Image Group Buys Chicago Based Ad Agency

April 10, 2002
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HOLLAND— The Image Group recently announced acquiring Chicago-area based Ellens & Associates Inc. and — despite the recession — is seeking to hire new people.

The Image Group (www.imagegroup.com) claims to be the largest integrated communications firm on West Michigan's shoreline.

The company specializes in serving faith-based, education, service and B2B clients throughout West Michigan, Chicagoland, and across the country.

Mark Tanis, who founded the company in 1986, says The Image Group focuses upon providing integrated communication to impact culture.

He explained that by "integrated communications firm," he means the firm provides services ranging from advertising and strategic planning to e-business applications and interactive media.

The company officially acquired Ellens & Associates Jan. 1, a step which formalized a close working relationship between the firms through 2001.

"The move to integrate our two companies was probably one of the easiest decisions we've ever made," said Tanis, the company's senior partner.

"The team at Ellens & Associates is a natural fit with the group we have here in Holland."

He told the Business Journal that The Image Group currently works with more than 125 clients, including Johnson Controls Inc., Gospelcom, Tiara Yachts, Spring Arbor University, Wedgwood, Hillsdale College, Hospice, Young Life and Focus on the Family.

"One of the most exciting moves this acquisition has allowed us to make is to expand our geographical service area," said Dayna Beal, managing partner. "While we have been actively developing our national clients over the past five years, this alliance immediately elevates our presence in a strategic national market.

"We have already begun servicing new clients like Rest Haven of Chicago, Trinity Christian College and Assemblies of God Financial Services Group based in Springfield, Mo.," she added. "These are organizations that we might not have encountered without our relationship with Ellens & Associates."

Beal said while it made good business sense to acquire Ellens & Associates, it was also a good cultural move.

She said the two companies shared the same vision to partner with clients to impact their world through integrated communication and technology, with particular emphasis on serving faith-based organizations.

"We are thrilled to become part of The Image Group," said Tim Ellens, creative partner for the joined companies. "This venture allows us to better serve the clients we have, while allowing us to enter new relationships with our combined capabilities."

The combined company now employs 45 people, seven of whom live in Chicago. Tanis says the acquisition has accelerated the need to bring aboard additional experienced creative people, both in Chicago and Holland.

"Overall we have an excellent team of experienced creative and strategic consultants," Tanis said.

"But new opportunities created by our joining forces will require us to quickly build up our creative team. In fact, we have already launched a search for creative people with outstanding talent and experience across various integrated media."

The acquisition was not the only change The Image Group made earlier this year.

The company also added two new partners to the mix: Mike Morin, who leads the e-business division of the company, and Matt Schlientz, who leads the education division.

Previously, they were senior account managers at the company. Both Morin and Schlientz signed on in January, officially becoming partners with Tanis, Beal and Tim Ellens.

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