Local firm celebrates 25 years in business community
Twenty five years is a long time, especially in the business world. That's why Koppelman & Associates, LLC, a local advertising, public relations, and marketing agency has marked the milestone for the past year, according to its founder, Kim Koppelman.
"In our rapidly-changing world, things that stand the test of time take on even more significance," he notes. "Today, when technology is changing our lives so rapidly, paradigms and businesses come and go more quickly, too. I suppose being in business for 25 years has always been a milestone, but it seems that, today, it's even more remarkable."
Koppelman says his business hasn't been insulated from change. "In some ways, creativity is always new and fresh. In that sense," he says, "ours has always been a business of change and freshness, but the way we accomplish tasks, in our field, is much different and much more varied, today."
Technology and changes in media have driven the biggest change, he says. To illustrate, he explains how print ads were created then, versus now.
When his business began, to create a print ad, creative staff would manually design the ad layout, drawing it out in rough form, write the text (called "copy") on a typewriter, and take that to a typesetter, who would set it and return it to the agency as a "slick," suitable for "pasteup" - a process of using wax to attach elements to a background.
Black and white photographs or artwork were transformed into "pmt's," which also became part of the pasteup. If color photography was involved, a color separation had to be made. That was an expensive process by which the photo was translated into four color negatives, used by printers to create the final full-color effect.
All of this occurred before the ad was submitted to the medium, usually a newspaper or magazine, in the case of print advertising.
Today, he explains, all of that is done electronically, on computers, and electronic files are submitted, usually via e-mail or uploaded to a secure website.
The change is remarkable, and similar changes exist for virtually all other types of advertising production, be it television, radio, billboards, "collateral material," such as brochures, or the varied "new media."
In addition to computers and related technologies, the Internet has presented perhaps the greatest change in advertising, he believes. While, he says, it hasn't replaced traditional advertising media, "it has changed the way and the speed with which the world communicates."
One thing that hasn't changed, Koppelman says, is the essence of the business. "No matter what means you use to create an ad, the crux of our profession is communication - communicating a message in a compelling way. That involves creativity, requires both talent and experience, plus something intangible, a sense of how to effectively communicate an idea. That's a quest that's as old as human interaction, itself."
Koppelman & Associates began in 1984, as a small, new enterprise in the WDAY Tower, near downtown Fargo, where the business grew and remained until it relocated to West Fargo in 2000.
"Our mission was to provide the quality that the few large agencies in our region provided, at a cost the average business could afford," Koppelman recalls. "That hasn't changed."
Since its inception, the firm has served clients on a local, regional, national and, in some cases, international scale, winning numerous awards and recognition, in the process. During a six-year stint, it was recognized every year as one of the 50 fastest growing local firms.
But winning awards and impressing peers isn't really important, says Koppelman.
"The success we've enjoyed, and the reason we've stood the test of time, I believe, is the service we provide our clients and the fact that we put them first. Helping our clients succeed is the only way we succeed."
The agency's clients have varied from small businesses to large, international concerns; from professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants, to non profits. A varied client base is at the core of the firm's character, Koppelman says.
"Our versatility keeps us fresh. If we did the same thing, in the same way, day after day, we'd become stale and our work wouldn't reflect the creativity and effectiveness we've always strived for."
The agency's year-long 25th Anniversary Celebration began last summer and is now concluding. Reflecting upon a quarter century in business leaves its founder not only looking back, but also forward.
"What has changed is remarkable, but so is what has remained constant," said Koppelman.
"The creativity of the human spirit, relating with people at a level where you can reach them effectively, providing a valuable product or service at a fair price, and integrity in business - those values never change. They're the values we've built our business on and the values we'll always strive to maintain."