Cassidy & Associates to become independent from parent company

Cassidy & Associates to become independent from parent company
© Getty Images

Lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates is beginning the process of buying itself back from its parent company, Interpublic Group.

The move will bring one of K Street’s oldest lobbying firms — established in 1975 by Democratic lobbyist Gerald Cassidy — back under independent ownership for the first time in 17 years.

“Our action today puts us on a course to empower our people and focus on our founding charge of providing experienced advocacy to deliver exceptional client service and results,” Cassidy CEO Kai Anderson said in a statement.

IPG, which primarily owns marketing and public relations firms including McCann Worldgroup and Weber Shandwick, acquired Cassidy in 2000.

ADVERTISEMENT

Anderson, along with Cassidy Chairman Barry Rhoads, and the firm’s chief operating officer Jordan Bernstein are in charge of the transaction for an undisclosed amount.

Anderson and Rhoads took over from Cassidy four years ago, and lobbying revenues have increased by 7 percent since then. The firm earned $12.4 million for its lobbying work last year.

Once one of the top five K Street firms by revenue — earning upwards of $26 million on lobbying annually — Cassidy saw lobbying fees decrease and then plateau. 

A number of prominent hires in recent years — including a former top staffer to the No. 2 Senate Republican, John CornynJohn CornynSenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Trump’s backing may not be enough on criminal justice reform MORE of Texas, and Charles Brittingham, a senior committee aide who led GOP negotiations for a key water resources reform bill — have helped them bounce back.

Anderson says the upward trend will only increase the firm's success going forward. 

“Turning a battleship takes much longer than turning a destroyer,” he said in a telephone interview with The Hill, in a nod to the firm’s defense and armed services work.

He said  IPG has been a supportive partner, listening to the firm’s concerns and allowing it to make key hires. But, under the watch of a multibillion-dollar company, looming bureaucracy and short-term revenue targets became a challenge.

The split is amicable, the firm’s leaders said, and they will continue to collaborate with other IPG companies in the future.

“We can tailor what we expect of ourselves,” Anderson said. “We know now is the time to sign clients in advance for the big conversations” Congress will be undertaking, and not having to worry about feeling pressure to “find 10 clients in September 2018, right before the midterm elections.”

“We’re focused now on [the fact] we are going to make sure that this firm delivers the kind of client service that had been good business for” 41 years, he said.

The firm also touts its ability to sign clients and retain them for years, including Ocean Spray, which has been a client since its first year.

Other clients include MGM Resorts International, Tiffany & Co., Airbus, BAE Systems and Intel. 

While leadership expects the firm to grow — continuing the trend of “opportunistic” hires it has made in recent years — it wants to continue its focus on keeping clients happy.

“You're either a one or two person shop that can do very specific things in a boutique fashion, or you're big enough where you can have broad coverage. We're building a team that can do both,” Anderson said.

Bernstein added, “If you get too large, you lose that ‘We want to win and be successful every day’ [mentality].”