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The Image Group Merges With Target Marketing

Two distributorships have merged to form a firm that company principals say is on track to generate more than $30 million in revenue in 2017. Ohio-based The Image Group (asi/230069) and Virginia-based Target Marketing (asi/341741) announced the merger late Tuesday, saying the businesses will officially become one on June 30. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

For the time being, both The Image Group and Target Marketing will continue to operate under their current names, though they’re leaving the door open to eventually going to market under a single banner, Jon Levine told Counselor. Levine, owner of The Image Group, will become CEO of the merged company. Target Marketing co-owners Jay and Jim Nathanson will serve as principals of the distributorship, with Jay leading the integration effort between the two formerly separate firms. Levine and the Nathansons will be co-owners of the newly formed company, which will be headquartered in both Toledo, OH, and Richmond, VA.

In an interview with Counselor, Levine said The Image Group had between $20 and $21 million in sales last year, while Target was north of $9 million pushing toward $10 million. Anticipating greater market penetration nationally and internationally, Levine expects the merged company to increase collective revenue to approximately $32 million in 2017. “We’re up this year, and we expect that to continue,” he told Counselor.

The Nathansons and Levine have known each other for about 10 years, a relationship that includes interaction through the Peernet Group, a strategic alliance of promotional product distributors. Levine said the familiarity, plus the fact that both companies were operating profitably, made the merger a smart business decision.

“In order to provide continued opportunities for our employees and our customers, Jim and I have been open to the right growth partner who shares our passion for excellence in execution, our core values, and focus on product safety and social responsibility,” Jay Nathanson said in a statement. “Knowing Jon and admiring his company’s results for the last decade made The Image Group a powerful merger partner for us.”

Indeed, Levine and the Nathansons predict that, together, they’ll be able to deliver a greater range of marketing solutions while leveraging the scale and expertise required for maximum efficiency in operations and technology. Levine told Counselor that Target is especially strong in technology, operations and promo standards, while The Image Group’s top strengths include its finance/accounting, sales process and ability to deeply penetrate key vertical markets, such as senior living. “This merger creates a synergy where the whole is larger than its parts,” Levine said in a statement. “By combining our unique strengths and best practices, we’ll be able to provide unparalleled service to our customers.”

Going forward, the combined distributorship will include more than 90 employees. Levine said that number is expected to increase as part of an effort to build the sales structure in the Richmond office. He further noted that all locations throughout Virginia, Ohio and adjoining markets are being maintained.