No industry has suffered more at the hand of online classifieds than the newspaper business. The last 20 years have been a painful decline in revenues and influence that will most likely never reverse. Industries that have historically relied on the health of newspapers, such as recruitment ad agencies, have had a similarly tough road.
Placing display ads in the local paper and getting 15 percent of $5,000 is a decent business. Fifteen percent of a $99 job board posting? Not so much. And the result has been a lot of layoffs, office closings, and a serious decline in three-martini lunches.
The ones that have survived the asteroid blast did so with keeping their best talent intact, cutting costs, and focusing on a consulting perspective in an ever-confusing marketplace of technology. Employers are overwhelmed, and the best agencies help them cut through the clutter to select the best solutions. Branding continues to be a sweet spot as well.
It’s no surprise that we’ve seen owners changing hands with many providers over the years. Consolidation is a natural progression, as well, which is why I wasn’t too surprised to see the recent news that Chicago-based Shaker Recruitment Marketing, an agency founded almost 70 years ago and still a family business, acquired The Arland Group, a 10-person shop out of St. Louis.
“These are pivotal days for employers. In this highly competitive employment marketplace, organizations’ talent needs and challenges are more complex, and require increasingly sophisticated strategies and tools,” said Joe Shaker Jr., president at Shaker, and a third generation executive at the agency. “This acquisition is a sign not only of our investment in Shaker’s future and growth, but also of our investment in our clients’ future and growth.”
A company release says the move reinforces Shaker’s commitment to continuous growth in the industry and to delivering robust offerings that exceed client expectations for attracting and retaining top talent.
The Arland Group will take on the Shaker name, and its office will remain in St. Louis. Deb Andrychuk, The Arland Group’s president and CEO, will join Shaker’s leadership team as vice president of client services and remain in St. Louis as office lead. Shaker counts about 100 employees and has additional offices in Tampa, Florida, and Minneapolis.
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“I’m extremely proud of my team and the work that’s come out of our office over the last decade,” said Andrychuk. “We pride ourselves on being advocates for our clients, and we’ve enjoyed wonderful partnerships with some of the largest brands in the world. Shaker and The Arland Group share a similar approach that prioritizes client service and industry expertise. With Shaker’s comprehensive capabilities, we are thrilled for what’s ahead.”
This is by no means a huge acquisition. However, the move does help Shaker move up the food chain. For years, its brand has been somewhat boutique and specialized. “Family-owned” tends to do that. However, it has won some big business lately and looks primed to continue to do so.
The acquisition comes off as a show of strength. It takes one step beyond the likes of NAS and another step toward TMP. One industry insider who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity said they believed this move help Shaker move into the No. 2 spot, “right there with KRT.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.