Harte-Hanks Acquires Direct Marketing Associates

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Harte-Hanks has added capabilities and clients in the government and nonprofit sectors with the acquisition yesterday of direct mail printer and lettershop Direct Marketing Associates, Baltimore, MD.

DMA is the first acquisition of 1999 for Harte-Hanks, San Antonio, TX, but not the major deal that industry watchers are expecting from the emerging consolidator in the database and marketing services areas. Although financial details were not disclosed, CEO Richard Hochhauser said the latest purchase is similar in size to one and larger than another of the three acquisitions Harte-Hanks made last year. DMA has over 400 employees and gross annual revenues in excess of $20 million.

DMA adds back-end production and mailing capabilities to Harte-Hanks front end list selection, database management and analysis services, said DMA president Ken Boone. His company performs laser personalization of direct mail at its 360,000-square foot facility and offers comingling and drop ship mailing to enhance clients' postage rates.

Harte-Hanks maintains a mail plant focusing on retail clients in Baltimore and will look to integrate complimentary services with DMA.

Boone said becoming part of Harte-Hanks will insure DMA's long term growth and enable it to go after larger clients with a more sophisticated sales effort.

"We have been competing in the major leagues for direct mail for some time now but we've been competing as a minor league team with just one facility,'' he said.

One major resource that Harte-Hanks lacks is proprietary data, but Hochhauser said "being at arms lengths from data suppliers'' is a viable strategy and thus the acquisition of a data provider is not a necessity.

Paine Webber senior vice president Jack Clarke described Harte-Hanks as cash rich but disciplined in its approach to potential deals. "They are financially astute and are not interested in doing something just because they have a lot of cash,'' Clarke said.

Clarke views the DMA purchase and last year's smaller purchases as positive since they add capabilities and new clients.

Harte-Hanks also announced last week that its Data Technologies unit will be building a relationship marketing database for Volvo Cars of North America, Rockleigh, NJ.

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