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Ad agency with nearly $15M in sales finds buyer


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  • | 5:28 p.m. April 13, 2017
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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LAKEWOOD RANCH —One of the largest advertising, marketing and public relations firms in the Sarasota-Bradenton region, Grapevine Communications, has a new owner.

The founders, husband-wife team Angela Massaro-Fain and John Fain, had been working on an exit strategy for close to five years, says Massaro-Fain. They rejected at least two suitors. Then they found the right fit close by in Allison Imre Perkowski — a former sales rep and event promoter for iHeartMedia and iHeartRadio in Sarasota.

Imre Perkowski, 39, assisted Lakewood Ranch-based Grapevine at the radio station for ad placements, and she and Massaro-Fain have known each other for a decade. Massaro-Fain will remain with the company, on the board and as creative director. John Fain will remain with the firm on a short-term adviser contract. Financial terms of the deal, which took a year to come together, weren't disclosed.

“It was really important that we sold it to someone I trust,” says Massaro-Fain, “and someone with a vision to grow Grapevine.”

Grapevine had $14.33 million in revenues in 2016, up 3.6% from $13.81 million in 2015. Founded in 2002, it has 15 employees. The firm's clients vary widely, and include law offices, nonprofits, real estate firms and senior living developers. Grapevine also has a large portfolio of area “Best of” awards from local publications.

Often with a firm of that size and stature, a bigger out-of-town company will buy it to gain entry into a new a market. And Massaro-Fain says the two potential buyers she and John Fain rejected fit that mold. “We didn't want to grow geographically and we didn't want someone who didn't know our brand,” Massaro-Fain tells the Business Observer in an interview.

John Fain adds that he believes Imre Perkowski's youthfulness will be an advantage for Grapevine. “She brings an energy level that can take us to a different place,” Fain says.

Imre Perkowski, with iHeart from 2007 through April, says she's humbled by the opportunity to steer Grapevine. “I'm buying a firm with an unbelievable reputation,” says Imre Perkowski. “If I was going to take this leap, there are no other coattails I'd rather ride than with Angela and John.”

 

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