54-Year-Old Indie Joins Phelps Group

LOS ANGELES The Young Co. has merged operations with The Phelps Group, agency officials confirmed.

Bart Young, former CEO at independent shop Young Co. in Santa Monica, Calif., said he has joined crosstown independent The Phelps Group, along with 10 of Young’s 17 employees. Other Young personnel that have joined The Phelps Group include John Dillon, who is vice president, public relations specialist, and Dave Holscher, vice president, who is team leader on the Seiko Instruments and GNP Computers accounts, said Phelps Group president Joe Phelps.

With the merger, Phelps adds $10 million in billings from Young clients, including printer maker Seiko Instruments, GNP Computers, software supplier Candle Corp., Microsemi Corp., investment banking firm Montgomery & Co., construction company Fluor Corp., TDK Semiconductor and Toyo Tires, said Phelps.

“It’s more than a simple growth move, it’s strategic,” said Phelps. “They have a lot of high-tech experience we don’t have, and about half their billings are in PR.”

Phelps now has 73 employees and projects 2003 billings of nearly $60 million. The shop, which has been known as a consumer agency, also counts Petco, Whole Foods Market, Crystal Cruises and the Tahiti Tourism Board as clients.

Young Co. was founded as Speer, Young & Hollander by Bart Young’s father, Doug, in 1949. The shop claims to have been the oldest independent agency in Los Angeles. Bart Young, 52, assumed control of the shop in 1983.

“Bart ran a very creative, service-oriented agency for 20 years,” said Phelps. “The dot-com implosion obviously hurt him. I think high-tech is going to come back strong and having Bart here is good for us and them.”

“It’s a category we’re very strong in, but the market is not just weak—in many cases, it’s gone altogether,” said Young, who is now executive vice president at Phelps. “Companies have left the state or the country.” In recent years, Young Co. had seen a decline in billings. The shop had $10 million in billings in 2002, down from $30 million in 2000, said Young.

This is not the first time Phelps has picked up accounts and staffers from a struggling local agency. Last year, the shop added nine employees and accounts including Whole Foods and Dunn-Edwards Paints from the now-defunct G/F/D/M.

“He has a successful track record integrating shops,” said Young. “Most of the people [from the G/F/D/M merger] are still here and are happy.”