Professional services firm TAAG acquires marketing agency gordongroup

Bob Chitty and Andrew Abraham
Gordongroup founder Robert Chitty (left) and Andrew Abraham, founder and CEO of The Andrew Abraham Group, are combining the two Ottawa companies. Photo courtesy TAAG

The Andrew Abraham Group is adding marketing and design to its professional service offerings with the acquisition of gordongroup, the two Ottawa-based companies announced Thursday.

Terms of the transaction, which closed in mid-March, were not disclosed.

By bringing a well-established marketing agency under its umbrella, the organization better known as TAAG joins a growing number of professional services firms that are stretching beyond their accounting roots into other fields of business.

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Founded in 2009 under the name Elite Accounting, TAAG has since augmented its offerings with other services, including tax planning, wealth management, succession planning and business and corporate law. 

Founder and CEO Andrew Abraham told OBJ he was looking to add marketing and design services to that mix as a way to stand out from the competition and found the ideal partner in gordongroup.

“There’s a lot of history and legacy there,” Abraham said of the agency that’s been a fixture in the Ottawa marketing scene for more than three decades. “This is just another service line that betters us as a firm.”   

Established in 1987, gordongroup – officially incorporated as Otrex Communications – is one of the city’s best-known marketing, branding and design agencies. While it has fewer than 10 employees, the company has a significant local presence thanks to prominent public- and private-sector clients such as the City of Ottawa, the Ottawa Board of Trade and Algonquin College.

Robert Chitty, the firm’s 62-year-old founder and president, said he felt the time was right to hand the business over to a new ownership group. 

“I’m no spring chicken,” he said with a laugh. “We rolled through a number of speed bumps with the business, and it just looked like a good idea to consolidate at this stage of my career.

“We needed to be careful to look at our succession (plan) in a way that would serve our clients and our team adequately and help them to grow in what they’re doing. We have a good reputation. I think if we’re going to make a move, the best time to do that is when things are looking up. We’re not going out (of business) – we’re just shifting gears here with Andrew’s organization, and we’re very excited about that.”

Chitty noted that he and Abraham have been friends for nearly a decade, describing the new business partners as “kindred spirits in the sense of entrepreneurial instincts.”

The veteran businessman got a closer look at how TAAG operated after signing on as a customer of the firm’s virtual CFO service about a year ago. 

As someone who’s designed and published his share of annual financial reports for corporate clients, Chitty quickly sensed there could be potential synergies between his organization and one of the city’s fastest-growing professional services firms.

“Graphic design has always been a commercial trade,” he explained. “It’s not about just putting something pretty on the wall. It’s about helping people understand the value the organization brings to their clients and constituents.

“From my point of view, that was a big attraction to this merger – the clear evolution that exists there that we’d be crazy not to capitalize on,” Chitty said. “We’re stoked about making this work for everyone. It’s like a new launch pad for us.”

Abraham hopes the deal will accelerate growth at his firm, which rebranded last spring and moved into new headquarters at the corner of Bank and Cooper streets later in 2022. 

The 70-person company, which also has offices in Arnprior and Montreal, expects to hire another 10 to 15 people this year as it pushes toward 100 employees, a mark it expects to surpass in 2024.

Abraham said he’s looking forward to building the firm’s new book of business with Chitty – and perhaps enjoying a few excursions away from the office with him as well.

As they were poised to sign off on the acquisition, Abraham said he threw in a “sweetener” his globetrotting buddy couldn’t resist – the offer to go on a photography trip together.

“I knew the key to his heart,” Abraham said with a chuckle.

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