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September 18, 2017

BlueHive merges with boutique marketing firm

PHOTOS/COURTESY Paul Hanlon, the founder of BlueHive, and Lisa Woodford, who started Paris Marketing, found quickly that their companies' styles matched.

Paul Hanlon has spent decades in marketing and has ambitions that lead him to regularly eye competitors to potentially team with. Lisa Woodford began her own marketing agency five years ago after a career in marketing at larger firms.

It took only a year of the two companies working together for Hanlon to make a pitch: Why not combine the two Worcester agencies? On a handshake, Hanlon's BlueHive and Woodford's Paris Marketing became one.

Paris moved into BlueHive's space just off Goddard Memorial Drive on Sept. 1 and quickly settled into the building.

“It was serendipity,” Hanlon said. “It was all timing.”

BlueHive and Paris Marketing will keep their separate names and books but under the BlueHive parent company will share resources and complement each other's specialties.

True partners

BlueHive, the much larger of the two, has more of a social media and video expertise. In part through its subsidiary, Continental Woodcraft, it has a long experience creating millwork and presentation spaces for clients. Paris works with service companies like law firms, insurance companies and certified public accountant agencies.

Their cultures were the same, but their respective work didn't overlap.

“We were true partners from the beginning,” Woodford said. “The transition, the merger, it was all very seamless.”

Hanlon started BlueHive in 2005 after earlier success afforded him some time off. He sold his first company, Folio Exhibits, which made convention presentation books. But his former colleagues later came to him and pitched him on a plan, that if he were to start up another company again, they'd join in. BlueHive was started a year later.

The trade-show component remains from Hanlon's earlier days in the industry, but BlueHive has added in recent years a digital marketing department called BlueHive Media that includes a full-time video designer — not typical for a firm of its size that might otherwise have to farm out video work.

Humor, and guts

Hanlon considered other mergers before, but he said Woodford and the rest of the Paris team had the ambition to match his own team's and a younger staff that brings new ideas.

Woodford worked for years for law firms and other larger agencies before two Achilles injuries forced her to consider a transition. Five years ago this summer, she started Paris on Hope Avenue in South Worcester to provide marketing to law firms, CPA firms and others.

She has a sense of humor, too. Paris is named not after the city but after the mythical Greek man of the same name who shot Achilles in the heel with an arrow.

Both companies wanted to stick with their names that earned them recognition, and the two will remain separate by name. The combined company has nearly 100 workers, with the seven that have come on from Paris.

About a year ago, BlueHive reached out to Paris to look for a marketing partner, and the two worked together on a more informal basis. It took hardly any time until Hanlon knew he found a partner to work with more officially.

“She showed me she had the guts to make hard decisions,” Hanlon said.

Woodford sees the relationship in it-was-meant-to-be terms, too.

“We were very lucky to have found each other,” she said.

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