GRAND RAPIDS — By forming a consulting and advisory practice, a public relations and investor relations firm looks to deepen its ties with clients seeking outside advice for their businesses.
Lambert, Edwards and Associates Inc. of Grand Rapids launched the new practice last week, responding to the growing demands of clients who need services in strategic planning, raising capital or transitioning the business to the next generation.
“It really came down to the leverage piece and our clients asking more from us and the business mindset,” CEO Jeff Lambert told MiBiz. “We’ve always been a PR firm that could read an income statement. We’ve always had a business mindset to our approach, and this is really the next evolution of that mantra.”
Running the new practice is Rob Dwortz, the former president of The Bank of Holland who departed following the 2015 merger with Chemical Financial Corp. when his position was eliminated. Dwortz then set up his own consulting business. Two years ago, he worked with LE&A, an early client, on strategic planning.
As the firm executed on the strategic plan in 2016 and began moving toward forming the consulting and advisory practice, Lambert reconnected near the end of the year with Dwortz, who joined the firm in early 2017 as president. Since then, he’s worked to craft a business plan for the new practice, which gives LE&A additional services to offer existing and prospective new clients.
The as yet unnamed practice — which the firm plans to brand separately — moves LE&A beyond the traditional role of providing PR, IR and integrated marketing.
“This is simply extending from the marketing realm and into operations and finance,” Lambert said. “The end game in this is a more diversified service line, (and) new opportunities to sell at the C-level, which benefits the rest of our business.”
The 18-year-old LE&A has offices in Grand Rapids, Detroit and Lansing and generated revenue of about $9 million in 2016. The firm posted high single-digit growth over the years, a rate that Lambert expects to continue.
Forming the new practice and bringing aboard Dwortz “will be a catalyst for our next decade of expansion that will include organic growth, M&A and new service lines and products aimed at accelerating our growth,” Lambert said.
Dwortz has 25 years of experience in executive management, capital markets, business ownership and consulting. The practice he heads, which is in addition to leading strategy and operations at the firm, will focus on client strategic planning, operating tactics and discipline, leadership development, succession planning, transaction services, and raising capital.
He expects business for the advisory and consulting practice to be split evenly between existing LE&A clients and new referrals.
“The skills that lead me to do this consulting work are also very much available to LE&A’s everyday customer and, hopefully, elevating the conversation about their businesses and how we may help them more deeply,” Dwortz said.
Dwortz’s expertise is in operating and performance cultures, which he describes as “following a set of practices that create in the mindset of your people (a system) that leads to repeatable success” and includes measurable operating metrics to monitor for accountability.