P.W. Feats Inc., a nearly 18-year-old Baltimore events-marketing firm, will buy two adjacent buildings in Mount Vernon to expand its operation, officials said yesterday.
The brownstones, at 3 and 5 E. Read St., will give the firm another 17,000 square feet of space in addition to the 35,000 square feet at its Russell Street location, which it will retain. Renovations are expected to start next month and to be completed in time to move in by late summer.
"It's so exciting," said Paul C. Wolman, P.W. Feats founder, chief executive and president. "We have been putting up with overcrowded space and no windows for offices and still producing great work. We just want that creative studio space. We're growing a number of pieces of our business simultaneously."
The event marketers expect to spend $800,000 to buy the two buildings, which formerly housed Baltimore Reads, the Goldseker Foundation and architectural firm Grieves, Worrall, Wright & O'Hatnick Inc. Another $500,000 to $700,000 will be spent on renovations.
The move to Mount Vernon marks a return to the neighborhood where the event company started in 1985, on Charles Street, Wolman said.
"As we've evolved into more of a national company, we're increasingly teaming with partners from other cities like New York, Chicago and Boston," said Ric Hughes, chief operating officer. "It's helpful for us to have teaming space, so they can live with us for a month or so."
P.W. Feats has doubled its staff in the past four years to 44 employees, Wolman said. Revenue for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, already has more than doubled over fiscal 2002, according to company officials.
The company expects sales of $12 million to $15 million, Wolman said.
P.W. Feats stages formal galas, product launches, and incentive and motivational events on budgets that can top $5 million.
Recently, the firm staged a Renaissance-themed night in a Barcelona, Spain, castle for a client's incentive program. It also handled the grand opening of Crayola's first retail store in Arundel Mills mall in Hanover and events related to the opening of the International Spy Museum in Washington.
Other clients have included L'Oreal, Campbell's, Johns Hopkins, the Clinton White House and Verizon Wireless.
Once the firm's new buildings are ready, 30 employees will move to Read Street, Wolman said. The additional space would allow the hiring of 20 more employees, he said.
"As we transform from a company that has a mid-Atlantic footprint to one that has more of a national focus, the question becomes, do we add more people here or in other cities across the country?" Hughes said. "This is the natural transformation of a company that's developed incredible capabilities. We're sprinkling the right ingredients in the mix to allow the transformation to continue. Clearly we're not thinking of being a purely local company five years from now."
Already, as much as 60 percent of the company's work is done outside of Baltimore, Wolman said.
P.W. Feats is considering some potential acquisitions, Hughes said. He declined to provide details.
"They're starting to grow up pretty fast," said John Baragona, publisher of Event Solutions magazine.
"They've always had this vision of experiential marketing as the wave of the future. I think that has come to pass, and that's meant good things for their company."
Baragona said that corporate executives have discovered the value and power of events to attain marketing and branding goals and have come to rely on companies that can create a memorable experience for their customers. That industry, known as experiential marketing, is a billion-dollar industry, he said.
"As soon as the economy comes back up, I think it's going to explode," he said.
More than 40 potential sites were considered before P.W. Feats executives made the decision on the Read Street buildings, which feature decks and ledges, perches and wings, company officials said.
"It will be a total experience just living, working and visiting the building," Wolman said. "We deliver experiential marketing. For us, this is experiential living."