Rochester political strategy agency expands to Albany with new office

By  –  Reporter, Albany Business Review

A Rochester-based agency focused on political campaign strategy and association management has opened an Albany office with an eye on working with clients across the state.

The ROBEX Agency opened a second office last month at The Bull Moose Club near the state Capitol, led by Denise Murphy McGraw. McGraw is the former executive director of The Chamber Alliance of New York State and a partner with Hill, Gosdeck, McGraw & Nemeth, a public affairs firm.

The agency is the for-profit arm of the Builders Exchange of Rochester, a large construction industry agency. McGraw became involved with the organization almost 20 years ago as a contract lobbyist. At the start of 2022, she took over the for-profit part of the organization.

“The Robex Agency manages a dozen different associations. … They’re well ingrained in western New York, helping with and lifting up local Rochester associations and national associations like the Sheet Metal Contractors Association,” McGraw said. “It’s being able to replicate that in Albany and letting people know we’re there now. Letting smaller associations that are one person know that we can work with them on the back office or communications.”

The agency has a small team. McGraw said they have experience in campaign management and fundraising, including raising $15 million over the last few years. McGraw was also previously on the Niskayuna town board and was chairwoman of Upstate New York for Biden-Harris in 2020.

The agency is expanding its offerings to include leadership coaching and diversity, equity and inclusion training, partnering with the Rochester LeaderBuild and the Capital Region’s DH Horton & Associates.

McGraw said the agency sees immediate growth opportunities in two areas: association management and campaign management.

“Smaller associations are always looking for that help to bring economies of scale to their operations,” McGraw said. “We’re looking hard at what’s happening in redistricting. We’re already getting calls from political folks looking for help from fundraising or running campaigns or training of their volunteers … The lines are here, they know what their map is and what their district is going to be and they want to hit the ground running.”

The tough hiring environment is driving some interest too.

“A lot of associations are seeing a tough time in terms of hiring folks and are excited about the leadership training we can offer,” she said. “It’s difficult to hire folks no matter what you’re paying, let alone trying to attract people because they’re mission driven … We’re able to help folks, so they don’t have to hire a bookkeeper and event planner and 10 different people. It’s the co-op approach, we can help you manage all of those things.”