Room to Grow: Hughes Agency ready to expand in new, bigger office

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The staff of the Hughes Agency, with its founder, Velda Hughes, has met every Monday at 10 a.m. since it began | photo by Will Crooks

A single glass block picture frame sits on each employee’s desk in the new Hughes Agency office in Greenville. And that’s about it in terms of personalization.

Founder and President Velda Hughes says the uniformity and simplicity are deliberate.

“Clients come in, and the way we represent ourselves is why they’re hiring us,” Hughes says.

Every aspect of the new 110 E. Court St. office for the 16-year-old full-service public relations, marketing, and advertising agency has been strategic – from the clean, white décor and wall-to-wall windows to the very reasons for the move in the first place.

“For 20 years we had no windows,” Hughes says of the agency’s previous location in Poinsett Plaza at 104 S. Main St. “The light and sunshine give me more enthusiasm for my work.”

Each workstation in the new office is equipped with motorized adjustable desks | photo by Will Crooks

The Hughes Agency is located on the ground floor in the EP+Co building owned by Hughes Commercial Properties, of which Hughes’ husband, Jackson Hughes Jr., is the president. “At this stage, it made sense for my landlord to be my spouse,” she said. Her previous landlord, Phil Hughes of Hughes Investments, is Jackson Hughes’ cousin.

But beyond that, moving from 2,500 to 6,000 square feet positions the company for growth that the previous space couldn’t accommodate.

“We didn’t even have a place for people to sit,” Hughes says. “I couldn’t hire anybody.”

Hughes, who started a small public relations firm 32 years ago that laid the foundation for the current agency whose longtime clients include TD Bank and SYNNEX, says the company is now poised to bring on new clients in 2018, which will necessitate adding about five more employees to the 20-member staff. Hughes says she’s actively scouting new strategic talent.

The new reception area is open and airy, flooded with natural light | photo by Will Crooks

The agency also manages the Avenue rooftop event space in the same building. The venue, which opened in the spring, has booked 140 events for 2018.

In order to continue the forward momentum, Brandy Humphries, now in her 13th year with the agency, has been named COO, and Anna McNinch and Elise Nichols will serve as senior vice presidents for client services.

“We’ve been growing steadily over the years, but we were at a point that we just couldn’t take on more clients or work because we literally couldn’t fit any more people into the office space that we had,” Humphries says. “The move to the new office gives us the opportunity to bring in additional staff and grow our current client base.”

Newly named COO, Brandy Humphries | photo by Will Crooks

Humphries will be shifting her focus from client services to operations.

“Taking on more of the day-to-day responsibility of managing people and the overall client management helps to give Velda the ability to focus more on the overall vision and growth of the company,” she says.

Hughes says the firm will continue to enhance and increase services to its clients, connecting leaders in the business and philanthropic communities as she has for 32 years.

“When I think about Greenville today versus where it was 20 years ago, there’s a small handful of people I always think about in terms of what Greenville would look like if they weren’t here – people who have had a significant impact on where Greenville is today. And I absolutely put Velda in that list of people,” says David Lominack, South Carolina market president for TD Bank, a client for those 32 years.

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