Ad agency NDP sold to NoVA-based investor as co-founders retire

Amy Baril is leading NDP as president along with CEO Brent Morris, right, ahead of the pending retirements of founders Roger Neathawk, center, and Susan Dubuque, not pictured. (BizSense file photos)

As they look toward retirement in the coming months, the “N” and “D” in local ad firm NDP are leaving the longtime Richmond agency in the hands of a new owner.

Roger Neathawk and Susan Dubuque, along with co-owner Charles Miller, have sold the agency they founded 37 years ago as they prepare to depart the firm around the end of the year.

NDP’s new owner is Madhavi Doki, a Northern Virginia-based entrepreneur and investor who owns Insigma Inc., an IT staffing firm in Rockville, Maryland.

The NDP transaction closed Oct. 25. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A search for potential buyers led the agency to Doki, who was looking to invest in an ad agency to help market Insigma and other businesses, NDP CEO Brent Morris said. NDP engaged Generational Equity, a national M&A firm based in Dallas, in its search.

“She was specifically looking for a marketing and advertising agency to acquire,” Morris said of Doki. “She’s got multiple businesses and wants us to essentially be the agency that helps them with advertising and marketing. She’s looking at it as an investment, but it gives us an opportunity as well.”

NDP’s building at 2912 W. Leigh St. in Scott’s Addition.

Neathawk said Doki was selected over others because she wanted to keep the agency operating as-is. He said the deal was mutually appealing because she could supervise from afar with NDP’s leadership team remaining in place.

Doki was not made available for an interview, as Morris said she’d asked them to speak for the company. A release announcing the sale quoted Doki as saying: “I am very impressed by everything about NDP – the leadership, the culture, the client portfolio and the team’s dedication to deliver a high-quality product that achieves the desired outcomes. It is a privilege to invest in this first-rate agency.”

The change in ownership will result in no changes for NDP, Morris said, save for one: the promotion of Amy Baril to agency president. A five-year employee, Baril was previously executive vice president of consumer engagement, a role she assumed around the time that Morris was named CEO in 2019.

Since then, when the firm was regrouping after several rounds of layoffs in the wake of two large account losses, the roughly 30-person agency has held steady businesswise despite the pandemic, Morris said.

He said the agency pulled in $22 million in gross revenue last year and is on track to surpass that by the end of this year. Its client roster includes the Virginia Lottery, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia State Police, Chesapeake Bank and The Jefferson Hotel.

In addition to its Scott’s Addition headquarters, which the agency will maintain through the ownership change, NDP has employees in Roanoke and in Long Island, New York.

Dubuque and Neathawk in 2016, when they were named Richmond’s Ad Persons of the Year.

For Neathawk and Dubuque, the sale brings to an end a nearly four-decades run leading NDP, an acronym of its previous name: Neathawk, Dubuque and Packett. The third name refers to the Roanoke-based Packett Group that the agency acquired in 2004.

“We are incredibly grateful for the many people who helped us to get where we are today,” Neathawk said. “It truly has been a community support effort that has kept us going for 37 years.”

“We’re particularly thrilled that we were able to turn the agency over to two people who just have done an outstanding job for us,” he said of Morris and Baril. We know they’re going to continue to make us proud as they move NDP to whole new heights.”

Baril, whose duties of late have included guiding development of Neathawk360, the agency’s media planning and buying division, said Neathawk and Dubuque’s imprint on the firm will live on beyond their names and initials.

“We’re proud of everything that Roger and Susan have established for us, and we’re looking forward to continuing that legacy,” she said.

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Susie Hayman
Susie Hayman
28 days ago

Roger and Susan, Congratulations to both of you! Having worked with both of you on so many levels, I’m proud to say that I knew you when and know you now. I’ve loved watching you be successful and wish you all the best in your retirement adventures.

28 days ago
Reply to  Susie Hayman

Thanks Susie!!

Mark Whiting
Mark Whiting
27 days ago

Susan and Roger,
I’m so happy for you both! It has been such a pleasure knowing and working with you both over the years. You and the work of the agency have contributed so much the the Richmond creative scene. Best of luck with your well-deserved retirement!