Here are a few things that happened that year: The U.S. Department of Justice announced it would pursue an investigation of Enron; the first detainees after the 9/11 attack were sent to Quantanamo; Queen Elizabeth honored New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani with knighthood; the United Nations Security Council froze the assets of Osama bin Laden.
It was also the year when Gina Furia Rubel founded Furia Rubel Communications, her public relations and marketing business in Bucks County.
The South Philadelphia native was uniquely positioned to start the business – she had a corporate communications degree from Drexel and a law degree from Widener Delaware Law School. She came from a family of Philadelphia lawyers, her father, Richard F. Furia, and her grandfather, Judge Edward W. Furia. Gina worked as a lawyer for a few years – for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and a personal injury firm then for a few marketing and PR companies, where the idea to start her own business began to gel.
So in 2002, she did it. Her specialty, she decided, would be marketing for law firms. “Communications was one of my first loves,” she said recently. “It’s a natural extension of who I am.”
For many years, the legal professional shunned advertising as “unprofessional.” Prior to the late-1970s lawyers were not permitted to market themselves, but as the 21st century arrived, marketing became acceptable. In fact, Gina saw a need among lawyers, who were not accustomed to promoting their business and she found a niche as a person with an understanding of law and how the industry works.
In 2005, Gina and husband, C. Scott Rubel, moved to a farm in Doylestown and Gina became active in local organizations — the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, the Women in Business Forum, Pearl S. Buck International, the Lower Bucks Chamber of Commerce and others. She got involved with international legal marketing and law firm practice management associations and learned about law firm operations and legal technology.
The Rubels acquired a variance to allow outfitting a barn on their property as an office and Gina hired public relations and crisis communications experts, writers, graphic artists, and other staff to work next to her home. While the legal outreach grew to include local groups like the Bucks County Bar Association and local law firms, the business became a marketing partner to more than legal firms. It handled communications for the likes of Doylestown Health’s Pine Run Retirement Community, Michener Art Museum and the Mercer Museum, Eiseman Construction, and branded Bucks County’s Penn Community Bank and New Vitae Wellness and Recovery.
And Furia Rubel did the public relations legwork for the grand opening of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, a research center in Plumstead Township that developed from the Hepatitis B Foundation, originally located at Delaware Valley University. And there’s a “great legacy,” Gina said in handling public relations for three major malls in the area, including the giant Oxford Valley Mall in Middletown Township.“
The business was built on a foundation of what we had in our background. Working in Bucks County has been rewarding, knowing what good you could do,” Gina said. “One of the things we’ve never wanted to lose is the work we do locally.”
She talks about “so many great stories, so much opportunity here in Central Bucks, so much fun to know people.” She’s proud of her team – all of whom participate in nonprofit organizations. On the company’s 10th anniversary, Furia Rubel Communications created an adopt-a-road program operated by Doylestown Township, with 10 companies, each pledging to care for a one-mile stretch of road.
As with most businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact. The barn’s desks that were once occupied with staff, are now mostly empty. The business is totally virtual although some team members come in for camaraderie and collaboration from time to time. In many ways, the pandemic has worked in Furia Rubel’s favor. The environment has changed and so has her outlook. It’s more business to business she said, more focused on the bigger picture.
The local team is still working but others have joined the enterprise. “We have 12 employees located in five states,” Gina said. “The pandemic allowed us to diversify, to hire talent where the talent is, and it adds depth.”
The Rubels have a farm in Hilltown too where Scott was born and raised. Eventually they plan to move there but for the foreseeable future, they will stay in Doylestown where most of the business remains. Daughter Gianna, 22, a graduate of Bucknell is working at the Doylestown Animal Medical Clinic with her sights set on studying veterinary medicine at Penn. Their son, Ford, is in his second year at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md studying national security. His parents spend many weekends on the road all over the country following his rugby career.
Twenty years later, the business continues to grow, with a loyal staff behind it. “The way we communicate is always changing,” Gina said.
She thought of her father, her grandfather and staff and said, “I wouldn’t be here without any of them,” she said. And when the agency received the CBCC Business Achievement Award earlier this month, she said, “I wouldn’t be doing what I do without my Mom, Jo-Ann Furia.”