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Graphic Arts Advisors Announces Acquisition of Ambit Creative Group by the Fenway Group

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Press release from the issuing company

Mountain Lakes, N.J. – The Fenway Group, Boston, MA, a comprehensive cross-media company providing a range of marketing communications, print, and fulfillment services, has acquired Ambit Creative Group, Cambridge, MA. Graphic Arts Advisors, LLC, Mountain Lakes, NJ, a strategic financial advisory and consulting firm devoted exclusively to all sectors of the graphic communications industry, represented the Fenway Group in the acquisition. John Hyde, Esq. of Graphic Art Advisors served as lead advisor to help Fenway construct a fair offer that met the various objectives of all participants.

The Fenway Group provides integrated marketing solutions for web, print, digital, email, and mobile content. Ambit went to market under two separate but complementary brands--Ambit Creative Group, offering a full range of creative agency services, and The Ambit Works, providing print, marketing, and operations services, including direct mail, fulfillment and logistics, marketing collateral, and management systems.

Fenway's customer base is focused on three main vertical markets: education, healthcare, and nonprofit. Ambit mainly served clients in the education, biotech, and pharmaceutical fields. Although there is some overlap in markets served, the two firms, which operated merely a mile from each other, shared no common customers. The combined, post-acquisition firm, which will operate as The Fenway Group, will serve an expanded customer base and provide clients with services that span the full marketing communications workflow, from concept and design to production and fulfillment.

"All of our growth to this point has been organic, both through gaining new customers and expanding the business we do with existing customers, and we've been fortunate enough to have been growing steadily for the past 10 years or so," noted Rick Sands, who, with partner Todd Nugent, owns The Fenway Group. "When the opportunity to explore acquiring Ambit presented itself, we saw the synergies between the two firms and thought that this might be a great chance to grow through acquisition," Mr. Sands recalled. "Because there was no overlap of clients, each organization bought new clients to the combined company and, by combining our strengths, we further strengthen the level of service we can provide."

The Ambit Group was a father-son owned business. When his father decided to retire, Ambit president Peter Reed decided that his company would have a stronger future by merging with a firm that shared the same customer-focused philosophy and had complementary services but somewhat separate strengths.

"Rick Sands and I have known each other for over 20 years and I knew his company. Both Fenway and Ambit have a strong customer focus," said Mr. Reed. "Both firms offered a full slate of services from concept through production, but Fenway was stronger in some areas than Ambit was and vice versa. The resulting combined firm offers robust, strong solutions all the way through the marketing chain." He explains that Ambit had a dedicated sales team and was strong in upfront project management but was somewhat "production light," while Fenway has state-of-the-art printing capabilities.

Mr. Sands sought Graphic Arts Advisors' guidance in structuring the acquisition. "I know what I know, but I also know what I don't know, and I am not an expert in mergers and acquisitions," he said. "I spoke to a number of people in the industry and they steered me to John Hyde and Mark Hahn of Graphic Arts Advisors, who helped us navigate a number of complex issues involved in the agreement."

As part of the acquisition, the majority of Ambit's staff and management team, including Peter Reed, has joined Fenway in its Boston, MA, headquarters. Mr. Reed will head Fenway's sales and customer services teams.

"Merging cultures after an acquisition is never simple but, in this case, our cultures were not far apart, with both firms operating on a service-based business model," said Mr.Sands. "We're now working to familiarize Ambit's employees with our workflow, our MIS systems, and other processes. We're excited about going forward and bringing strong solutions to our expanded customer base."

"This transaction is a great example of two strong companies coming together to create a regional force to be reckoned with," said Mr. Hyde. "Clearly there was good chemistry among principals leading up to the negotiations, and the strategic fit made a lot of sense."


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