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Advertising Agency to Call it Quits : Econony: Citing the recession and the loss of a key client, the owner of Greg Smith & Partners said his firm will close and move its accounts to another company.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Faced with a prolonged slump in business, one of Orange County’s older advertising agencies said Friday that it will close at the end of the month and move its accounts to another agency.

Greg Smith, who has operated his Greg Smith & Partners for 15 years in Santa Ana, said that he is taking his $8 million in billings, along with himself and at least five key employees, to the Salvati Montgomery Sakoda agency in Irvine.

Smith said that his agency remained strong through the early part of the recession last year with 40 employees and $17 million in billings.

But in January, it lost 30% of its business overnight when Yamaha Motor Corp. abruptly pulled its account, and the staff fell to its present level of 24 employees.

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The agency had been developing promotions and ads for a new generation of Yamaha motorized watercraft, commonly known as jet skis, but Smith said that Yamaha hired a new promotions director who wanted to move the account to a different agency.

While Smith & Partners retains some well-known clients, including Yamaha’s golf cart division, the agency is caught in the tight grip of the recession, Smith said.

“Agencies of our size have been under an economic squeeze,” he said. “Right now, a lot of clients are doing things in-house or using free-lance people who operate out of their homes and keep their costs down. Accounts that are our bread and butter are being pursued by the larger agencies.”

Even though he was unable to add new accounts this year, Smith said he would have tried to remain in business had he thought the economy was going to improve.

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“But I think ’92 is going to be a tough year,” he said.

He chose to take his accounts to the Salvati agency, he said, because of his long friendship with the firm’s president, Philip J. Salvati. They worked together in the early 1970s at Cochran Chase, Livingston & Co. in Irvine.

With Smith & Partners’ accounts, Salvati will enter 1992 with about $36 million in billings. Smith will be drumming up new business for Salvati, supervising accounts and handling administrative duties.

“He’s got some real good accounts,” Salvati said of Smith. “They are the kind of clients that like to have good work done for them.”

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