Fletcher Martin Buys McCool

Maxxcom agency Fletcher Martin Ewing has acquired McCool Communications.

The deal between the Atlanta shops takes effect this week, when McCool’s 13 employees move into FME’s downtown facility. The combined staff will total 84.

Maxxcom, a division of Toronto-based MDC Communications, provided financial support to FME, which bought 100 percent of McCool with an earn- out contingent based upon performance. Maxxcom’s goal is to buy midsized shops in targeted cities, then allow those agencies to “tuck in” smaller ad operations.

“This is a great example of what involvement with Maxxcom will allow us to do,” said FME president and CEO Andy Fletcher, who sold 70 percent of his shop to the Canadian network in 1999 for $2.3 million.

Campbell McCool, founder and president of McCool Communications, will become FME’s chief marketing officer.

McCool denied that he had been shopping his agency, but confirmed that he was approached by Maxxcom last fall.

“Nothing came of it until January, when they talked to us about Fletcher Martin Ewing,” said McCool. “We’re in the mid range and for us to pop through, we needed to make some additional investment in infrastructure, which we were willing to do, but then this situation presented itself.”

Sources suggested that McCool would be using the sale as a graceful exit from advertising. “I’ve signed a multi-year contract to work with the agency,” said McCool. “I’ll be reporting to Andy, but I have an extremely active role running the account side of FME.”

McCool said that FME is serious about becoming a dominant agency in the Southeast. “I want to be a part of the leadership of that,” he said.

The addition of McCool’s $20 million in billings elevates FME into the ranks of Atlanta’s larger independently operated agencies. Those shops with more than $100 million in billings include Adair Greene, Fitzgerald + Co., Fricks/Firestone and WestWayne.

Fletcher credited Maxxcom for FME’s inclusion in the current Colonial Williamsburg review and its recent win of SmartSynch, a wireless data provider in Jackson, Miss. “We wouldn’t have done this without Maxxcom,” he said.

McCool represents Precept golf balls, Turner Network Sales and Kimberly-Clark’s technical paper division. FME’s clients include Arbys/RTM Restaurant Group, Mrs. Winners Chicken & Biscuits and Cellular South.