Last year Dorland was acquired by Huntsworth Health, and Richard Minoff took over as president and CEO of Dorland after founders Harry and Rita Sweeney retired. Revenue was slightly up, and goals and expectations were met. Minoff calls 2007 an “exceptional” and “inspirational” year.
“An awful lot of change occurred,” he says. “People were so energized and enthused about moving the business forward. The Sweeneys leaving represented an evolution. They built a very venerable agency and did a great job preparing [for the evolution].”
Minoff expanded the executive committee beyond himself, Nancy Bacher Long, president, Dorland Global PR, and Charlie Santangelo, CFO, to include four additional people: Joe Soto, EVP, GM, Dorland Global Health Communications; Michael Barnett, MD, PhD, CMO; Sharon Rundberg, EVP, director of internal resources; and Don Martiny, chief creative officer.
“I wanted more people involved at a senior level with the day-to-day business,” Minoff says. “I like to be able to make quicker decisions. We're in a position to do that, and at the same time the executive committee is getting closer to our client business.”
Dorland pulled in 22 wins (17 new clients), including AACR (corporate and oncology); Allos Therapeutics (a new oncology product); three assignments from Becton Dickinson Biosciences (Aria II, CBA and Discovery Software); multiple assignments for Roche's Avastin, Avastin mBc and Avastin RCC; and Schering- Plough's Clarinex/Aerius. There were five losses (one was resigned, the rest dried up). “Probably 10% of our business is pure brand strategy,” Minoff says. “It used to be more about concepts, now it's truly about commercialization and marketing of brands.”
Last year was a big pitching year—with a win-rate of well over 75%. Sometimes, Minoff says, teams pitched twice within a couple of hours and as many as three groups pitched in a week. He counts new business wins among last year's greatest achievements, and he's pleased to report that more than 40% of business became global.
Increased collaboration—within Dorland offices and with Huntsworth—is evolving after the restructuring.
“It's important to have directness, openness, agreement to collaborate and engage in open dialogue and discussion where we don't all have the same opinion,” Minoff says. “It's the cultural norm that we've tried to drive and continue to evolve.”
Headcount was up 10 to 135 in 2007, and recruitment, development and retention remain ongoing challenges. Dorland Global Institute has been a huge help, and leadership is looking at offerings to make sure employees are getting exactly what they want and need. Minoff adds that it's important to help staff develop better messaging and write powerful positioning statements.
This year Dorland will continue to solidify business and grow interactive and new media practices. Minoff says an employee exchange program with Huntsworth is being considered and everyone in the network is vested in maximizing opportunities—for both clients and the network.
“It's a real pleasure working with the rest of the network,” he says. “It's not about who's getting the revenue; it's about how can we help our clients.”
Minoff adds that work with early stage brands, particularly those in specialty pharma, is a growth area for Dorland and that the agency's media and scientific affairs groups give it a natural proclivity to help these types of brands.