After 47 years, Rawle Murdy is going by a new name.
The Charleston marketing company was acquired by Buffalo Groupe three years ago to drive growth for both companies. To merge ideas, and now headquarters, the companies are rebranding as BGRM.
Buffalo Groupe CEO Kyle Ragsdale said this wasn’t the initial plan for his company headquartered in Washington, D.C. Rawle Murdy was always intended to operate separately.
“What happened for us, as Buffalo Groupe started working with Rawle Murdy, and we kept acquiring more companies, and we were growing, Rawle Murdy became the de facto creative pillar for all of us,” Ragsdale said.
At the time of the merger, Buffalo Groupe — a collection of integrated marketing agencies, events and media properties — owned only one other company, Buffalo Agency. BG also was a golf-only agency at the time. Acquiring Rawle Murdy and its services was of big interest for Ragsdale to strengthen his company’s position.
“Rawle Murdy was the first acquisition of a much larger growth strategy for us that involved both acquisitions and investments in new service offerings throughout an array of the outdoor lifestyle segment,” Ragsdale said. “We do a lot of outdoor work, sports work, and then Rawle Murdy really represented a stronger move for us into travel, tourism, real estate.”
The renaming brings Rawle Murdy in tighter with Buffalo Groupe and expands the agency’s services. Buffalo Groupe owns a research firm in Portland, Ore., and an events company that hosts events nationwide, and a digital presence that Rawle Murdy now has access to.
“I think you’ll see more and more of all that Buffalo Groupe has as part of the combined service offerings for BGRM,” Ragsdale said.
He said that he considered relocating Rawle Murdy to Washington, D.C., but the deal instead opened BG’s eyes to the opportunities in Charleston. Travelling to the Lowcountry for tourism, golf or a second home are all attractive marketing opportunities.
“Clearly, we chose the winner here and to be associated with a firm that has been so instrumental for a long time is a wonderful, wonderful thing,” Ragsdale said.
Ragsdale treated the merger like he would assess any client, bringing executives from each division as well as research firms into Charleston and working through the process.
While BGRM was the clear winner of all the new names tossed out, Ragsdale said a close second was Five Second Stories since the companies tell clients’ stories in five seconds or less.
The merger won’t change the companies’ business models, but Ragsdale said it will move them forward as a creative firm serving the outdoor recreation space.
“That’s kind of how we’re building our firm, and I don’t think anything is more clearly aligned or any location is more aligned with that type of service, that escape, than Charleston, which has really been an escape community for a long time,” Ragsdale said.
Buffalo Groupe’s full move to Charleston strengthens the company’s position in the market. Throughout the last five decades, Rawle Murdy has been part of the region’s growth as a well-established Charleston marketing firm.
Coming out of the pandemic, Buffalo Groupe employs 110 people, 35 of which are based in Charleston at Rawle Murdy’s current office space for the last seven years. The merger and relocation is expected to add 20 more people to the Lowcountry team.
“It just made sense to hire those where our new hub is going to be. That was the real driver about now,” Ragsdale said. “We’re hiring people. We need them to come to the right identity, the right position. The timing was just right given how our businesses are converging.”
Part of Rawle Murdy’s new role as BGRM managing director is to head up reconfiguring the Lowcountry office space. The challenge is determining what BGRM’s future office footprint looks like in a post-COVID world for a growing team. Within the next few years, Ragsdale’s vision is to see this year’s 50 or so employees double.
A hiring increase of that size a decade or so ago would have been taxing for a city the size of Charleston, but Ragsdale said the company finds the digital and creative talent look to Charleston as the place to be.
“As a top destination with world-class talent and a thriving creative community, there’s no place more fitting to now serve as the home for the ‘herd,’” Ragsdale said.