Text 100 was founded in 1981 by two very different people. For 18
years Mark Adams has been the group’s public face, while Tom Lewis has
remained in the shadows. Adams is the one with that indefinable PR
touch, the outgoing, charismatic half of the partnership, whose job it
has been to woo and counsel the clients. Lewis gave up consulting two
years after the agency was founded, and has concentrated ever since on
managing its growth.
In the run-up to Text 100 Group’s flotation last month, the long
established dynamic between its founders was reversed. This summer
Adams, who did not want to be a plc director, stepped down from the
board. Meanwhile, Lewis, as chairman, has taken Text from Ofex on to the
London Stock Exchange and presided over one of the market’s most
successful PR business listings.
Text’s shares were valued at 30p when it joined Ofex in March 1997; they
reached pounds 5.40 last month.
’I’ve suddenly sort of popped out of the woodwork, if you like, because
Text 100 is now the size where I can start to make some exciting things
happen,’ says Lewis. He seems to be blinking a little in the
Despite his unashamedly eccentric get-up - he has for years paired his
suits with a collection of 25 matching bow-ties and braces - he is
reserved and camera shy (hence the more sober image above). Despite a
passion for politics which led him to campaign actively for the
Conservatives, he claims to have few interests outside work. One
colleague describes him as focused and intelligent, but aloof.
Lewis studied German and French at Southampton University before joining
Associated Newspapers in 1979 to sell advertising. In 1980 he joined
Interco Business Consultants, an agency run by Chris Codrington, whom
Lewis describes as the father of technology PR.
He met Adams at Interco - when he interviewed him for a job. With a few
important things in common - German mothers and the desire to build a
Europe-wide technology PR business - the two decided to join forces and
strike out on their own. They pooled what remained of their last month’s
salaries, about pounds 450, and got going.
Lewis recalls: ’Text was as humble a start-up as they come. We had
We had a round table in the front room of a house in Raleigh Road,
Richmond, we had no business on day one, we had no money, we didn’t even
have a typewriter.’
Adams’ father was a salesman for IBM, which at the time was
manufacturing electronic typewriters. He would deliver a machine to
Raleigh Road late in the evening, leaving it for the two entrepreneurs
to type away at furiously until the next morning, when it would be
carted off to show to a client.
Lewis is keen to emphasise the agency’s humble beginnings, because he
has grown Text to its current pounds 23 million turnover organically.
Apart from its initial pounds 450 cash injection, the agency has never
had more than a bank overdraft to fund its expansion. Lewis has always
shied away from acquisitions, seeing them as too risky.
He prefers to use his money to motivate staff. About 13 per cent of
Text’s shares belong to its employees. He is particularly keen on what
he calls the concept of dignity for senior staff. ’Young people want
parties and cars, and people in their thirties and forties want
financial security for children, roofs over their heads; a lot of our
industry still doesn’t provide that.’
Text staff also play a big part in its growth. Susan Grant, who left
eight years ago to co-found technology agency Grant Butler Coomber
(GBC), says Text gave her the experience she needed to run her own
’Both Mark and Tom are great at being hands-off managers,’ she says.
Lewis encourages consultants to launch their own businesses under the
group’s umbrella. August.One Communications, Bite, Joe Public Relations,
Evus, Extra PR in Germany and Brand X, a web marketing business, have
all been launched since 1995.
Lewis is unusual in that most of the great agencies have been founded or
are headed by star practitioners. His interest has been in creating a
high-worth business. Text began its international expansion in 1989, and
is now one of the world’s three largest technology agencies. A mark of
his success is that Hill Samuel, Schroder’s and Gartmore were among 28
institutional investors queuing to buy its shares when it launched on
Today there are only three genuinely international PR networks
originating in the UK - Shandwick, Citigate and Text. Perhaps this is
because PR is still regarded as a lifestyle, rather than a money making
industry in the UK. But as Lewis the businessman takes over from Adams
the PR man as the public face of Text, the group’s success may convince
other agency founders to aim a little higher.
Co-founded Text 100
Text 100 Group lists on Ofex
Text 100 Group lists on London Stock Exchange