CRT purchases Patrice Tanaka & Co.

RICHMOND, VA: Carter Ryley Thomas Public Relations & Marketing (CRT) has acquired New York consumer PR agency Patrice Tanaka & Co., creating a firm with $10.5 million in combined annual revenues.

RICHMOND, VA: Carter Ryley Thomas Public Relations & Marketing (CRT) has acquired New York consumer PR agency Patrice Tanaka & Co., creating a firm with $10.5 million in combined annual revenues.

The new firm, to be called CRT/Tanaka, will be headquartered in Richmond with offices in New York; LA; Charlotte, NC; and Norfolk, VA. Terms of the transaction, which closed September 30 and was announced last week, were not disclosed.

"This is a first major step toward building a unique $20 million-$30 million agency with competitive specialties in specific consumer, health, and corporate categories," said Mark Raper, who will serve as chairman and CEO of the company.

Patrice Tanaka will be vice chairman and chief creative officer. Mike Mulvihill, CRT president and cofounder, will serve as president of CRT/ Tanaka.

PT, whose clients include Mercedes-Benz USA, Target, and Charles Schwab, was founded in 1990 when Tanaka and three other colleagues waged a successful management buyback of the PR subsidiary from parent TBWA/Chiat/Day.

"Over the years, PT has had the opportunity to be acquired about 20 times," Tanaka said. "Because we were committed to remaining independent, we couldn't see ourselves in most of those cases being part of another company's organization. But when [CRT] approached us, it was the first time that we actually seriously considered any offer."

The merger combines CRT's strong base in various b-to-b sectors with PT's lifestyle and cause-related marketing expertise. "It just seemed like everything was complementary and there was nothing that would really stand in the way of us doing this deal," she said.

CRT, one of the Southeast's largest independent PR firms, has 50 employees. The combined company will have 72.

Raper, who said the two firms started seriously discussing a deal about a year ago, noted that it was important for CRT to gain a foothold in New York.

"For years, we told our prospects and clients that we could provide the highest caliber PR without being in New York," he said. "We still think that we demonstrate that. But we have all along understood that New York is the centerpiece of our industry. It's really an important step for us."

Beyond the PT deal, the company's expansion strategy will involve "a lot of organic growth and some incremental acquisitions," said Raper.

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