Everything may look the same at Asher Agency these days, but it’s not.
“There’s a different energy amongst the team and around the building. People are really excited about our mantra for this year: Together we grow,” says Kara Kelley, president and co-owner of Asher.
Kelley and Asher CFO Megan Bennett officially purchased the agency this past summer and are focused on continuing and growing the successes of the nearly 50-year-old business.
Located on West Wayne Street in downtown Fort Wayne, Asher was founded in 1974 by Tim Borne. The advertising agency thrived for decades before the Borne family sold it to Eastport Holdings in Memphis, Tennessee.
“They were a great partner to us and a tremendous resource,” says Bennett. “Kara and I had worked for Asher for years, but never really thought about owning the business until the pandemic hit in 2020.”
“It was definitely a challenging time, and we lost our biggest client after that company got a new CEO and made some big marketing changes,” says Kelley. “Megan and I navigated through it together and in those challenging times there’s always a silver lining. In our case, it gave us the opportunity to approach the holding company and ask if they would consider selling Asher to us and they said yes.”
Kelley and Bennett officially took ownership on July 1, 2022.
“It still seems surreal to me,” says Kelley. “I never imagined I’d be the president and co-owner of a business. At the same time, we are so excited and proud to be not only a woman-owned business, but a family first company as well.”
With 35 employees and offices in four cities around the country (Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Charleston, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.), Kelley and Bennett recognize the importance of relationships with not only their team members, but clients as well.
“We’re family first, but we’re also people first,” says Bennett. “We’ve had clients for up to 30 years. We develop strong relationships with our clients and our client service is exceptional because we’re responsive, attentive and we don’t get complacent. We are always bringing new ideas to the table.”
“We have a wide variety of clients, both large and small,” says Kelley. “Our focus areas are franchise/co-op, governmental relations, education, financial services and health care. We have roughly 75 to 80 clients including the State of Indiana, the Department of Health for the State of Montana, Indiana Tech, Fort Wayne International Airport, Fantastic Sams Cut & Color and Pizza Factory. We are actively looking to continue to grow to serve more clients.”
Being locally owned and independently operated gives Kelley and Bennett the ability to steer the company and lead their team in a direction that they are comfortable and confident.
“We’re very proud of the fact that we never approach anything with a cookie cutter formula,” says Bennett. “Everything is customized and tailored to what our clients need. We try and use as much insight and data to smartly apply their dollars and make the money work incredibly hard as if it were our own dollar.”
With a strong and supportive team, Kelley and Bennett say they owe their successes to the expertise of their co-workers.
“We’re a small, woman-owned, full-service ad agency,” says Kelley. “We do web development and we have a team of specialists in designing and branding, creative conceptions, digital media and traditional media. This is great for our clients because we can bring in those experts on our team to meet our clients’ needs, no matter what they might be.”
“We also take pride in giving back to our community,” says Bennett. “Our employees are involved in philanthropic organizations on a regular basis, including Fort Wayne Trails, Fort Wayne Ballet, Community Harvest Food Bank, the Embassy Theatre and Amani Family Services. We give our employees an extra two days of PTO so they can dedicate their time to a charity of their choice. Community involvement is just so important to us and our team.”
With Asher’s 50th anniversary on the horizon, Kelley and Bennett are both excited and grateful looking back and looking ahead.
“We couldn’t have done this without the support of our investment partner, Ash Crest Corporation, as well as the tremendous leadership of the Borne family,” says Kelley. “Unfortunately, Tim Borne passed away five years ago, but the Borne family still plays a role in the business. In fact, I talk to Tim’s brother, Tom, just about every day and I deeply appreciate his guidance. He’s been a wonderful mentor to me. Right now, our focus is on being the best
woman-owned business we can be with an eye on future growth.”
Phone: (260) 424-3373