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Members of the 2011 Partners + Napier team gather for a group photo before the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Corporate Challenge in Rochester.

At Partners + Napier, Corporate Challenge fun
is part of the growing agency's DNA

CEO Sharon Napier and Chief Creative Officer Jeff Gabel at the Partners + Napier tent in 2011.

ROCHESTER, May 29, 2012 — On May 31, Partners + Napier will clear out of its headquarters on Mill Street, almost as if the agency were conducting a fire drill. But, in this instance, the cause for the evacuation is not so alarming. It's the day of the 22nd annual JPMorgan Chase & Co. Corporate Challenge in Rochester.

"We're actually closing down the agency early the day of the event so we can all make it out to RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) on time," said accounting manager Lisa Manioci, who has served as the company captain for the agency for years.

Partners + Napier will join approximately 400 other Rochester-area companies at the 3.5-mile team road race and post-event party on the lush grounds of RIT. All told, nearly 9,000 runners and walkers will take part in what is easily the largest corporate outing of the year in the Rochester area.

For Partners + Napier, a growing creative ideas agency begun in 2004 by CEO Sharon Napier and her partners, the Corporate Challenge is an event that just fits with the company's DNA.

"The Corporate Challenge is a huge part of our culture at Partners + Napier," said Manioci. "We really look forward to it every year as one of our favorite traditions. It’s about coming together as an agency and a family in the spirit of a good cause, and sharing the event together. Most of us walk, jog, or run, and others man the tent as official cheerleaders."

The shared, out-of-the-office experience has one common theme — fun.

Meat Wagon
Meat Wagon crew members Matt Palmer (left), Max Brown (center), and Dean Milliman (in the red shirt) fire up the grill in 2011. It's anyone's guess about what they will create this year.

"The Partners + Napier tent is a thing of pride for our team — we deck it out with fun decorations and lots of healthy snacks (some not so healthy)," said Manioci. "And this year, anyone at the agency could submit designs for our Corporate Challenge t-shirts. We got a ton of great submissions.

"We even have a grilling team called the Meat Wagon that concepts a new meaty creation every year — last year’s was called the Cuban Missile, this year we only know it has something to do with “Hamageddon” or the “Aporkalypse,” Manioci added with a laugh. "It’s a great time."

Despite its short eight-year history, Partners + Napier has a surprisingly long history at the Corporate Challenge. That involvement can be traced in large part to the enthusiastic support for the event by the company's management team.

"Our senior leaders are heavily involved in the Corporate Challenge every year, whether they’re running or cheering the team on," said Manioci. "We always have 100 percent participation from our senior management team, and our CEO Sharon Napier and our chief strategy officer John Roberts are notoriously fast race runners.

"We’ve been participating in the Corporate Challenge for years, and there have been lots of memorable moments along the way — a lot of inspirational moments, too," added Manioci. "It’s so important to see your co-workers outside of the office. And if you can sweat it out next to them, even better."

More than any other Corporate Challenge on the 13-city, global circuit created to promote fitness and camaraderie in the workplace, Rochester is linked in recent years to rainbows and downpours that, if anything, have seemed to inspire the obviously hearty runners in upstate New York. That's certainly the case with Partners + Napier.

"We’ve seen torrential downpours, blazing hot days, and even surprise rainbows at the Corporate Challenge — every year brings new stories and memories,” said Manioci.

poster1 poster2
True to its character as a creative agency, Partners + Napier competed internally to recruit members for "teams." Above are two posters that popped up in the Rochester office for "Team Bob," led by agency president Bob Bailey.

Those years have been filled with innovation at Partners + Napier, whose focus is putting branding, advertising, digital, and shopper marketing expertise to work for its clients — a growing portfolio that includes Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Delta Private Jets, and Capital One. The company has full-service offices in Rochester and Atlanta, additional offices in New York and San Francisco, and recently became part of Project: WorldWide, an independent agency network inspired by a heritage in engagement marketing.

The years have also seen significant growth at the agency.

When Napier launched the agency in 2004, Partners + Napier had 40 employees. Today, the agency employs 150, an increase of almost 400 percent.

Of those, 62 are signed up to walk, jog or run the 2012 JPMorgan Chase & Co. Corporate Challenge. One suspects most of the rest will make their way to the campus of RIT to share in the fun.


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