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November 7, 2002

Speakers bureau founders building full-service agency

From: Nashville Business Journal, TN
Nov. 7, 2002

Joe Morris Nashville Business Journal

A new venture aims to bring more nationally known speakers to Music City for full-service representation.

The Nashville Agency, formed by the founders of the Nashville Speakers Bureau and Think Big Inc., is a "formality," say Tim Grable and Ron Miller. The two formed the speakers bureau in June 2001, as well as Think Big, a service-related concern. In the ensuing months, they began to notice that one area of client service wasn't under their purview.

"It really is just bringing together things we've been doing for a number of years," Grable says. "Sometimes, we got requests for speakers for events that weren't necessarily speaking engagements, things like book projects, movie rights, personal appearances, things that were really agents' work."

Grable and Miller decided to build a more formal agency to represent clients whose needs went beyond the scope of the speakers bureau. Although officially formed in May, the agency's first major score was a recent deal for client Sue Thomas, whose work as a deaf undercover agent for the FBI has been optioned by the PAX network for a new series, "Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye."

"Through the years I have witnessed, first-hand, the capabilities of these men," Thomas says. "When approached regarding a television series, it was so natural to empower my friends and say, 'Walk me through the process.' When working on two book projects, it was the team at the Nashville Agency leading me to New York City with the major publishing houses."

With an office here and a satellite site in Washington manned by Bruce Zalbe, who will manage the agency's sports and entertainment division, Grable and Miller say they hope to blend the various aspects of their businesses into a full-service venture. Grable says many speakers bureaus work primarily in either the corporate, secular or Christian markets. The Nashville Agency will seek to straddle that divide and work in its other services.

In addition to expanding their client base, the agency founders say they want to expand services to a full-time, 24/7 level.

"We want go grow this thing, offer services for products, scheduling for speakers, services for those who have signed with the agency," Miller says. "You can stand around all day and talk about generalities, but people want to know results.

"When we talk about the Sue Thomas project, or our work with columnist Cal Thomas, for whom we've secured the services of 15 other speakers bureaus in actually booking engagements, then people are intrigued.", 615 248-2222, ext. 112

© 2002 American City Business Journals Inc.