“We get a lot of, ‘You guys are so transparent. Where I came from, they never told us about revenue and net profits’” Harts says. “Here, we put them up on a screen during our town halls.”
Given Evolution’s recent surge — the company ended 2017 with $24.4 million in revenue and 103 people on the rolls, up from $19 million and 64 at the end of 2016 — keeping its people happy ranks high on the to-do list. Harts and her fellow managing partners Andrea Lanzetta and Mark Edfort put a culture plan in place every year, just as they do a financial one.
“Relationships aren’t forged by engaging with each other every so often,” Harts notes. “We have a work-hard-play-hard mentality. When there are moments where we can take a breath, we encourage people to take that breath.”
One wonders if Evolution has been so focused on those relationships that it neglected to tend to its own industry rep. Asked how the agency is perceived by outsiders, the three managing partners pause before responding.
“For many years, we didn’t spend a lot of time pushing ourselves out into the world,” Harts explains. “We focused on the relationships we were forming, so maybe some other people never heard of us.”
Lanzetta agrees, adding, “So much of our reputation comes from word of mouth. That shows how positively we are viewed by our customer base.”
It’s a base that has expanded considerably. At the end of 2017, Evolution counted 15 AOR engagements and nine project-based ones, up from 12 and six a year prior. There were several heavy-hitters added, among them Biogen, Ferring, and Shire.
To help manage the additions, Evolution hired former Harrison and Star managing director Marina Jean as chief growth officer. The agency has also invested heavily in proprietary tech. One tool is designed to maintain organizational intelligence in an era where frequent change has become the norm for many companies. “There’s lots of [personnel] movement,” Harts acknowledges. “We’ve created systems and mechanisms that will ensure the body of knowledge isn’t lost when somebody departs.”