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Agrimarketing : May 2009
29 Bader Rutter:32 Feature Story 5/13/09 11:22 AM Page 29 AGENCY UPDATE SECONDGENERATIONATBADERRUTTER S by the AgriMarketing Editors ince its founding 35 years ago, marketing services agency Bader Rutter&Associates has built its business and reputation on a singlemission: deliver breakthrough solutions that build business for its clients. This obsessionwith client service has propelled the firmto its position of being the largest agrimarketing agency in the U.S. for most of the last decade. Along the way, the road to suc- cess for theMilwaukee-based agency has been paved with constant change to stay ahead of client market demands, expanding technologies and a challenging global economy. For Bader Rutter, these dynamic forces have redefined client service and shaped the agency into amultidimensional strategic partner with a robust service offering. “Our clients’worlds have changed,” saysGregNickerson, Chief Executive Officer. “Between increasing demands on theirwork and personal lives, to the intense pressure to showmarketplace results, they requiremore than offthe-shelf solutionswithin a 9-to-5 window.Most of our clients have a global reach, and technology continues to drive entirely newexpectations for solutions.” The agency iswell positioned to facewhat the future brings. In 2008, amid news coverage ofmarketing budget cuts acrossmany industries, Bader Rutter’s revenue reached $22 million, a 15%increase from2007. Part of thismomentumstems from the addition of six newclients and 25 net newhires, bringing total staff size to 160. A Bader Rutter teamreviews a creative platformin a brand strategy session. Participants include (l to r) Rodger Jones, BrandManagement Director; Karen Potratz, PR Group Leader;Mike Fredrick, Creative TeamLeader; TomPosta, AccountManagement Group Leader; Griffin Bungener, Sr. Account Executive; andMark Bjorgo,Management Director. Last year also sawthe completion of a textbook succession plan thatwas a decade in themaking. In December 2008, founder Ron Bader retired from the agency, andNickerson and the management teampurchased Bader’s remaining interest. “Ron alwayswanted to transfer ownership to the employee teamthat helped himbuild the business,” Nickerson said. “He did so in three stages,which allowed for a gradual, seamless transition.” At his retirement party, Bader reminded associates of howthe agency got towhere it is today: “Our secret to success has been delivering results that drive business growth for our clients. Everything fromthe peoplewe hire to the types of serviceswe provide has been done with our clients’ best interests in mind,” says Bader. “The formula has been pretty simple—serve the clients’ needs…not ours.Help our clients growtheir business andwe allwin.” FARMGATE TO DINNER PLATE The second generation of leadership continues thismission of helping clients to succeed bymanaging change BADER RUTTER – HOWIT ALL BEGAN Ron Bader founded the agency in 1974, and shortly thereafter, JimRutter joined him. Previously, he hadworked for Reiman Advertising. An Iowa farmboywith an eye for the agency business, Bader sawan opportunity to improve the creativity of agricultural communications. Early success landed the first two clients: Allis Chalmers and Funk Seeds. Today, Ron andNorma have retired toNewGlarus,WI. JimRutter retired fromthe agency business in 1985 and did consultingwork after that. AM and staying ahead ofmarket trends along the entire value chain—from farmgate to dinner plate.All of the agency’s clients benefit fromexperience leveragedwith such long-standing agricultural clients asDowAgroSciences,Merial, JohnDeere Credit, Mycogen andMosaic. In addition, the agency nowworkswith client organizations such asDairyManagement Inc.,which offers a holistic perspective of food production. Engagedwith clients along the entire value chain, Bader Rutter has watched the relationship between producer and consumer become closer.Not surprisingly, the impact of information technology on agriculture has been significant.According toNickerson,who grewup on an Iowa farm, farmers have always been early adopters of technology, and the digitalworld improves their productivity and efficiency. For consumers, the Internet is increasingly used as a sounding board for their broadening definition of health andwellness. It also allows themto discuss everything from food safety and corporate responsibility to nutrition information and productionmethods. “We’ve seen trends emerge first- hand becausewe’ve been fortunate towork across all segments of food and fiber production,”Nickerson said. “We have responded by broadening our own knowledge base, and by building in-house centers of expertise that are ready to gowhen a need arises.” (more on page 30) May 2009 s Agri Marketing 29
May 2009 Supplement