Business is personal for employees at Dudnyk. In January, this tenet took on new significance when the firm claimed an AOR assignment from Agilis Biotherapeutics.

While Dudnyk won the account owing to its experience in the space — 70% of its business comes from rare disease assignments — a personal connection one staffer has with the company prompted the agency to fight especially hard for it.

The familiarity with Agilis stems from its ongoing development of a drug that could potentially treat the exec’s child, who has a rare genetic disorder that affects the nervous system. The Agilis business Dudnyk won is for an HCP disease education effort around a different neurological condition, AADC.

“Agilis is on my radar, so when we had a chance to gain the account I told my colleagues, ‘We have to pitch this and win,’” the exec recalls, noting Dudnyk ultimately chose not to leverage the personal connection.

These connections have sustained Dudnyk for 25 years. They also spurred both top- and bottom-line growth over the past year, with revenue increasing 16.6% to $16.9 million from $14.5 million in 2016.

dudnyk agency

Dudnyk president Christopher Tobias reports the agency is on pace to hit or surpass the $20 million revenue mark this year, even in the wake of losing two assignments, Merck’s antibiotic Sivextro and Flexion’s osteoarthritis knee pain treatment Zilretta. Roster mainstays include Shire and Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

“In three years we’ve doubled our revenue and are cresting to more than 100 employees,” he notes. Dudnyk added 10 during the past year, among them VP and director of project management and resourcing John Burt.

Hiring and onboarding new employees has become one of the agency’s biggest challenges, according to EVP and director of client services Annemarie Armstrong — especially because the firm is always in launch mode. “There’s a skill set and cultural connection we’re looking at because we are doing so many launches every year,” she says. Dudnyk is partnering on imminent launches with Alnylam, Sunovion, Sun Ophthalmics, and Shire.

The agency does everything it can to retain employees, providing them with what Armstrong believes are myriad opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment. Charity work is especially important at Dudnyk, which uses its abilities “for good,” she reports.One example: The firm’s efforts on behalf of Simon’s Heart, a Philadelphia charity dedicated to screening kids for heart defects. “We’re developing initiatives that focus on personal fulfillment and maximal contribution to the organization by our employees,” Tobias says.