Young America, the multichannel marketer that was founded in the Minnesota town of Norwood Young America in 1972, will move to downtown Minneapolis in May.
CEO Chris Behrens, who took over the firm on behalf of new owners in 2013, said what began as a one-time promotion-fulfillment and coupon-rebate operation has evolved into more of a digital-promotion firm best suited for an urban center.
Young America plans to move about 100 employees into the historic Lumber Exchange Building on Hennepin Avenue S. They include 34 recent hires in marketing and technology, from corporate offices in Edina and an operations center in Norwood Young America, about 45 miles southwest of downtown Minneapolis.
"As our company has grown and our core business evolved to digital marketing services, our facility and recruiting needs have changed," Behrens said. "We believe that having a downtown location will best serve the needs of our employees and our clients. We're thrilled to have such a quality space that reflects the vibrant business we have today and will enable teamwork and creativity for the entire YA team."
Behrens, a veteran marketer from Chicago, joined the Young America board in 2013 and subsequently was appointed CEO by the three Chicago-based lenders — BMO Harris, Madison Capital and Maranon Capital of Chicago — who took over the company from a New York private equity firm as part of a restructuring in 2013 that followed a business downswing.
Behrens said a six-month review with clients and strategic planning led to a $1.2 million investment in the business by the new owners that improved Young America's digital and social media and mobile applications, as well as marketing-program reporting. That, he said, proved to clients that their investment of $1 will lead to at least $1.50 in new revenue.
"Young America is in a good place right now," Behrens said. "We just had our first year [in several] of growing the business. That's substantial for our clients and employees."
Behrens said the company, which also operates call centers in Mexico and Canada, had a 52 percent increase in operating profit in 2014 on an 18 percent gain in revenue.
Young America projects revenue of about $32 million this year. It has about 80 clients, including 22 it has added over the last 14 months.
Behrens said the current owners likely will remain in place for three or four years amid projections of a growing, profitable business.
"As we look to 2015 we have the strategic plan and team in place to continue building," he said. "We wanted to keep the business in the Minneapolis region. When we looked at what was required, we saw great resources here."
The client list includes T-Mobile, Loews, Pepsi, Advance Auto Parts, Dannon, Napa and New Belgium Brewing.
Young America, which established corporate offices in Edina several years ago, has told local officials that it is selling its two buildings in Norwood Young America.