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Erwin Penland realigns, lays off staff in Greenville, N.Y.

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By Matthew Clark
mclark@scbiznews.com
Published Nov. 6, 2015

A Greenville advertising agency laid off an undisclosed number of staff between its office in the Upstate and its New York facility due to an “agency realignment.”

Erwin Penland, which reported 300 staff in its Greenville office as of August, laid off “a single-digit percentage of its overall workforce” between the two locations on Nov. 5, 2015 according to the agency’s Chief Client Officer Joe Saracino. The recent cuts are on top of layoffs the company made in April after some of its business with Verizon Wireless was moved.

“That (Verizon) business is pretty broad, and we had lost a piece of our business, and it had an impact and we made those adjustments,” Saracino said. “Those (Nov. 5) cuts really weren’t anything to do with Verizon, they were part of an agency reorganization that really touched a lot of different parts.”

He said the recent round of layoffs were “across the agency” and at both locations. He added the realignment is a necessary part of doing business in the agency industry.

“In this business, the speed of which the industry is changing, you have to change as fast as that,” Saracino said. “We are an agency that is about to be 30 years old, and the opportunities you have to engage consumers for brands is a lot different now than it was even five years ago.”

The realignment includes a greater focus on digital and content-driven advertising, according to Saracino.

“That is not just in the industry, but it is what our clients are asking for,” he said. “We are still doing broadcast work and print, but so much more of our work is coming from web, social and branded content. We are trying to adjust staff so our offering is more aligned with that.”

He said he was hopeful the agency would be able to bring back some of those laid off, but that it would depend on “what the business is for us in the future.”

“Our mission is to grow and build jobs,” Saracino said. “I would say the agency business is a bit of a roller coaster. We will constantly evolve, and we will be prepared for the future. The hope is that we won’t have something like that happen again, and the intention is to grow.”

The company recently broke ground on a new five-story multitenant mixed-use building in downtown Greenville. The new building includes a skywalk linking one of the advertising firm’s two existing buildings downtown, one of which will be renovated. The new building is being developed by Hughes Commercial Properties and Centennial American Properties and will be located between the Sun Trust-Greenville Hospital System building at 300 East McBee Ave. and the agency’s 30,000-square-foot building at 125 East Broad St.

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