Westminster acquired by U.S. firm, renamed Upshot

Westminster International, a direct and Web marketing service bureau that's found a way to link direct mail back to the Internet using personalized URLs, is hoping to take its proprietary technology to the States with the help of its new U.S....

Westminster International, a direct and Web marketing service bureau that’s found a way to link direct mail back to the Internet using personalized URLs, is hoping to take its proprietary technology to the States with the help of its new U.S. parent.

Last month, the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based firm was acquired by Ha-Lo Industries, a diversified marketing and promotional products company based in Chicago. Under the terms of the deal, Westminster will be rolled into the direct marketing silo of Upshot, Ha-Lo’s brand marketing agency. The Canadian operation will simply be known as Upshot, not Upshot Canada.

Terry Shane, president of Westminster, which he founded in 1982, becomes Upshot’s chief technology officer, reporting directly to president Max Coats.

Explaining why he chose to sell his company to a U.S. organization, Shane says it made the most sense, given the tremendous opportunities for growth in the U.S.

‘The numbers lie in the U.S., but we didn’t really have access to that market,’ he says. ‘Upshot and all the various Ha-Lo divisions have client relationships that, in our wildest dreams, we would never be able to have an entry into. We now have connections that never existed for us otherwise.

‘We were never looking to sell the company in the first place,’ he adds, ‘but we started talking to each other and we did some joint pitches together and it became a very obvious fit.’

Shane says Westminster will continue to serve its Canadian clients, although the primary focus of new client acquisitions will be in the U.S. market.

Coats, however, says the firm is still looking to expand its Canadian client base. He says Upshot will target financial services, technology and dot-com companies based here.

Ha-Lo’s current client roster includes Absolut Vodka, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, General Electric and Seagram.

Westminster’s patented technology was a main driver behind the recent acquisition, Coats says. Specifically, Westminster’s YourMail Technology, which allows marketers to initiate communication with consumers via direct mail,

e-mail or telemarketing, and subsequently direct them to fully personalized unique Web URLs, was particularly attractive, he says.

According to Coats, the acquisition of Westminster and its YourMail technology helps to round out Ha-Lo’s overall ‘e-transformation strategy’, an initiative designed to expand the digital marketing services side of its business.

‘What we’ve got is really unique in the direct marketing field,’ Shane adds. ‘Very few people who are ‘into’ the Internet really understand direct mail and direct marketing, but we obviously do. It puts us in a very unique vertical niche.’