How three marketing executives took an Anheuser-Busch spinoff and started Switch

Mike O’Neill, CEO, Switch

Mike O’Neill, CEO, Switch

STL Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Finalist

 

Mike O’Neill

CEO

Switch

 

John Nickel

President

Switch

John Nickel, president, Switch

John Nickel, president, Switch

 

Kevin Quigley

Executive vice president

Switch

 

In early 2002, Anheuser-Busch communicated its interest in selling Busch Creative Services to the management team of Mike O’Neill, John Nickel and Kevin Quigley. On Oct. 16, 2002, the three consummated the purchase, naming the company Switch.

Switch: Liberate Your Brand, is an independently held, experiential marketing agency, locally owned in equal shares by O’Neill, CEO, Nickel, president, and Quigley, executive vice president. The three partners believe breaking off from Anheuser-Busch greatly helped them focus more on the business, the employees and its customers.

Kevin Quigley, executive vice president, Switch

Kevin Quigley, executive vice president, Switch

Though the company had more than $30 million in revenue and offices in Chicago, Seattle and Atlanta, 80 percent of revenue was from Anheuser-Busch. Immediately following the acquisition, and to ensure long-term stability, the owners set their sights on drastically diversifying and growing their client base.

Recently celebrating their 10th anniversary as an independent agency, Switch ended the 2012 fiscal year posting the best financial year in the company’s 32-year history. 2012’s sales showed a 15 percent increase over 2011 but even more impressive is that 2012’s sales were 32 percent above 2010 sales. During this same time, Switch also increased its full-time staff to 130 from 90 and its field marketing staff to 1,300 from 600 across the U.S.

The company has very successfully diversified its client base with only 12 percent of its current revenue coming from Anheuser-Busch. Thanks to the addition of clients like 5-hour Energy, Elsevier, Covidien Health, Essence Healthcare, Clif/Luna, Muscle Milk, Coca-Cola, Primerica, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, blu eCigs and Junior Achievement, Switch has grown into a nationally recognized experiential marketing powerhouse.

In 2010, Switch consolidated six U.S. office locations into a single St. Louis facility, putting the agency’s creative/strategic, administrative, operational, experiential, digital and design departments, print/screen shop, motion graphics and fabrication studios all under one roof.

In celebration of its 10th anniversary of independence, Switch ownership created a roadmap for the next 10 years of business growth.

How to reach: Switch: Liberate Your Brand, www.liberateyourbrand.com

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