VR To Help Knape Attract New Business

Dallas agency Knape is set to relinquish some of its autonomy from parent organization Valentine Radford Communications of Kansas City, Mo., in order to beef up its new business initiatives.
Officials with both agencies said last week that the $170 million Midwest agency will begin lending its strategic planning and media credentials to the fledgling shop’s new business efforts.
Since Knape’s founding last year under VR’s auspices, it has maintained independent operations under president Susan Knape and executive vice president Ted Ingersoll. But the shop’s size–it bills less than $10 million–has hindered pursuit of accounts in the $5-10 million range.
“Our new business efforts will highlight the Valentine Radford backbone of our organization,” said Knape. “I had hoped it would go this way. That’s why I did the deal with VR to begin with–so I wouldn’t have to spend the next five to 10 years of my life walking up that hill.”
Plans call for account service and media teams from VR to pitch alongside Knape’s creative resources. Knape has previously utilized strategy and research services from VR for its own account service needs.
VR chairman and chief executive officer Chuck Curtis said the new arrangement grants his 51-year-old agency the foothold in Texas it has sought.
“It’s a much smaller market [in Kansas City]. We have to go 500 to 600 miles to find clients,” Curtis said. “I’m not sure how much more we can grow in this market.”
Both agencies stress the changes do not mark an end to Knape’s independence. None of VR’s accounts handled in Kansas City, including Pizza Hut franchisees and Sprint, are serviced by Knape.
Knape and Ingersoll, who had worked together at Dallas-based Larkin, Meeder & Schweidel, opened their shop last June with VR’s financial backing. Its recent account wins include software supplier Vectrix Corp. and Pangborn Candy Co.