Vision 3 moves into new home, plans expansion: Ad agency grows by mixing technology with creativity

Since its founding three years ago, advertising agency Vision 3 has grown from two to 15 employees, and earlier this spring moved from a tiny office into an 8,000-square-foot building the company bought at 330 N. College Ave.

V3 founders Jeff Hopler and Eric Davis remodeled the building’s interior themselves, mixing the downtown structure’s historical feel with modern touches reflective of the company’s technological expertise.

Local peers see the move as a gamble, but the agency’s founders have become adept at meeting the challenges of running a small startup in a competitive industry.

“We opened the doors with no clients,” Hopler said of the company’s founding. “It was a big roll of the dice.”

Though company principals won’t divulge revenue, they said the building is a sign of their growth-current and projected.

V3 has built a reputation by leveraging the Internet and other technological tools for its clients, which include Roche Diagnostics, Abbot Laboratories, O’Reilly Raceway Park, Kite Cos., Lauth and Premier Properties.

The agency started by constructing and maintaining Web sites, but now handles a broader range of interactive media and creative marketing services, including video production, three-dimensional modeling and brand development.

Hopler and Davis aren’t your average ad executives. Even their titles are unusual. Hopler answers to art czar and Davis’ designation is multimedia Jedi.

Hopler, a Florida native, was a graphics guru and principal for locally based Innovative Edit, one of the city’s largest video and multimedia production firms. Before that, he was an on-air graphics designer for WRTV-TV Channel 6 and worked for the production arm of WXIN-TV Channel 59. While at WXIN’s production division, Hopler learned the art of client relations.

Davis is V3’s chief techie. Previously, the Brownsburg native worked for locally based interactive media developer Access Technology.

Through mutual friends and business associates, Davis and Hopler became acquainted about 10 years ago. They founded the agency in 2003 with the idea that they could mix the technological and creative sides of the business.

Hopler and Davis designed their new office to reflect the philosophy, locating creative and IT staff together.

“A big part of what we’ve done here is bring creative and techies together to work on projects seamlessly as a team,” Hopler said.

David Morton, principal with Sunrise Sports Group, a locally based advertising and marketing consultancy, said V3 is fast making a name for itself.

“These guys have carved out a unique niche for themselves using technology in a way few local firms have the experience to do,” Morton said. “I think they have the capabilities to draw a broad range of clients.”

Bruce Bryant, principal of locally based advertising agency Promotus Advertising and past president of Indianapolis AdClub, is impressed with V3’s early growth but says its long-term success is far from assured.

“As business changes and the Web and technologies mature, there are more business strategies that will move in that direction,” Bryant said. “They’re well positioned to take advantage of that.” But the local advertising industry is tightening as corporate headquarters move out of state and the auto industry downsizes. Other local advertisers-including electronics retailer Hhgregg Inc.-are hiring out-of-state agencies, further intensifying competition, Bryant said.

V3’s founders said they intend to launch a marketing campaign for their own firm this year and enlarge their footprint beyond Indiana.

“Several design shops are struggling,” Bryant said. “You have to wonder if this is a big enough niche for [V3] to survive or do they have the juice to bring in business from outside this market? Expanding outside this market can be difficult. To survive, they’ll have to be more than capable. They’ll have to be better than the next guy.”

Hopler and Davis promised to keep growth carefully calculated.

“We’ll grow by finding key individuals within specific industries,” Hopler said.

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