“The rumor is true,” Kristi Dannelley tells Whispers. She’s acquired full ownership of Magna IV, a leading Little Rock print and marketing firm, from business partner Kent Middleton.
Middleton’s parents, Gary and Pat Middleton, founded the company in 1975, and Kent came up learning the business and sweeping the floors.
“Kent and I bought his parents out in 2015,” said Dannelley, long the company’s president but now adding CEO and owner to her title. “Kent has been around here for 45-plus years, ever since the company opened, and I’ve been here 22.”
Kent Middleton, whose father died in 2017, said in a statement that he expects Dannelley’s experienced leadership to keep the company’s momentum up. “While I will continue to be involved in sales and technology development, I look forward to using this new free time to relax with my wife at our vacation home.”
Dannelley said she’s reassured Middleton will “still be doing things to help us out.”
“He’ll keep us on the forefront of technology and have some senior account executive responsibilities,” she said.
Since absorbing a big blow early in the pandemic, when revenue swooned and clients like restaurants, fitness centers and event companies shut down, Magna IV’s revenue has rebounded. After laying off more than half of a staff of 62, 50 workers are now back, Dannelley said last week. “Many industries just shut down, but we began to see some rebound in summer, and another good rebound in the fall. But we got real lean, tightened our belt and pivoted as much as we could.”
A big part of the pivot was adding e-commerce order fulfillment and third-party logistics services to Magna’s big playbook. The company builds marketing portals for national chains and has stretched its e-commerce work into a business-to-business fulfillment model, Dannelley said. “We are a turnkey solutions company, and programmed business is probably 60% of what we do,” Dannelley said.
She expressed gratitude for the chance to build on the Middletons’ legacy. “Gary and Pat showed tremendous courage and tenacity when they founded Magna IV in 1975, and Kent has worked tirelessly to keep us on the leading edge,” Dannelley said. “I’m thankful he has agreed to assist with our continued technology development, and I couldn’t be more optimistic or excited about what our company’s future holds.”