Harpell/Martins Rides Its High Growth Into California

Technology marketing specialist Harpell/Martins & Co. plans to open a West Coast office next month.
The Maynard, Mass.-based agency will open a five-person outpost in San Jose, Calif., initially to service Internet access provider Netcom On-Line Communications, a recent client addition across town. Foote, Cone & Belding’s San Francisco office handles Netcom’s $7-8 million ad account.
Netcom, which spent some $3.5 million on advertising last year, tapped Harpell/ Martins for collateral, direct marketing and other projects.
Netcom last week agreed to be purchased by ICG Communications, Englewood, Colo. The pending acquisition “only strengthens” Harpell/Martins’ relationship with Netcom, according to agency official Laura Bendon.
Harpell/Martins is currently in the process of signing a lease in San Jose. Agency president Pat Harpell is looking to hire staff to build the new office.
The office will come on line in November and be more than a service office, Harpell said. She expects the outpost to become active in West Coast pitches and provide some creative services to clients.
Media and interactive services, as well as overall agency management, will still be based in Massachusetts, she said.
One of New England’s fastest-growing small agencies, Harpell/Martins is attempting to diversify its technology base and work with a broader range of business-to-business clients. To that end, the agency has picked up the $1 million ad account of United Water, following a review of undisclosed shops. The Harrington, N.J.-based client provides consultation services on water and waste-water treatment to municipalities nationwide.
Harpell/Martins claimed billings of about $24 million at the end of 1996, a 160 percent increase over the previous year. Current billings are around $30 million.