A couple of weeks ago, I was at a dinner in New York and realized I left my laptop at the office. It was 10 p.m., but I needed to go back and get it. We had just recently moved into our stunning offices at One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower. As I walked into our space on the 69th floor, I stopped dead in my tracks and looked out the window at the dazzling Manhattan skyline. It’s difficult to capture 20 years of memories into one moment, but that quintessential view did it.
We launched Allison+Partners 20 years ago on September 4, 2001. Andy Hardie-Brown and I created the company in a small alley in San Francisco, where we sketched out on a napkin an idea for the best agency. We were probably somewhat naïve when we jotted down our aspirations and hopes for a new kind of agency – one focused on doing great work and treating people well.
With high hopes, and very little money, the company opened for business one week before 9/11. The launch has always had its ties to that fateful day in New York. I remember sitting in our first small office and watching replay after replay of planes smashing into buildings. It was an auspicious beginning, and it kicked off a tremendously difficult 18 months as we looked to hold our tiny company together as our nation came to grips with the tragedy and a new War on Terror.
We didn’t open our New York office until 2003. But we have a strong affinity for the city, and it’s always been part of our identity. Our first office was a dingy, non-descript place in the theater district that’s about as far away from One World Trade Center as you can get.
Over the last 20 years, our agency persevered through a difficult start, a dot-com crash, the Great Recession, a global pandemic, civil unrest, and the Great Resignation. We never wavered. We stayed focused on the core values that built our company. Like the Freedom Tower, we kept building and never gave up.
Andy and I are often asked, “Did you see the company getting to be this big?” I did not. In the earliest days, we just hoped to have a strong presence in the U.S. and to simply survive. However, the culture resonated around the globe. The company has been propelled by a dedicated team that believed in doing great work and treating others well. We also had so many wonderful clients that have given us the chance to be a part of their teams. From Beijing to London to New York, with 32 markets around the world, the Allison+Partners culture is alive, well and thriving.
Whether you are someone who spent a few months with our company, or close to 20 years, we’re grateful for the contributions you made to our success during our first two decades. If you’re one of those early clients that took a chance on us 20 years ago, we appreciate you more than will ever know. If you’re one of today’s clients that has given us a chance to expand with you around the globe, we thank you!
Here’s to the next 20 years!
Scott Allison is global chairman and CEO of Allison+Partners, one of the fastest-growing global communications firms in the industry. Known for its unique culture, Scott founded Allison+Partners with a vision to build a positive and entrepreneurial environment where talented people at all levels could do great work and thrive.