Jack Horner

When Jack Horner launched Jack Horner Communications Inc. a decade ago, he knew a lot of mid-sized client business was slipping by his former employer, Ketchum Inc. He just didn’t know how to get it.

“I thought everybody would call me and give me work,” says Horner.

That’s what Horner, who’d spent five years at Ketchum Inc., had become accustomed to as an account executive.

Horner’s experience at the big daddy of Pittsburgh agencies prepared him well for servicing accounts. Jack Horner Communications, which posted 2001 revenue of $1.7 million, since has collared clients including Alcoa, Microsoft and Heinz, where work on the food manufacturer’s EZ Squirt Funky Purple ketchup earned the agency a Silver Anvil Award, the Public Relations Society of America’s top honor.

But after a few months of sitting by the phone — waiting for the press release he sent out to announce the formation of his agency to bring a flurry of business his way — a long-time friend in the ad specialty business gave him a friendly kick in the pants. She told that him that if he were going to make it in business, he would have to get out and sell his services.

“I didn’t know how to run a business, and I certainly didn’t know how to sell,” says Horner.

Nevertheless, he took the advice and landed his first client, a hotel lounge, with the objective of boosting its patronage on karaoke nights. Later came a much more lucrative account, handling USAir magazine.

The business came, Horner discovered, if he worked at getting it. It seems, though, that he might have gone at it a bit too hard. At one point, he says, he worked his way into the hospital with exhaustion.

That experience convinced him that he had to change his ways. Now he works just as hard at finding time to spend with his family as he does at the agency.

“I realized if it was going to be sustainable, it would have to balance out,” says Horner. How to reach: Jack Horner Communications Inc., www.jackhorner.com