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PAULSEN CELEBRATES ITS 65TH ANNIVERSARY, LAUNCHES NEW DIVISION
Source: Paulsen news release

Paulsen, the first advertising agency in Sioux Falls and South Dakota, continues to evolve and grow, even as it celebrates its 65th anniversary.

The company, which was founded in 1951, has morphed into an agency that specializes in helping businesses and organizations in the agricultural sector. It added a new division this year, and the overall company is expected to make record sales.

The new division is Migrate Outdoor, which helps clients that serve hunters, fishers, hikers and campers. Like agriculture, the outdoors sector is tied closely to the land.

Paulsen's overall billings for the most recent fiscal year totaled about $20 million, and the marketing company is on track to meet or exceed that record amount this year. In addition to being the oldest advertising agency in the city, Paulsen is one of the largest. The company has 34 employees.

"The remarkable history of growth and evolution of advertising and marketing in South Dakota can be traced, throughout the decades, through Paulsen," said Sara Steever, president.

Paulsen's evolving expertise in market research, brand activation, e-commerce, social media, behavioral targeting and database development is setting the stage for a bright future, executives said. Greater emphasis is expected to be placed in the future on design and development, hosting and maintaining of websites, apps and digital solutions.

"You're growing or you die," said semi-retired CEO Thane Paulsen, one of seven co-owners of the agency founded by his late father, Maurice.

The Paulsens and their colleagues built what started as a one-man business into a solid general advertising agency. In 1998, leaders made a strategic decision that has helped Paulsen stand out.

"We determined we were going to be agricultural and rural life specialists," said Greg Guse, executive vice president and industry analyst. "That was really a particularly significant turning point for the agency."

In 1999, Paulsen attracted the Kubota Tractor Corporation as a client. The Japanese company remains an anchor client today.

"They have experienced phenomenal growth," Guse said. "It's been a very mutually beneficial relationship."

Attracting Kubota proved that Paulsen could compete successfully at the national level as well as the local and regional level. Kubota's U.S. operations are based in Torrance, Calif. Paulsen is Kubota's primary advertising agency for three product lines, said Vince Iorio, national marketing manager for Kubota.

"Paulsen is very easy to work with, very attentive to our needs. Responsiveness is important because business moves so fast these days. Paulsen brings ideas to the table and gives us a lot of options," Iorio said. "They've been leading our charge into expanding our business in a major way over the past few years."

Thane Paulsen said the company bearing the family's name is in the top 10 nationally among about 50 advertising companies that specialize in agriculture. Paulsen's primary competitors are in Omaha, Kansas City, Twin Cities, Des Moines and St. Louis, he said.

Paulsen's operations are based at 3510 S. First Ave. Circle in Sioux Falls. However, the company also maintains one-person branch offices in Dallas, Denver and Des Moines.

Paulsen's regional clients include the South Dakota Corn Council in Sioux Falls. The company helps the corn-producers' group with its annual promotional campaign, which currently carries the tagline "This is farming."

"They help us tell agriculture's story to our everyday consumer," said Teddi Mueller, marketing director for the Corn Council. "They've been great to work with."

Paulsen is able to break down farming, concerns in agriculture, and changes in rural technology in understandable and meaningful ways, Mueller said. The South Dakota Wheat Growers in Aberdeen is another statewide farm group that Paulsen assists.

"I think the world of the Paulsen team that's supported our team. They're high energy, high integrity," said Steve Briggs, senior vice president of corporate marketing for the Wheat Growers. "They're small enough to give us personal attention but big enough to do what we need. They're the perfect fit for the Wheat Growers."

Agriculture has gone through substantial changes since Paulsen has focused on it, Guse said. "It's becoming much more business to business than business to consumer," he said. "It's all digital and data driven."

However, Paulsen has established itself as a service provider that can help lead agricultural organizations on multiple fronts, including options such as consolidation, executives said. The farm sector has been working through some especially challenging economic issues the past few years.

"We are proud, as you can imagine, of surviving and thriving during that time," Steever said, adding that an advertising agency lasts for 65 years because it is important to its clients.


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