It took 10 years for the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University to induct a woman into its Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame — but boy, did they choose wisely.
Shannon Morris, president and owner of Sigma Group — one of New Jersey's top advertising agencies — was honored with the recognition at her alma mater in September.
The only question: What took so long?
Clearly, Sigma Group's 500 percent growth and increase in staff from eight to 60 members has had a lot to do with Morris since she joined the then 13-year old agency in 1999.
And in 2012, after serving for nine years as partner, Morris acquired the company only to further increase its yearly revenue by 18 percent and its client list by eight.
“The decision to buy the agency came over a three-year period, and at one point, it just felt right,” Morris said. “I believed in what we had done here — and I believed in myself enough to take the leap.
“I felt very confident in what we were doing for our growing companies and the ability to build upon those relationships.”
Sigma Group is widely known for its award-winning and highly successful campaigns for nationwide and international brands including Panasonic, Pert Plus, Rita's Italian Ice, Huntingdon Learning Centers and Wyndham Worldwide.
And, according to Morris, 86 percent of Sigma Group's business is comprised of repeat clients that have been with the agency for five years or more.
“The fact that we've been working with Panasonic for 13 years is really a testament to our focus on performance,” Morris said.
Now, in its efforts to focus on long-term expansion and growth within the state of New Jersey, Morris led Sigma Group's relocation from Oradell to Upper Saddle River in February.
“To compete as an agency against larger shops in the country, your office space needs to present a whole story for your brand,” Morris said. “We were ready to upscale in Bergen County to a far less limiting space.”
Sigma Group's new, edgy digs include a state-of-the-art production studio for video and photography, collaborative working environments and, most importantly, a wellness room designed for employees to integrate stress-release into their work routine.
“We encourage employees to fit in fitness during the workday with programs like yoga and boot camp, as well as rewarding great effort with bonus days and encouraging directors to be in tune with their teams to offer more meaningful rewards to help achieve work-life balance,” Morris said.
Initiatives such as flex time work arrangements and maternity leave-to-work transitional time programs also help contribute to Sigma Group's more than 65 percent female employee ratio and a six-to-three female-to-male ratio on the executive leadership team.
Morris has proven she can provide the leadership needed — in 2013, she was named one of New Jersey's Best 50 Women in Business by NJBIZ.
Two years prior, she was inducted into the New Jersey Advertising Hall of Fame.
“It was a moment I was proud to share with my daughters,” Morris said. “All of the other fellow nominees were men — so it was even more special that one of the top agencies in New Jersey was female-led.”
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THE BIZ IN BRIEF
NAME: Sigma Group
LOCATION: Upper Saddle River
OWNER: Shannon Morris
ONE MORE THING: During Morris’ reign, Sigma Group has earned a spot in Inc. Magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies list for five years straight; the No. 1 ranking for advertising agencies in New Jersey by AdWeek magazine; the top small agency in the Northeast by the publication Advertising Age; and a nomination for the Top Creative Campaign of the Decade.