Stamats buys Minneapolis brand agency

Company had annual revenues of $25 million

George Ford
Published: February 26 2014 | 12:30 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:11 am in

As traditional colleges and universities face competition from for-profit schools, Stamats has taken a step to help them raise their profile.

The Cedar Rapids higher education marketing and research firm on Wednesday announced the acquisition of The Thorburn Group, a Minneapolis brand agency serving clients such as Disney, Harley-Davidson, Target and Porsche.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Guy Wendler, president and CEO of Stamats, said the merger will allow Stamats to offer a broader range of services to colleges and universities as they seek opportunities amid dramatic change that has disrupted the traditional educational business model.

"Traditional colleges and universities are facing a perfect storm of challenges,” Wendler said. “They have been hit simultaneously by unfavorable demographic trends, higher scrutiny of the cost of higher education and increasing competition from alternative education delivery systems.”

Wendler said the trends are only expected to intensify.

"We’re elevating our focus on branding to help schools use this unprecedented period of change to strengthen themselves, focus on value and better connect with their students and communities," Wendler said.

Bill Thorburn, president and founder of The Thorburn Group, said the merger creates a powerful combination.

"Stamats brings a wealth of knowledge in higher education," Thorburn said. "Our firm brings leading-edge brand creative and extensive consumer brand marketing."

The Thorburn Group’s brand clients also include National Geographic, Polaroid, American Standard and Haggar. The agency, founded in 1994, will retain its name and Minneapolis office, operating as a business unit within Stamats.

The Thorburn Group will continue to serve consumer brands in addition to colleges and universities through Stamats.

Stamats was founded in 1923 as a promotion and advertising agency for Midwest retail stores. The company has worked in higher education research and marketing for six decades.

Stamats has annual revenues of $25 million and 140 employees with its headquarters in Cedar Rapids and an office in San Francisco.

Current and recent clients include the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Florida International University, Grinnell College, Wagner College and College of Mount St. Vincent.

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