The Top 50: Goble & Associates

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Goble & Associates saw healthy revenue gains of 20% last year after a disappointing 2005, when revenues ended down at $14.2 million. “We have about 12 strong, steady clients,” says president/principal Joe Kuchta. “New business wins, without any losses, contributed to the increase.”

This year is Goble’s 25th anniversary, and more than half of its clients have been around for at least a decade. The roster includes founding client Abbott, Cephalon, Dey LP, Solvay Pharmaceuticals and Upsher-Smith Laboratories. Wins from last year: Advanced BioHealing’s Dermagraft; enzyme replacement therapies Elaprase and Replagal from Shire Human Genetic Therapies; and Valeritas’ h-Patch.

Business is driven by sales materials, alternative media and direct marketing, with conventions/exhibits, journals and consumer. Last year marked the launch of alcohol dependence treatment Vivitrol, work on three Dey brands and new work with Shire Human Genetics.
“This year is going to be even better,” Kuchta says. “If that takes more people, then we’ll hire. We assume every relationship is going to last 10 years.”

Staff increased from 48 to 63, the largest ever. Kuchta hired from other agencies as well as from the industry, and he notes that client teams have remained stable. “Our people are everything. If we don’t have good people, we don’t have good business. We don’t hire for roles and responsibility—we hire for people.”

Kuchta has no “grand designs” on growth. “The challenge is to never lose focus on the business at hand,” he says. “Current clients are always more important than scrounging around to get new business. [We want to] keep clients smiling every single day, and look for the right growth opportunities that make sense for the agency. And have a little fun along the way.”

This year proved to be a whole lot of fun as Kuchta took his entire staff and their guests on an all-expenses-paid cruise in the Bahamas. “It was a blast, and turned out better than we expected,” he says. “Every one of our clients [thought it was] great [and told us] we deserved it and to have a great time. We’re having a pretty good time right now. We’ll have a more formal party [later this year] where we invite old friends, clients and vendors.”

Kuchta says healthcare advertising is becoming “more consumer-like” in approach and messaging. “This is not referring to DTC communications,” he explains. “This is in reference to the cluttered communication world we all exist in, and the growing realization that you have to strike a chord with healthcare professionals on an emotional, heartfelt level as well as on an intellectual and clinical level.”

Kuchta says he’s tired of talking about trends and maintaining internal stability is his priority. “Because it’s been a pretty structured, slow, organic growth, we haven’t changed our stride,” he says. “I want to make sure we focus on what led to the changes. I know this is going to sound unambitious, but I’d be happy if we just get to settle in and make sure current business stays solid and productive, the new people fit in great, the agency chemistry remains and new assignments bear fruit for long-term relationships. If I had a parent company, they would be screaming at me.”
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