When other advertising and public relations firms were pulling back, Miami’s MGSCOMM was acquiring other companies. Since 2004, it has absorbed three independent, Hispanic-owned agencies: first Miami’s IAC (in 2004), then New York-based Reynardus + Moya (2009) and most recently, Revolucion NYC (2011). Today the decade-old firm is still co-owned by founders Manuel E. Machado, CEO/co-chairman, and Al Garcia-Serra, COO/co-chairman. With offices in Miami, New York and Mexico City, the company offers advertising and PR services including account management, creative, media planning, social and digital media, broadcast production, events and grassroots marketing.
Success has brought recognition. Recently, Machado was named Hispanic Agency Executive of the Year by HispanicAd.com.
Business Monday found that award, along with the firm’s many others, in the bottom of a clear Plexiglass box at the entrance of MGSCOMM’s Miami office on Coral Way — an indicator that while awards are valued, they’re less important than campaigns that deliver on the client’s bottom line.
Another notable office feature: An exhibition of sorts called Objectivity, featuring photos of an object chosen by each team member and an explanation of why it is important.
Garcia-Serra chose a small statue of Kermit the Frog (“a visionary individual with an almost-impossible dream’’).
Machado chose his baby shoes, writing, “I got these old shoes as a gift from my youthful mother. She got away with giving me the same present twice — at birth, and on my birthday many years later. To be honest, I couldn’t think of a better present — they serve as a constant reminder of how ephemeral life is, and how lucky I am to have had shoes on my feet my whole life. I am grateful for everything life gives me, and to still have my mother’s shoulder to lean on.’’
Q. How did you and your business partner, Al Garcia-Serra, get started?
Al is well known in the business community as a Hispanic market industry trailblazer. It turned out that his daughter had worked for me but under her married name, so I wasn’t even aware. A project brought us together and, inevitably, our shared vision coupled with complementary assets solidified the deal. The only asset we lacked was startup funding, but we got through that thanks to a client partner that really believed in us. So along with Gloria, our assistant and the backbone of our startup, who has unfortunately since passed, and two additional associates, we began building MGSCOMM from the ground up.
Q. What was your vision in the beginning, and how has that shifted over time?
Our vision was simple really, to connect U.S. brands and services with multi-ethnic consumers. The vision hasn’t changed but the opportunities are much more broad.
Q. When other agencies were cutting back, you were expanding and purchasing other agencies. Why did you take those risks, and how did you manage that?
In times of cutbacks, companies can often find strength in each other. In our case, these former agencies were either previous colleagues or industry friends. In each instance they added to our ideal combination of talent, results-driven management, competence and a clear vision of the future. Although there were risks, we were able to maintain individual client rosters within a unified corporate culture.