Capital City Consulting: 'Special Forces' in Tallahassee Lobbying
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Although the firm got its start only 10 years ago, Capital City Consulting has risen to prominence in Florida as one of the top lobbying firms in the state, putting them at No. 2 on Sunshine State News’ list of Top Lobbyists in Florida.
Last year, five lobbyists worked at the Tallahassee-based firm, which brought in $3.1 million in legislative fees, or about $611,000 per lobbyist.
Co-founder of Capital City Consulting Nick Iarossi began his career in government 16 years ago when he worked in the Florida House of Representatives. Afterwards, he worked in the Florida Senate and then was a law clerk at the Department of Insurance. Iarossi worked in private practice handling government relations until he decided to open Capital City Consulting with Gerald Wester and Ron LaFace, Jr. in 2003.
Capital City partner Gerald Wester has over 27 years of experience as a lobbyist. He worked as a private sector governmental consultant after a 12-year career in insurance regulation, where he served in various management positions within Florida’s Insurance Department, including 4 years as chief of the regulatory staff.
Although the firm has only been in the business for a few short years, Iarossi told Sunshine State News the firm’s success can be attributed to being skilled in both politics and in policy.
“The reason why we’ve been able to grow so quickly and be so successful and results-oriented is that we take both [politics and policy] very seriously,” he explained. “We are effective fund raisers, we are good at building relationships, we understand how to work the political system, but we take the policy and substance side just as seriously as we do the political side.”
Iarossi said the firm is on track to make over $1 million in additional revenue in 2013.
When it comes to Capital City’s clients, the firm represents a wide variety. Last year one of their biggest clients was health care giant Aetna, but others included Office Depot, Metro PCS, the School District of Palm Beach County and Las Vegas Sands Corp. The firm’s average client retainer was $42,000.
The firm may be small, but no matter, says Iarossi. What they lack in size, they make up for in specialization, experience and strategy.
“Our philosophy is different in that we focus on hiring very talented professionals and are very driven to work hard and to win. Because we’re not focused on having a lot of bodies [working], the people that come in here need to be effective people who can...handle large volumes,” he said. “Rather than hiring an army of lobbyists to scour the Capitol, we’re more akin to the special forces. We’re more tactical, strategic and nimble. You don’t always see us coming.”
What makes Capital City Consulting different from other lobbying firms, Iarossi contends, is their strategic growth both in client selection and how the firm works with clients on the legislative floor.
“As opposed to acquiring books of business to grow, we’ve tried to grow very strategically over the years by hiring very talented people who are admired and strong professionals and let our success do the talking,” he said.
“We want to grow, and we’ll continue to grow. We’ll hire very effective people as necessary, but our goal isn’t just to add as many clients as we possibly can...We are very much about tailoring [our strategy] to each specific client’s need as opposed to a cookie-cutter approach to lobbying. I think that sets us apart.”
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.