Midsize Agencies—Winner: HSR Business to Business

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Location: Cincinnati
Key executive: Rick Segal, CEO
Employees: 130
2006 revenue: $18.1 million
2006 b-to-b revenue: $18.1 million
Key clients: Eclipse Aviation, Hobart Corp., INTEQ/Baker Hughes, Johns Manville, USG Corp.
Major 2006 campaigns: USG, "Down With Dust," print, online, direct, collateral; INTEQ, "Answers While Drilling," print, online, outdoor; Makino, "Lunch and Learn" seminars, microsite, e-mail and direct
Comments: 100% b-to-b agency; increased total revenue by 69% in 2006; won 11 new clients; acquired Brozena & Ripley, Denver; won the Grand CEBA (American Business Media) Award for Eclipse Aviation.

Kate Maddox

HSR Business to Business, which celebrated 25 years in business last year, had perhaps its best year ever in 2006, marked by 69% growth in revenue, 11 new client wins and many other notable accomplishments.

Rick Segal, co-founder and CEO of HSR, likens this growth to what he calls the "bamboo phenomenon."

"There is a story about a bamboo farmer, and he plants a certain variety of bamboo plant and fertilizes it all year but sees nothing," Segal said. "The second year, he repeats the process and sees nothing visible, but all of a sudden in the third or fourth year, the plant grows seven feet tall."

Like the bamboo farmer, HSR has been putting down roots over the past several years to support its phenomenal growth.

"As we came out of the dot-com collapse in 2001 and moved through 2002 through 2005, we had good years; but they could not be described as tremendous growth years," Segal said. "In 2006, our tree exploded out of the ground in a way we could not have imagined."

In 2004, HSR opened a Chicago office, which has grown from a staff of five to 25 people and picked up new accounts including a big win from USG Corp. last year.

Other new client wins last year include Delta AirElite, Flowserve, Hypertherm, Inteq, Kellogg Co.'s trade advertising account, MWH Global and Zebra.

HSR is a 100% b-to-b agency, with other clients including Eclipse Aviation, Hobart Corp. and Johns Manville. Its revenue totaled $18.1 million in 2006, up from $10.7 million in 2005.

The agency launched several new campaigns for clients in 2006. For USG, it created a rebranding effort for Sheetrock joint compound, with the tagline "Down with dust." The campaign included print, direct mail, collateral, online and point-of-purchase displays, and has resulted in increased sales and penetration into the drywall specialty dealer market for USG.

HSR helped machine tool manufacturer Makino reinvent its thought leadership position through a seminar series called Lunch and Learn, supported by e-mail, direct mail and a microsite. The targeted campaign generated more than 300 qualified leads and several high-end machine sales for the client.

HSR won the 2006 Grand CEBA (Creative Excellence in Business Advertising) Award, presented by American Business Media, for a print campaign it created for Eclipse Aviation.

Also last year, HSR strengthened its western U.S. presence with the acquisition of Brozena Ripley & Partners, a 100% b-to-b agency in Denver. It also completed its first assignment with Shanghai Advertising, its Chinese agency partner.

"At a company retreat in January `06, we turned over the leadership of the retreat to the `next-gens' at HSR," Segal said. "They gave everybody in the organization a tiny bamboo sprout and declared 2006 to be a year of growth for the agency."

Now, on desks everywhere at the agency, the tiny shoots have grown into impressive plants that symbolize the agency's success.

  Large Agencies Midsize Agencies Small Agencies Interactive Agencies
Winner McCann Erickson HSR Business to Business Mobium Group Modem Media
Runner-up Ogilvy North America Doremus PJA Advertising+Marketing OTOi
Honorable Mention BBDO New York Slack Barshinger Stein Rogan+Partners Digitas
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