Eastern Iowa Advertising Agencies Merging

By George Ford, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Two well-established Eastern Iowa advertising agencies are merging into a single entity on April 1.

Henry Russell Bruce and ME&V Advertising and Consulting on Monday announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge. Amperage, the combined company, will have more than 50 people with offices in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Bettendorf.

Amperage will bring together Jim Thebeau, CEO at HRB and Steve Erickson, president and executive creative director at HRB, with Bryan Earnest, ME&V partner and president, Jim Infelt, ME&V partner and creative director, and Mark Mathis, ME&V partner and director of cool.

Dee Vandeventer, ME&V partner and director of operations and fundraising, is selling her ownership share in ME&V and retiring from agency management. Vandeventer will continue working as a fundraising adviser for the new organization.

Amperage will represent more than 200 clients across 10 states and offer branding, marketing, public relations and advertising services in healthcare, higher education, banking, corporate communications and non-profit fundraising. Combined capitalized billings at the close on April 1 are anticipated to be $33 million.

"Business is moving toward more integrated marketing and communications," Earnest said in a statement announcing the merger. "This merger empowers us to better execute traditional and digital communications with clients who need deep expertise and expanded bandwidth to stay competitive in this cluttered marketplace.

"It also allows us to target prospects outside our current markets."

Even though a major benefit of merging is economies of scale, Amperage is positioning for growth and future expansion.

"We are not planning any downsizing due to the merger. In fact, if anything, we'll be hiring,"Earnest said. "We are positioned for growth and we plan to merge with two more agencies in order to accelerate growth and enhance our capabilities."

The merger will create one of the largest advertising agencies in Eastern Iowa. It also will be one of the largest fundraising-consulting firms in Iowa with more than $100 million raised for nonprofits during the last 15 years.
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