After a business breakup, a company owner regroups

NEW YORK (AP) — Whether it's business or personal, breaking up is hard to do. And after a split, rebuilding also has its challenges.

Ty Largo and business partner Stacy Pearson started a marketing and public relations firm but realized two years ago that they weren't a good fit and dissolved their company.

Largo started building his own firm to do the same kind of work, but he needed to replace the strengths that Pearson had brought to the business. She had a solid background in public relations, while Largo's expertise was more in design.

He realized he had to delegate many of his responsibilities so that he could focus on strengthening his own PR abilities. So one of his first steps was to hire someone to handle the administrative side of setting up the new business, which he named Salt Public Relations & Marketing. That work included setting up bank accounts, looking for office space in suburban Phoenix and registering the company's trademark.

"Her taking care of a lot of those technical details let me think about strategy," Largo says.

Largo also needed someone to handle the creative aspects of the business, designing art work and other parts of a marketing campaign. That freed him to concentrate on re-establishing connections with journalists, an essential part of public relations.

"If I really wanted to bulk up and fill that seemingly impossible hole in my business life, I'd have to take some design stuff off my plate," Largo says.

Largo began months of networking. He had to revive relationships that, as he put it, had gotten a little dusty. He had to remind people that he had experience in public relations, and that Salt offers a variety of marketing services.

He also had to reassure his clients that they would continue to get the same variety of services they got under Up Agency, the company that Largo and Pearson co-owned.

The effort that Largo put in has paid off. In two years, Salt has gone from two employees to nine full-time staffers and two part-timers. It has twice as many clients as when it began, and has expanded its geographic reach into many states in the West.

Largo says the hardest part of regrouping was the emotional pain of the breakup. He and Pearson were good friends when they went into business, but soon found they weren't suited to co-own a company. They didn't know how to be tough on each other, something business partners need to be at times.

But they're still friends, and Largo speaks of her with admiration. Her company is still called Up Agency, and does corporate public relations and crisis management.

"I'm so inspired by her work," Largo says.

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