NEW YORK, April 16—GCI Group, which earlier this year strengthened its presence in the Midwest with its acquisition of Tunheim Group, has added a Texas presence with another deal, snapping up Read-Poland & Associates, which has offices in Austin, Dallas and Houston and is best known for its work in the corporate and public affairs arenas. The merged company will operate as GCI Read-Poland.

The deal reunited GCI president Bob Feldman with Jeff Hunt, who was named president at the Texas firm earlier this year. Feldman hired Hunt as an intern at Burson-Marsteller 17 years ago, and says, “I regard him as one of the great talents in this business. He’s one of a handful of people who has experience in every major region of the world—in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.”

Read-Poland had 2000 revenues of about $2.3 million and in addition to operating three offices in Texas has a presence in Washington, D.C. While best known for its work in public affairs—founder Julian Read was a public relations advisor to Texas Governor John B. Connally and a campaign worked for President Lyndon B. Johnson—it recently expanded into technology with the addition of former Alexander Ogilvy general manager Don Bartholomew.

Read-Poland’s client base includes the Pulse financial services industry network, Bell Helicopter Textron, MGM Mirage, Miller Brewing and ATP Tour.   

“Texas is one of the most important markets in the U.S., for corporate work, for technology and energy work, and for public affairs, particularly now that George W. Bush is in the White House,” says Feldman. “We have 40 offices around the world, but we didn’t have an office in Texas. Read-Poland brings GCI instant credibility in Texas, with offices in three major PR markets,” he said.  “In addition, GCI gains two senior managers in Julian and Jeff who will bring a deep knowledge of the state and the industry to GCI and help us continue to grow in the future.”       

In addition to working with Hunt, Feldman had experience with Read-Poland, which was a Burson-Marsteller affiliate when Feldman worked at B-M.  

Says Hunt, “What GCI brings to us is a very entrepreneurial spirit, which I think Bob Feldman has injected into that agency. It also gives us tremendous resources around the U.S. and internationally.” Read-Poland has consciously chosen to remain small and very focused on its core market, says Hunt, but with the sale, “We want to grow.”
One possibility is that the firm—and Hunt, who headed the Latin American region for B-M—will provide a platform for GCI’s further expansion into Mexico and other Latin American markets.