WASHINGTON: The partners at transportation PR specialist firm Stratacomm have reacquired majority ownership and control of the agency from FleishmanHillard, which bought the consultancy a decade ago.
The equity transaction closed earlier this year. After a brief transition period, Stratacomm’s partners are independently managing and operating the agency.
"With Stratacomm’s partners buying back the firm’s ownership, it allows us return to our entrepreneurial roots," said John Fitzpatrick, the agency’s co-managing partner. "FleishmanHillard has been a valued partner and remains a passive minority shareholder under this restructuring agreement."
Fleishman acquired majority ownership of Stratacomm in March 2004 with Stratacomm partners retaining a minority equity stake at the time.
Representatives from Fleishman were not immediately available for comment.
The firm’s ownership restructuring will not affect Fleishman’s work with its clients, which include automaker General Motors, according to Fitzpatrick.
"Stratacomm was then, and remains now, a separate company from FleishmanHillard," he said.
Dave Senay, president and CEO of FleishmanHillard, said the reacquisition was "100% amicable on both sides."
"We are very supportive of this move by Stratacomm, as is [holding company] Omnicom. This plays into a strategic move to position Stratacomm in the small-business sector as a premier provider of services, and that makes a lot of sense given the way spending has evolved to support small businesses," he said. "As such, we will remain a long-term network partner of Stratacomm and view this move as an innovative and unique approach to the market."
In conjunction with the reacquisition, Stratacomm has also promoted Travis Austin to senior partner and appointed Kristin Calandro Tyll as the agency’s newest partner. Austin has joined co-founder Ron DeFore, Fitzpatrick, and co-managing partner Bill Buff as senior partners and Sharon Hegarty, Charlotte Seigler, and John Undeland as a partner.
DeFore’s fellow co-founders, Diane Steed and Jeff Conley, are senior advisers to the firm.
Last July, Norfolk Southern tapped Stratacomm as its PR AOR, and in early 2012, Nissan North America selected the firm as its corporate AOR. Previously, Stratacomm was Chrysler's AOR for corporate communications from 2003 to 2009. The firm also previously worked in AOR roles for Mitsubishi from 2004 to 2006 and Smart USA from 2007 to 2010.
Stratacomm’s main practice areas include transportation, energy and environment, infrastructure, and public health and safety.
This story was updated on April 8 with comment from Stratacomm and from Senay.