Hanon McKendry acquires stake in Web specialist Mindscape

September 30, 2008
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Hanon McKendry has acquired an equity stake in World Wide Web specialist Mindscape, giving the 15-year-old Grand Rapids advertising firm in-house Internet design, programming and marketing specialists.

Bob Blanchard, president and CEO of Hanon McKendry, said the move was in response to customers’ increasing focus on and trust in the Web.

“Probably over the last two years, we could not sit at the table with one of our existing clients or involved in acquiring new business where the Internet, digital interactive, was not part of that conversation,” Blanchard said last week.

“We also saw a continued shift in the marketplace where companies and marketers were having more confidence in Internet marketing and they also were putting more dollars toward the Internet. They loved the measurability of it, the ability to track it, and, frankly, they saw some better results than traditional advertising.

“We needed to have a relationship where we could literally be at the table, together, all the time. We wanted to offer a much more integrated service package to our clients, including Gravity Six.”

Enter Mindscape, a seven-year-old Web-focused firm that doubled in size after it moved from Muskegon to Grand Rapids in 2007, said Pete Brand, one of the company’s founders.

“We doubled the staff size when we moved from Muskegon to Grand Rapids” to 12, Brand said, attributing the dramatic growth to better marketing of itself.

All 13 Mindscape employees moved into Hanon McKendry’s offices at 25 Ottawa Ave. SW. Brand and his partner in Mindscape, Paul Ferrier, retain an equity stake. The acquisition occurred in July. Hanon McKendry now employs 40 people, Blanchard said. They declined to reveal the purchase price.

Mindscape now will be known as Mindscape at Hanon McKendry.

With the staff divided by about thirds between design, programming and marketing personnel, Brand and Blanchard said Mindscape offers a unique combination of all three specialties.

“Hanon McKendry would find a firm that would do Web site design really, really well, but would never have anything to do with programming,” Blanchard said. “Sometimes we have to go to another firm that really understands marketing. For us to find Mindscape — that did all three very well — it was really easy for us in making that decision of coming together.”

Born during the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, Mindscape focused on providing customers a return on investment for their Web site investments, Brand said.

An August industry forecast pegged spending growth on alternative media at 17.6 percent annually through 2012. Alternative media is expected to account for 26.7 percent of total advertising and marketing expenditures in 2012. It was 6.9 percent in 2002.

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