Core-Create was born in June 2005, following the merger between Ribotsky Worldwide US—an agency focused on traditional creative, branding and medical education services—and Paperwhite UK, a London-based firm specializing in corporate communications. According to Core-Create president Ken Ribotsky, the name alludes to being central to a client's business and team.
The union has not been without difficulties, however. “Whenever you bring two companies together, there are challenges,” says Ribotsky, “especially when it involves two different cultures, so we had to learn a bit about each other… I think what the merger did was allow a few of our senior people to walk away and follow their own dreams, so it simplified our reporting structure.”
With fewer managers, Core-Create was able to increase its speed and efficiency. “There are fewer people to consult when you make a decision,” says Ribotsky. However, the company has hired key new players, such as a CFO with experience in public companies and a general manager.
With an expanded range of capabilities, Core-Create is concentrating its efforts on traditional healthcare communications, including medical education and custom publishing—effectively combining the strengths of the US and London offices. “They are the two business areas we want to focus on,” Ribotsky says. “We spent the last year deciding that that was going to be our strongest offering and our most return.”
With a successful post-merger year behind, this strategy has included a successful restructuring, as well as solidified client relationships. Core-Create was appointed agency of record by Coria Laboratories (a division of DFB Pharmaceuticals), and also won new assignments from Healthpoint's surgical division, and ConvaTec—a medical device company owned by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Nikon Optical USA—for whom Core-Create helped launch an optical lens division. The agency added on responsibilities from existing clients and maintained all their accounts. Reported worldwide gross income increased from $4.4 million in 2004 to $6.4 million in 2005.
With 50 staff members split between the US and London, the agency hopes to maintain growth of about 5% per year. However, finding good talent could impede this goal. “We have really high standards,” says Ribotsky, “so for us it is not easy to find the type of people who are appropriate for our clients.”
Other challenges relate to “grappling with the demand on pricing versus what our talent costs us.” Ribotsky notes that purchasing departments and sourcing people add a level of complication from the pitch perspective. “They are asking for a lot of financial information up front, trying to determine what your cost to that client will be, as opposed to in past years, the client's main concern was finding talent they were looking for,” and turning a critical eye toward service costs. “Oftentimes the scale they are using doesn't reflect what those resources cost for us,” says Ribotsky, “So that I think is a challenge across the board for the entire industry, making two ends meet.”
However, Core-Create is looking ahead. Although the agency is “tidying up the house,” Ribotsky plans on a renewed marketing effort. Even “a possible acquisition by us of another company isn't out of the question.”