NEW YORK, May 22—Two years ago, Cohn & Wolfe decided that healthcare and technology public relations were going to two major engines of growth for the agency. The healthcare practice has lived up to its end of the bargain, emerging as one of the strongest in the industry, and now the firm is making a major play in the high-tech arena, acquiring Dallas-based Springbok Technologies, one of the nation’s largest independent technology PR specialists.

While technology revenues have fallen dramatically in the recent downturn, Cohn & Wolfe president Steve Aiello says the sector is “still a very important part of our strategic growth initiative. It’s not going to go away. In fact, the need for effective communications at technology companies is going to be stronger than ever.”

The acquisition of Springbok “gives us true credibility in this area,” he adds. Springbok finished last year with revenues of close to $10 million—up more than 70 percent over the previous years—and is best known for its work in the telecommunications and semiconductor industries. The firm has offices in Dallas and Austin, as well as affiliates in Europe and Asia. Clients include Texas Instruments, Cirrus Logic, AOL/AAdvantage and MobileStar.

Springbok founder and president Glenn Abel, meanwhile, says his decision to joins forces with Cohn & Wolfe was based on client demand for greater national and international resources.

“We had risen to be one of the top 50 largest independents in the country, and the largest in the Texas market, and it was important for us to expand on a global basis,” says Abel. “We found ourselves competing increasingly with former independents who had become part of something larger, and we were at a disadvantage. It was becoming increasingly clear that it would be difficult to get where we needed to go organically.”

Abel cites cultural reasons for choosing Cohn & Wolfe over other potential suitors. “I think it’s very important to like the people you work with,” he says. “The more we talked, the more it became apparent that we think the same way.”

Initially at least, Springbok will operate as an independent entity within Cohn & Wolfe, under the Springbok Cohn & Wolfe name. But both Aiello and Abel suggest that over time the existing C&W technology practice might be integrated into Springbok’s operation, and that the Springbok brand could be expanded into overseas markets.