finance sectors.

It will do so by absorbing or buying out fellow Kansas City shop Meers, a nearly 25-year-old agency that signed its first health insurance client in 1999 and went on to work specifically with companies in that space, along with the financial industry.

The details of the new relationship were not disclosed. CEO and agency founder Sam Meers will become EVP of Barkley Health & Finance while president Allisyn Wheeler serves as SVP. According to an agency representative, Meers will be absorbed into Barkley as all of its current employees move into the other agency’s headquarters on Main Street in Kansas City by the end of this month.

The deal does not seem to have included reductions or changes beyond the new Barkley executives.

From Barkley president and COO Dan Fromm:

“By 2020, health care spending is projected to be nearly 20 percent of our GDP and there’s an incredible amount of emerging technology in financial services. We see amazing growth and opportunities to connect with modern consumers in both of these areas, and this group will help us build the biggest possible future for our company.”

Barkley has long specialized in food clients like Sonic and Dairy Queen in addition to some apparel brands like Russell Athletic. Meers’ client roster included “several” Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations along with other health care providers like disability service The Whole Person and Kansas City-area institution Lead Bank.

Until very recently, Meers also worked with American Century Investments, which on Friday announced that it had moved its $4.3 million business to Figilulo&Partners after a review.

The specific reasons for the sale were not included in the release, but Barkley has been in expansion mode, acquiring a local consultancy called XperienceLab back in March.

“This is a huge win for our people and our clients,” said Meers. Wheeler added, “The way we’ve orchestrated this is intentional to ensure that our people can make a smooth transition and our clients continue to get the quality and service they expect from us. And the long-term win for our clients is to be able to help them grow by bringing a more diverse skillset and expertise that can help solve their biggest challenges.”