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,

glass-walled

addition, plenty of parking, a pond, and, yes, a swimming pool. Krampf

is in the final stages of negotiating the purchase of the unique

office

space, last occupied by American List Counsel, despite the fact that

he senses the real estate market has reached a peak. "I

overpaid,"

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

million"

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

implement

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

talent

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

corporate

giants. Krampf points to biotech Pharmacopeia as an example. That

company first retained PCG at about the same time that it added its

third employee.

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

Brunswick

to Somerset, and then, 11 years ago, to Princeton. He lived in

Skillman

— home of his new offices — for many years, and moved to

Hopewell

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

corporations,

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

office,"

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

television

studios.

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

role,"

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

Princeton

Chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year, has this advice for other

entrepreneurs:

Be Flexible. Krampf recalls that when he started out in

business his biggest expense was for printing presses. He needed

darkrooms

too, and people to paste up ads. "The Mac changed everything,"

he says. Not only were production methods altered, but the whole

structure

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.

Diversify. PCG has worked on a number of bank accounts

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

reason

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

industries,

including health care, pharmaceutical, technology, biotech, financial

services, and insurance, and is growing its consumer products

business.

Don’t be afraid to turn down work. Krampf’s mother, a

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

careful

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,

maintaining

the integrity of the product is the most important ingredient of

success.


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