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If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em: ad agency Kirkpatrick Williams Associates acquires Rogers-based Gurley Associates.

WHEN THE LITTLE ROCK-based advertising agency Kirkpatrick Williams Associates established a Fayetteville office in 1991, part of the intent was to gain accounts with such companies as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Hudson Foods Inc. among others.

But agency partner and creative director Kirby Williams says everywhere he tried he kept hearing, "Well, we do business with Gurley."

"We ran into that an awful lot," Williams says of the Rogers-based advertising agency Gurley Associates.

Williams says he and partner Dan Kirkpatrick decided to "take a closer look at what they've got going."

So Williams and Kirkpatrick approached Gurley Associates last fall about acquiring the agency.

The deal was officially signed Feb. 1. Williams will not disclose the purchase price of the agency but says he and Kirkpatrick made a down payment and will pay a percentage of income to the Gurley family for the next five years.

"So how much we'll pay for it ultimately, I don't know," Williams says. "We'll pay an awful lot for it if this really grows."

Gurley Associates, founded by the late Gordon Gurley in 1960, has billings of more than $1 million. It does work for numerous local and regional clients including three Fortune 500 companies in northwest Arkansas.

The agency specializes in package and design work, while Kirkpatrick Williams has more expertise in the creative end.

"This is a good opportunity to sort of marriage two strengths," says Mike Maloney, executive vice president of Gurley.

Maloney says Gurley's clients are more industrial-based, while Kirkpatrick Williams' are more diverse. He says he looks forward to a broader client base along with more creative help.

Kirkpatrick sees the Gurley agency's expertise in production and packaging as "a unique way to get in with some of the larger businesses up there."

Needed More Base

Kirkpatrick Williams had success with its Fayetteville office, which represented 25 percent of the company's $3 million to $4 million in billings.

Financial institutions, including the Sam Walton family's bank holding company, Arvest Bank Group, comprised much of the agency's work in that area.

One of the agency's largest clients in central Arkansas is Central Arkansas Bancshares. Half of Kirkpatrick Williams' work is related to financial institutions.

It also has accounts with Health Advantage HMO, Pearle Vision Express and Mr. Tidy Car Wash, not a large client but one of the agency's more well-known accounts.

However, the agency did not have a history in the northwest Arkansas area.

"You need social contacts and you need a little bit of historical credibility up there," Williams says.

That's why Kirkpatrick Williams Gurley Associates was created.

Kirkpatrick Williams Associates will remain the name of the agency's Little Rock and Hot Springs offices. The five employees of Gurley Associates will stay on with the 12 Kirkpatrick Williams employees.
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Title Annotation:Ty Gurler and Associates; Rogers, Arkansas
Author:Rengers, Carrie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Mar 8, 1993
Words:461
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