Executive Suite: Ernie Canadeo, Melville

Ernie Canadeo, president of EGC Group, a Melville-based Ernie Canadeo, president of EGC Group, a Melville-based marketing and digital services firm, in his office on March 13, 2014. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Over the past 29 years, Ernie Canadeo, president of Melville-based EGC Group, has seen other advertising and marketing agencies come and go on the Island. To survive and prosper for almost three decades, EGC has changed with the times, notably by embracing digital media early on, says Canadeo, who started EGC in 1985 in a friend's warehouse.

Agencies that disappeared "didn't anticipate how quickly digital would evolve and become the center of marketing and the customer experience," he says.

EGC started as a media buying agency as a natural offshoot of Canadeo's previous experience as director of cooperative advertising for RCA Records. It quickly evolved into a full-service advertising and marketing agency as customer demand grew, and in 1997 Canadeo started EGC Interactive, the firm's digital arm. The agency opened a Manhattan office last year.

EGC was recently named by The Agency Post, an online publication for ad, PR and marketing professionals, as one of the 100 fastest growing U.S. ad agencies. How does that feel?

It feels great because we were one of the oldest firms on the list, and it's a tribute to having a terrific team of marketing professionals who deliver great customer experiences for our clients.

A recent small-business survey found 65 percent of Long Island firms still aren't using social media tools to communicate with clients and customers. Do you find it's still a tough sell?

It's becoming an easier sell. Many of them know that they should be in social media but don't know how. I think more retail and consumer businesses are using social media, where more B-to-B companies are not.

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Two years ago, your firm started the Long Island Digital Summit. What's the impetus behind that?

We started it because with the loss of the [now defunct] Long Island Advertising Club, I felt there was a need for Long Island marketers to have an event to bring them together with national speakers and showcase Long Island as a leading marketing center. Each year, we've had over 400 attendees. We've brought in speakers from Facebook, Google, Yelp, Mashable, LinkedIn and AOL, many of whom will also be speaking this year.

What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business on Long Island?

Hiring. We compete with Brooklyn and New York City for talent, and many younger people view Brooklyn and NYC as more desirable places to live and work. In addition to talent, we look for people who can problem-solve, work well with others and who fit our culture.

What do you do to relax?

I'm a huge music fan. I enjoy going to live concerts . . . playing the guitar and spending time looking at colleges with my twin 16-year-old boys.

The Digital Summit is Tuesday at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. For information, go to lidigitalsummit.com.

CORPORATE SNAPSHOT

Name: Ernie Canadeo, president and founder of the EGC Group in Melville

What it does: A full-service marketing and digital agency

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Employees: 60

Revenue: $6.8 million

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