As first reported Tuesday in a Breaking News alert, The Image Group (PPAI 103424) and Target Marketing (PPAI 109001) have announced an agreement to merge the companies, effective June 30. In a statement, owners for the two distributors say the merger will provide current and prospective clients with a greater range of marketing solutions, while bringing scale needed for continued efficiencies in operations, innovative technologies and greater reach nationally and internationally.

The Image Group, based in Toledo, Ohio, has had a heavy emphasis on finance and sales resources, with an additional interest in building sales process for vertical markets. Target Marketing, based in Richmond, Virginia, has been a pioneer in technology and operations resulting in efficiencies that few distributors have achieved. Both companies focus on safety and social compliance, and that will remain a pillar going forward.

The combined sales of the two companies will be in the $31 to $32-million range, says Jon Levine, CEO of The Image Group, and the plan is to build revenue to $40 million over the next three years.

“This merger creates a synergy where the whole is larger than its parts,” he adds. “While both of our companies have grown to be recognized market leaders, we have different specialties. By combining our unique strengths and best practices, we’ll be able to provide unparalleled service to our customers.”

The combined company will employ more than 90 marketing professionals, and all locations throughout Virginia, Ohio, and adjoining markets will be retained. Target Marketing’s co-owners Jay Nathanson and Jim Nathanson, and The Image Group’s Levine will co-own the resulting company, which will be headquartered in both Toledo and Richmond and will continue to operate under The Image Group and Target Marketing brands.

Jay Nathanson adds, “In order to provide continued opportunities for our employees and our customers, Jim and I have been open to the right growth partner who shares our passion for excellence in execution, our core values, and focus on product safety and social responsibility. Knowing Jon and admiring his company’s results for the last decade made The Image Group a powerful merger partner for us.”

Levine says the deal has been in the works for about a year and that the two parties have known each other for about 12 years through their membership in the distributor buying organization PeerNet Group.

Target Marketing was formed in 1987 and serves a broad number of industries. It has developed a niche, servicing clients with sophisticated needs that most distributors, including The Image Group, have been unable to retain due to lack of technological know-how, says Levine. The Image Group was founded in 1981 and serves many industries as well, with a heavy concentration in health care and health-related institutions. The Image Group also serves the secondary education market and heavy industry and automotive related businesses.

The merger is not expected to result in any internal changes to the organizations at this point. “As we will continue to operate under our separate brands in our separate markets, we have communicated to our clients and staff that there will no immediate changes,” says Jay Nathanson. “Our plan is to gradually and thoughtfully review our respective processes, adopt best practices and look for opportunities to deploy these across the larger organization, which will result in changes for the better.”

Nathanson and the Target technology team will be leading that integration. He adds, “We plan on being on one comprehensive IT platform to begin 2018, which is our most important task. Target Marketing has developed this platform, which will be further customized to accommodate the in-house decorating at The Image Group.”