February 3, 2017 – Executive search firms The Buffkin Group and Baker and Associates, LLC have merged to form Buffkin / Baker in an effort to further position both firms for future growth and expansion. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The newly combined entity will be headquartered in Nashville.
The Buffkin Group concentrates on finding leaders for organizations in the healthcare, technology, digital media, digital marketing, financial services and non-profit sectors. Each partner in the firm has been a leader in their respective fields and each has more than a decade of hands on recruiting experience. The firm serves public, private, venture and private equity-backed companies. Office locations outside of Nashville include Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., with affiliate offices in San Francisco and London.
Baker and Associates was established in 2007 by Jerry Baker, who will remain with the firm and serve as a senior advisor and chairman of the newly combined firm’s higher education practice. Based in Atlanta, Baker and Associates focuses on the higher education and private club marketplaces. The firm has offices outside of Atlanta including Winston-Salem, NC and Charleston. Since its founding, the firm’s search consultants have conducted some 850 searches for a diverse corporate and non-profit client base, including the University of Missouri, Oklahoma State University, University of Louisville, University of Mary Washington, Ohio State University, Duke University, Sage Valley Golf Club, Yeamans Hall Club, Forsyth Country Club, and Belfair Plantation.
“Craig and I have known each other for many years and have worked well together both professionally and personally,” said Martin Baker, managing partner of Buffkin / Baker. “Our common values of delivering a higher level of customer service will help differentiate us in the marketplace, and position us for a bright future.”
“We are excited about harnessing the synergies and vision of both of our firms that have established a proud tradition of excellent service and results for companies and organizations across the world,” said Craig Buffkin, the firm’s other managing partner. “Our partnership positions both firms for incredible future growth, and gives us a much larger platform for client service.”
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The Buffkin Group, like Baker and Associates, provides innovative and creative solutions for clients, said Mr. Baker. “Both of our firms are very highly regarded, well-established names in our respective practice areas. This merger adds a lot more horsepower to capitalize on the vast experience that our partners can collectively deliver to the marketplace.”
Through the years, said Mr. Buffkin, “it became abundantly clear that Martin and I could build a successful business together, dedicated to our shared values and vision to take both firms to exciting new levels, and have fun doing it.”
The two search firm leaders recently outlined their goals for their newly combined firm with Hunt Scanlon Media editors. Here’s an excerpt from that discussion.
Craig, what’s your vision for the newly combined Buffkin / Baker?
Buffkin: It’s all about building a firm that delivers results, expertise and excellence in everything we do as a search firm. We’ve always lived by the motto: ‘An inch wide and a mile deep,’ meaning that we do work where we can truly add value. With the combination of our two firms we form a partnership like-minded in values with two traditions of delivering excellent service. We also realize incredible synergy – when you combine the higher education vertical from Baker with our work in the academic medical center space, you gain synergies for clients like Johns Hopkins, Weill Cornell and others. And the boards of every university are stacked with tremendous business leaders – that also drives incredible synergy. Two heads are also better than one, and our collective experience and expertise allows us to position ourselves for incredible future growth.
Baker: The vision that Craig has had for the firm – high quality, high service and always striving for excellence, will continue. This is about two very highly regarded, well-established names in our marketplaces. Our coming together adds a lot more horsepower, and the vision is to capitalize on the vast experience of the partners to leverage great success.
How does this partnership leverage the assets of both firms?
Buffkin: We are well positioned in the marketplace with relationships in both the higher education and private club space and Baker has great relationships in healthcare, digital marketing, technology, non-profit and the financial sectors. We can help Martin with our relationships and vice versa. This gives us a much bigger platform of services to offer clients across the world.
Baker: For example, the partners and their expertise in the digital practice, the technology practice and how that plays into higher education – this gives us an awesome opportunity to distinguish ourselves in the marketplace. The private club space offers a great forum and synergy to network with business leaders. Also, The Buffkin Group’s highly effective and highly targeted search process and best practices will drive our future growth.
What are your thoughts on branding?
Buffkin: We are establishing ourselves as a strong and vibrant middle tier firm – one with scale that is very much partner lead and partner leveraged. This gives us a much stronger team-selling environment.
Baker: Absolutely right. We are creating a firm that works in multiple industries, where we are leaders in those verticals. We will continue to be a very high-touch, high feel team. And remember, we are already significant players in our respective fields. We have very strong identities of who we are. That’s going to go a long way in the marketplace now that we’ve combined.
This merger gives both firms resources to expand. For Buffkin, it gives the firm additional business lines. For Baker, it means more resources to grow its higher education and golf club practices. Anything else?
Buffkin: One of the models we have developed is partners that are selling and executing combined with an associate pool that is available to the partners. We’ve established that team to work alongside the partners and leverage what they are doing to place the most important candidates. Our firms together will have a much deeper associate bench. That is vital in this business particularly as we grow.
How does this dovetail with your other key sectors: healthcare, technology, digital media, digital marketing and financial services?
Buffkin: Healthcare we have already touched on. In the other sectors, board members of the universities we work with are leaders across the other industries. This gives Martin a reason to talk to them about marketing, technology and other core non-educational areas.
You recently opened a Chicago office, now you have Winston-Salem. This reinforces your national scope – along with additional offices in Nashville, New York and Washington, D.C. Your global reach seems to be covered through your Panorama partnership. What are your goals with these markets?
Buffkin: As Martin and I look at these markets and our practices, we will realize new opportunities by adding partners and expertise in certain practices. We are always aiming to add depth to our offerings.
Baker: For higher education, it’s often times important to have boots on the ground in relation to where a university client sits geographically. Having offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Nashville gives us a bigger footprint to leverage these opportunities
Craig, what attracted you to Martin and his firm?
Buffkin: After spending more than eight years as partners in our global group called Panorma, it became abundantly clear that Martin and I could build a business together that would be dedicated to our shared values and vision to take both firms to exciting new levels, and have fun doing it! He is of like mind, truly respected in the marketplace and the search industry and we share the same values personally.
Martin, same question.
Baker: Craig and I have known each other for eight or nine years now, and have worked together in a couple of different ways – both professionally and personally. The drive for excellence and truly serving clients the best that we can is a real strength. I like that Craig really invests in his team daily. He’s big on professional development and delivering high quality and attention to detail that drives a higher level of customer service. Craig is highly regarded across the country and globally for the leadership roles that he has recruited for in the search industry. We share an exciting common vision to advance a high quality search firm that delivers results for our clients. The timing, or this opportunity, couldn’t be better.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media