What a party!
The Speakeasy and Metallic Lounge were abounding with clients, partners, friends and fellow staff members.
Twenty years brings with it many memories and the often untold tales from the beginning to the present and all points in between. I prepared a speech for the evening, but never got to the delivery so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share it—and chronicle a bit more of the firm’s history—with you in this blog post. As you read this, you may recognize some of the names mentioned as many of them were at the celebration.
A Love Affair Begins
Thirty years ago in November, I began my love affair with Pittsburgh (thanks, Terri, for saying it first) when Dennis Moran picked me up at the William Penn hotel to interview me for a job. He ultimately became my mentor for design and business. After a four-year gig with Adam Fillipo and Moran, I moved on to BD&E where I first worked with Jeff Piatt. Fran Esteban, Bob Denmarsh and Jeff helped mold a design aesthetic and business ethic that gave me the confidence to strike out on my own. That was the business end of things. Before all of that, on the personal side, Stella Ann had warmed my heart on a snowy Hidden Valley Sunday evening. Knowing that her work as a nurse educator at Children’s Hospital would always keep us fed, an engagement ring appeared in a bucket of chestnuts in her mother’s backyard.With a “Yes” from her, there was no looking back and Scott Pipitone Design (SPD) was born in 1992.
The great work had begun. Our long lasting relationship with PPG began with Frank Schiffman, who requested the PittClor label redesign for their chlorine products; a product line we are still working on today. Stella was working full-time, going for her Masters degree and helping with the accounting, while Jessie the Collie watched diligent guard. Time to find the next office as the business expanded.The Lookout Point “office” consumed our living room / dining room offering a spectacular vista of Pittsburgh. Every startup business needs an investor and Jeff Barber loaned the money for our first Apple computer and printer. Terri Glueck, then at the Central Blood Bank, was our first paying customer for whom we created a poster series campaign for blood donors.Planting Roots
Looking for a home, Dave Gilbreath and Lynn Schraf steered us towards Observatory Hill. Stella and I fell in love with our Riverview home, which had ample room for office space and, more importantly, raising of a family. The business and family grew, 7 employees, 2 children, 2 cats, Jessie and Stella, so the time came to look beyond our home.Tony Aulicino became a guiding force in accounting and business during this time, offering advice to help expand the business and its footprint. The neighborhood owned a building; John Burke of the URA shaped the financing to move SPD in on November of 2000. There were many talented people, Shelly, Lisa, John, Sunny, Dennis, Pam, Scott, Jeff and others; the only downside to moving, they would no longer smell Stella’s sauce on Riverview Ave.
A Man On a Mission
The mission, “Always evolving, ever growing and constantly learning while doing great work with great people” became the guiding force for growth. Augie was first to lead (and still does) our interactive practice, from graphic designers creating code to true programming web functionality. Then Francine joined, becoming the anchor for our bookkeeping and office management. Paul has moved the Public Relations practice to more global Communications, understanding the digital side of social media and analytics. Kim started as interactive project manager extraordinare and went on to lend a new level of service to Account Services. Arnie helped transform SPD to Pipitone Group, bringing channel marketing to light while carving a differentiating niche. All of them, and others, encouraging the evolution of a small graphic design firm to a fully committed integrated marketing agency.
The recession of 2009 brought economic reality to all businesses. But no reality was more poignant or painful than that of Stella’s passing after a valiant fight with breast cancer. In her last months, she knew that bringing Jeff into Pipitone Group would spark the agency, bringing his creativity, energy and friendship. She told us so. Jeff joined Pipitone Group, bringing some of his talented coworkers along with him. It was time to grow our offering—and our people—to become a leading force in the Pittsburgh community. Old friends can bring stability and support, as was evident in Marc Newman, my best friend in high school, helping us build a financial structure that helped us to understand and forecast the opportunities of the business. Part of that forecasting brought Gary Adams, Ron Moehler and the talented Vance Wright Adams team to merge with Pipitone Group. Rachel has supported my kids and me, lending the security to forge ahead with this venture. And Gray, Gianna and Gunnar for understanding their father’s passion for building this business and riding the waves. Thank you to all who have helped grow this business and this place called Pipitone Group.
Accomplishing Our Mission
We stand today a creative, competent and successful agency, working every day to bring marketing solutions to our customers. I often talk about the people here, now and before, and their passion for great work with great people. For more than 20 years, this passion has extended beyond these doors to our clients, partners, suppliers, friends and family, all supporting our mission. Looking forward, Pipitone Group will be a place where we come together from different walks of life to laugh, create, toil and build…satisfying a deep yearning for finding success with our great work. And along the way, finding some smiles, good food and spirits to build upon the contagious energy of the great people we are associated with every day.
p.s. A special thanks to all who made the 20th Anniversary bash a success. Thommy Conroy for the decorations and vision that made the night not an event, but an experience; Parkhurst Dining for totally satisfying our palettes with culinary delights and good spirits; Courtney and her husband Brian for bringing and manning the photo booth (check out the photos below!); and especially the Pipitone Group planning committee of Dayna, Gino, Joanne, Mark and Courtney for leading the charge in creating a memorable evening.