Maxxcom Shores Up U.S. Presence With Minneapolis Agency

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Colle & McVoy Inc., Minneapolis, owned by Canadian marketing communications group Maxxcom Inc., has bought Mackenzie Marketing, a 3-year-old full-service agency with a roster of Fortune 500 financial clients.

The acquisition of yet another entrepreneurial agency further strengthens Maxxcom's U.S. presence. Maxxcom, part of Canada's MDC Corp., also owns local shops such as Margeotes Fertitta & Partners, New York; Source Marketing, Westport, CT; CyberSight, Portland, OR; TargetCom, Chicago; and Fletcher Martin Ewing, Atlanta.

Founded in 1997 by Andrew and Julie Mackenzie, a husband-and-wife team, Mackenzie Marketing boasts clients such as Bank One Corp., American Express Co., US Bancorp, Wells Fargo, Chase Manhattan Bank, eFunds, Deluxe Corp. and Aegon USA.

A 65-year-old agency, Colle & McVoy offers services such as advertising, direct response, sales promotion, market research, public relations, interactive marketing and media planning and placement. Maxxcom, Toronto, owns an 80 percent stake in the shop.

"We found them to be a very interesting company because they were focused on high-end, financial-services kind of products for some very blue-chip accounts," said Jim Bergeson, CEO of Colle & McVoy. "We also thought they had tremendous potential."

As per the agreement, Mackenzie will continue to run as an independent unit of Colle & McVoy under the supervision of its founders. Mackenzie, with its staff of 35, posted billings of $3.9 million in 1998 and is expected to close this year at $8.5 million.

"We're not out to change them or take them over, but to quietly stand behind them with resources and services to help them get their business to the next level," Colle & McVoy's Bergeson said.

That assurance is what swung the deal in Colle & McVoy's favor.

"My wife and I would not have signed up with a purchaser that would have come in and meddled with us," said Andrew Mackenzie, CEO of Mackenzie Marketing. "To have Omnicom or an Interpublic come in and squash your independence doesn't embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in a company like ours."

"Maxxcom and Colle & McVoy want us to be us while still partnering with us," Mackenzie said.

Colle & McVoy's clients include Caterpillar, Pfizer Animal Health, LaCrosse Footwear, Land O' Lakes, Novartis, 3M, Winnebago Industries, Associated Banks and Weather Shield Windows & Doors. Billings last year were $186 million, with a forecast of more than $200 million for 2000.

While Colle & McVoy will support Mackenzie with technology and infrastructure for better accounting, the smaller shop will offer its purchaser marketing consultancy, public relations, direct marketing and interactive skills. Thus, one provides the back-end expertise and the other provides the front end.

An agency like Mackenzie still needs the clout of a bigger partner to grow to critical size, as Colle & McVoy's Bergeson pointed out. His agency was acquired by Maxxcom in March 1999.

"Having been there, we know what they're going to run into," Bergeson said.

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