Stringer: Making Business Work

Investment in CD Amicangelo Reaps Rewards for B-to-B Shop
BOSTON–Advertising professionals whose memories date to the 1980s may recall Schneider Parker Jakuc, Gray Strayton International and Giardini/Russell. These were shops not known for the sharpness of their creativity but respected for the effectiveness of work in the business-to-business and industrial sectors that then fueled the local economy.
Among the alumni of these shops is Mike Stringer, who runs a small business-to-business agency in Burlington, Mass. In some ways, Stringer is looking to reinvent what those 80s-style shops did. Creativity is what he hopes will set him apart from larger, better-known players that in recent years have established themselves creatively on the same turf: Allen & Gerritsen and Harpell/Martins & Co. to name just two.
Two years ago, Stringer recruited John Amicangelo as creative director. Amicangelo has worked for numerous Boston-area agencies, including McGlinchey & Paul, DRK, Duval Woglom and Pamet River Partners, but he believes he has finally found in Stringer an agency chief who is compatible with his ambition and style.
The agency’s commitment to Amicangelo was tested from the beginning. He arrived at the start of what became two of the worst consecutive quarters in Stringer’s 14-year history. The so-called Asian flu had infected two of Stringer’s largest clients, including flagship Analog Devices which cut spending. The agency could no longer afford a pricey creative director; but instead of letting Amicangelo go, the duo rewrote the business plan and set about prospecting for business outside electronics component manufacturers, which in effect broadened their base and made them less reliant on a single sector.
Now, with 23 employees and work the agency proudly displays for such clients as Analog, eXcelon Corp., TechOnLine, and White Pine Software, Stringer believes his shop is well positioned in the business-to-business space. It reported a 14 percent increase in billings to $12 million and gross profits of $1.9 million, of which roughly 86 percent comes from advertising, Stringer said.
While eager to capture the millions of dollars being spent on marketing by Internet companies, it is being careful to avoid Internet startups. “We’re hedging our bet by working with companies that are successful and not merely rolling the dice for a one-time shot,” Stringer said. K