Gibraltar Associates, founded in 2007, sought to differentiate itself from a host of larger, longer-established public affairs firms—particularly those that operate as part of full-service multinational communications holding companies—with the promise that the principals of the firm would lead account work, that even smaller clients would never get lost, that campaigns would be tailored to individual circumstances rather than drawn from a pile of pre-packaged ideas.

It’s a promise that has attracted some high-profile clients, from Dole Foods (Gibraltar has been working on a campaign to address the obesity epidemic by donating salad bars to public schools) to the Pool Safety Council (national communications to raise awareness of new safety regulations) to NGVs Now (increasing support for natural gas-powered vehicles) to GeoEye (helping the geospatial imaging solutions company secure a $4 billion government contract). It has also attracted top talent, like former chairman of the US public affairs practice at Burson-Marsteller Jim Lake, who says he was attracted by the opportunity to focus on client work rather than new business development.

Lake, who serves as president and partner, joins an impressive senior line-up that includes co-founders Eric Bovim (who brings experience in journalism, on Capitol Hill and with public affairs powerhouse DCI Group) and Thomas Pernice (a veteran of the Reagan and Bush administrations who leads the firm’s west coast presence); chief operating officer Kelley McCormick (who joined from Qorvis Communications); partner Terry Wade (formerly of Burson and Cohn & Wolfe, who sold his firm to Gibraltar last year); and senior vice president Dan Doherty, who also joined through The Wade Group acquisition.

Together, they allow Gibraltar to deliver expertise in advocacy and coalition management, consumer safety issues, crisis communications, digital and social media, grassroots mobilization, and litigation communications, in addition to traditional public relations and public affairs. And they have particular experience in the pharmaceutical and healthcare arenas, as well as in nutrition and wellness and technology.

Gibraltar has been growing at a healthy pace, ending 2010 with fees of around $4 million, up 10 percent over the previous year.