Ann Savage lost a friend but never lost sight of the vision the two of them shared when co-founding BG Creative Marketing Solutions in West Palm Beach.
She started her company in a construction trailer, sharing a small desk in the back corner with her business partner. They had one client. Today, the advertising and digital marketing agency boasts an office in the heart of West Palm Beach that serves medical centers, resort properties and retail outlets throughout South Florida.
For Ann Savage, the past 25 years at BG Creative Marketing Solutions have brought a slew of successes. The company’s sole client since has multiplied to 30, many of them long-term.
“There are lasting relationships with our clients,” Savage says. “I think that fosters very much a sense of what we’ve attained.”
The president and media director, who co-founded the agency with the late Gina Boner, has remained true to its original mission: to put those they represent first and foremost.
“We really work hard to provide a very proactive approach,” Savage says. “We talk about the differences between being a partner and a vendor, and try to embrace all that that means.”
As their path to prominence unfolded, tragedy struck. Boner was diagnosed with colon cancer, fought it for six years and lost the battle in 1999 at age 42. Savage’s voice still shakes when she speaks about the untimely death.
“I very much was driven by her,” Savage says. “She was a very dear friend, but she also was just a beautiful person.”
Savage worked with the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties to establish a scholarship in Boner’s name for students who want to study advertising and marketing.
“That is still in place,” Savage says of the Gina Auditore Boner Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a female high school senior.
Now that Boner was gone, Savage found herself in the precarious position of having to run a booming business without her closest confidant. She relocated to Leesburg, Virginia, with her husband, Nick, who took a consulting job in the area.
“That was a very difficult time not only personally but from a business standpoint,” says Savage, who still operates from home and commutes to West Palm Beach one week each month. “I had to consider how the agency would go forward. Gina and I built this, and there was no way I could walk away from it.”
Instead, she breathed new life into it by embracing social media, web technology and other advents of an evolving industry.
“We had to rethink it all,” Savage remembers. “It was exciting. It still is exciting. Even though I’m 55, I’m finding that enjoyment with new things.”
The mother of two whose son Shane, 27, joined the agency in 2015 has been BG Creative Marketing Solutions’ driving force for the past 17 years—with a little help from above.
“There’s a lot of feeling Gina’s presence among us,” Savage says. “We still say things like, ‘Gina would love this.’ She stays with us in many ways, and a lot of what we do is dedicated to her. She is looking down and saying, ‘Look at you guys,’ or she is screaming, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’”