Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the
May 2, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Entrepreneur of the Year: On the Move Again
Lawrence Krampf hopes to have his employees in bathing
suits by Memorial Day. The president of Princeton Communication Group
is set to move his 33-person marketing firm into a 1702 farmhouse
at 88 Orchard Road that combines history with a high-tech,
addition, plenty of parking, a pond, and, yes, a swimming pool. Krampf
is in the final stages of negotiating the purchase of the unique
space, last occupied by American List Counsel, despite the fact that
he senses the real estate market has reached a peak. "I
he says, cheerfully enough, though he declines to name the figure
on the table.
Krampf, who founded PCG in 1980, says he has long been attracted to
the property. He and Donn Rappaport, founder of American List Counsel,
have been doing business together for years. Krampf’s firm does the
creative back end work for Impower, the American List Counsel spinoff
that specializes in Internet direct marketing, and his is the agency
of record for American List Counsel itself. Krampf has been at 20
Nassau Street, where he leases 5,500 square feet, since 1990. It is
time for a move, he says, because his agency is growing, and "you
can’t get a much larger space downtown." Billing $30 million a
year now, Krampf’s goal is to be at "50 people, doing $50
within three to five years.
PCG’s new headquarters contains some 16,000 square feet, including
carriage houses. The agency will occupy 12,000, and lease the rest.
Very little work needs to be done, Krampf says, just minimal painting
and the purchase of some furniture for conference rooms. But he does
want to get the pool open as soon as possible.
Krampf started his business, originally Krampf Communications, in
the early-1980s. In recognition of his success in growing the company,
and in taking leadership roles in community organizations, the Chamber
of Commerce of the Princeton area is awarding him its Entrepreneur
of the Year award at a luncheon on Thursday, May 3, at 11:30 a.m.
at the Doral Forrestal. Cost: $33. Call 609-520-1776.
When Krampf first set up shop, four years after he graduated from
Rutgers (Class of 1980), New Jersey was an advertising backwater.
A native New Jerseyan, he was clear on one thing — he would not
commute to New York City, the epicenter of the advertising world.
His father spent 30 years commuting between Somerset and Manhattan,
where he was an owner of Wormser Hats. "My dad died at 60,"
Krampf says. "Part of that was the commute. I was never going
to do that."
So he set up shop in New Brunswick, near Rutgers where he got his
first taste of advertising as the business manager of the Targum,
the student newspaper, which he was instrumental in separating from
the college and turning into Targum Publishing. His first client was
McDonald’s, which he approached with a direct marketing idea for its
Morristown stores. The chain liked the idea, and retained him to
it throughout the East Coast. Then Krampf — and the entire nascent
New Jersey advertising industry — got a break.
"Merrill Lynch came," he says. "And they wanted to use
a local agency." That was the beginning of the Central Jersey
corporate boom, and many of the newcomers did want to give local
a chance. The boost got Krampf’s agency off to a good start, giving
it a shot at the newly relocated corporations. Over the years, native
New Jersey companies sprung up in the soil made fertile by the
giants. Krampf points to biotech Pharmacopeia as an example. That
company first retained PCG at about the same time that it added its
It soon became clear that the "nobody comes to New Jersey"
mindset among companies shopping for marketing services was passing.
PCG was in the state to stay. Krampf moved his agency from New
to Somerset, and then, 11 years ago, to Princeton. He lived in
— home of his new offices — for many years, and moved to
three years ago. His wife, Vicki, has a background in the theater,
and works on event marketing for PCG. The couple have three children,
Katie, 9, Juliana, 7, and Tyler, 3.
But while the Garden State can be an excellent home, and a fine place
from which to plan marketing strategies for multi-national
Krampf admits that for some clients nothing but the Big Apple will
do. That is at least part of the reason he is now completing a merger
with the Hirschman Group, a six-employee agency with offices on 27th
Street in Manhattan. "Some clients just want a New York City
he says. The merger brings PCG advantages beyond big city prestige,
though, he says. Hirschman, whose name will change to PCG at about
the same time it becomes warm enough to enjoy that pool, brings the
company niche expertise in broadcasting, as well as radio and
The merger also delivers management talent. Ray Hirschman has just
assumed the role of president of the combined company, and Krampf
is now serving as CEO. "It frees me to take a more visionary
he says. As he envisions the directions in which he wants his company
to go as it moves to the next level, Krampf, in his role as the
Chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year, has this advice for other
business his biggest expense was for printing presses. He needed
too, and people to paste up ads. "The Mac changed everything,"
he says. Not only were production methods altered, but the whole
of ad agencies had to be reinvented as the mix of skills required
to keep the shops running shifted dramatically. "Then in the ’90s,
the Internet changed everything again," he says. Entrepreneurs
need to see trends coming, and to reinvent themselves quickly.
in recent years. Many of them for a really short time. "We had
New Jersey National Bank for two weeks," Krampf says. Then, like
so many New Jersey banks, it was purchased. One after another, its
banking clients are being gobbled up, and then, as often as not, the
new parent is itself folded into a larger bank. This is just one
that Krampf says, "I don’t want any one account to own us."
To that end, the company has developed clients in a number of
including health care, pharmaceutical, technology, biotech, financial
services, and insurance, and is growing its consumer products
bookkeeper, worked for PCG for 10 years. Now retired and living in
Toms River, she gave her son this advice: "Sales are great, but
you have to collect the money." And while Krampf says he is
to grow his client roster only with solid companies, he says "it’s
more than just money." Entrepreneurs, he says, should walk away
from business if the work is not right for them. In his view,
the integrity of the product is the most important ingredient of
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