W. B. Doner Chairman Herb Fried is selling his majority stake in the advertising firm, a move that technically will mean the loss of yet another headquarters in Baltimore as the sole responsibility for the company shifts to Detroit.
Fried's undisclosed number of shares in the privately held company will be sold to a Doner management group headed by Doner's chief executive officer, Alan Kalter, who will become chairman March 1. At that time, Baltimore will no longer be a co-headquarters for the company, which has grown into an international presence with billings next year expected in excess of $850 million.
"It's certainly time to pass on the baton," said the 70-year-old Fried, who will become a consultant to the company, handling such major accounts as J. C. Penney's Eckerd drugstore chain, Stroh's Brewery in Detroit and British Petroleum. In addition, he will help spearhead the company's efforts to expand through acquisition.
Under company bylaws, only full-time employees are allowed to own stock. Fried's decision to become a consultant instead of a full-time employee required him to sell his stake.
In December, an interoffice memo circulated at Doner about Fried's intentions, apparently setting off some speculation that the Baltimore office might close. But Kalter said yesterday that the change will have no impact on the 175 employees who work in Doner's downtown Baltimore office, the company's second largest.
"These changes don't affect the rest of the employees," Kalter said.
The Baltimore office, at 400 E. Pratt St., has been a co-headquarters for Doner, which now has 750 employees around the world, but it had retained that designation only because of Fried's presence here. Tony Everett, president of Doner Direct, a direct-mail subsidiary of Doner, will become general manager of the agency's Baltimore-based general advertising accounts as well as oversee office operations.
Fried, who joined Doner 44 years ago, became the company's majority owner and chairman in 1990 when Brod Doner, the company's founder, died. A Chicago native, he began his career at Chicago-based Foote, Cone & Belding where he worked for five years before moving to Edward H. Weiss, where he handled the Jim Beam Whiskey account.
In 1955, he joined Doner and took over the National Brewing Co. account. Over the years, he has helped build Doner from a largely local and regional company to a national and international presence, adding big name accounts, such as the $240 million deal last year with Mazda Motor Corp.
Founded in 1937, Doner has offices in Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, London, Montreal, Tampa and Toronto as well as in Detroit.
Pub Date: 1/30/98