LEA looks forward to U.S. expansion
The 10-year-old public and investor relations agency based in Grand Rapids hired its first Los Angeles representative in late 2008 and now is hunting for an acquisition east of the Mississippi, President and Managing Partner Jeff Lambert said.
"We've proven that we can grow organically, and I think we have a track record to really bring that growth to another firm and to grow their business," he said. "And so we want to make an acquisition in 2009."
After integrating two local acquisitions into the company, Lambert said the focus now is outside West Michigan.
"We're really looking at a major metropolitan market and really looking east of the Mississippi at this point," Lambert said. "Part of the opportunity here is we've been, for the last several years, a big fish in a relatively small pond, and we think we want to challenge ourselves to become a small fish in a big pond and go into a larger market. We think it's a great time to be buying."
Lambert did not rule out New York City, although "New York is full of investor relations firms," he noted.
"We have the capital and access to additional capital because of our track record," Lambert said. "That growth and history of year-over-year growth is attractive to lenders. It is a good time, if you are strong, to take advantage of opportunities."
He said he expects revenue "north of $4.3 million" this year, adding that revenue has doubled over the past four years.
Working last year with a Chinese company looking to go public in the U.S. was a "wonderful experience," Lambert said. But "we believe there is ample opportunity domestically," he added.
In 2008, the company recognized its 10-year anniversary, and added 30 percent more square footage to its home in the National City Building to accommodate staff growth and to add a simulated television studio to train clients for interviews.
"We actually created an HD-equipped live media training studio; it's basically a simulated studio environment," Lambert said. "We can do interview settings, a satellite interview, a talk show setting, or kind of live, on-the-scene type scenarios, as well as do podcasting and straight video recording."
The room gives clients a chance for realistic practice, Lambert said. "How better to make it real for them than have a studio of our own? We leased an additional 30 percent more square free to accommodate our people growth and to look at what other services we could provide," he said.