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Assembly co-founder and CEO Martin Cass likes to tell the story about the agency's humble beginnings just four years ago. Cass, Michael Nicholas (now chief entrepreneur in residence for MDC Media Partners) and Michael Day (now MDC Media's chief financial officer) crashed at a sister MDC agency, working at tables bought hastily at Walmart and, ahem, borrowing Wi-Fi from the coffee shop downstairs. And this was after some initial tumult, as the agency began as a mishmash: Parent MDC Partners merged RJ Palmer and TargetCast to form Assembly in 2014, and also rolled two other MDC media companies, Doner Media and Integrated Media Solutions, into the group.

"You want chaos? You try to do four mergers in a year," says Cass.

But living up to its name, the agency has fit the pieces together. In 2017, Assembly says, it saw a 12 percent year-over-year increase in revenue and scored more than 10 new clients, including Transamerica and Belkin, as well as the consolidated Boehringer Ingelheim account, all totaling $500 million in new billings.

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