Doner plans to transfer Baltimore chief to Detroit

Everett will still run direct-marketing arm

July 24, 1999|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

A year and a half after demoting its Baltimore office from a co-headquarters to a division, Doner advertising agency said yesterday that the head of its office here is being transferred to the home office in Detroit.

Tony Everett will move to Detroit near the end of the year but will remain president of Doner Direct, the firm's locally based direct-advertising arm. The office, which has 140 employees, handles direct-response television and print ads -- those that prompt consumers to call a toll-free number or log onto a Web site to find out more about a product -- and direct mail.

The move should not be seen as a phaseout of Baltimore operations, Everett said.

"Quite the contrary," he said. "This is a tremendous opportunity to develop the direct-advertising business with our Detroit office and accelerate the growth of Doner Direct by opening up a Detroit office of Doner Direct. This is really a no-change announcement."

Everett, 54, said he is the only one leaving the Baltimore office, although once he gets settled in Detroit he might bring more employees there.

For now, the firm is looking to hire about a dozen people in Baltimore to help handle Progressive Auto Insurance and ADT Home Security, accounts it recently landed. The two accounts will add about $100 million in new billings. Doner, whose clients include Coca-Cola, La-Z-Boy and Mazda North American Operations, has about $1 billion in billings and 840 employees.

Doner, formerly known as W. B. Doner & Co., was founded in Detroit in 1937. In 1955, Herbert Fried opened a Baltimore office. He was named president in 1968 and chairman in 1973. In January last year, he announced that he was selling his shares of the privately held firm and resigning his post. The move meant that Baltimore was no longer on a par with Detroit and no longer a co-headquarters.

Alan Kalter, who became chairman upon Fried's departure, said at the time that the change would have no impact on Doner's 175 Baltimore employees. A month later, the company announced it was restructuring and fired 24 employees here.

"Our focus is on serving our clients. As time goes by and as the need arises, yes, we may well call on the expertise in Baltimore," Everett said yesterday. "Right now, it's just me that's moving. Our emphasis is on maintaining business in this office, and we can't move people without replacing them here if we are to do that successfully."

Allan Charles, founder, vice chairman and chief creative officer of Trahan, Burden & Charles, a Baltimore advertising agency, said he is sad to see Everett go.

"He is truly talented, and he really had his pulse on what's happening in integrated communications," Charles said. "Doner was a key player here, and when they went to Detroit, that wasn't a good thing for Baltimore."

Roger Gray, president and chief executive of Gray, Kirk/VanSant, said he and Doner have exchanged staff members in the past and that he probably would have heard from its employees if they were unsure about Doner's future.

"If anybody's nervous there, they certainly haven't let us know," he said.

Gray hopes Doner does keep a strong presence here.

"If you're trying to recruit top talent and someone is interested in your agency, they will say, `What if it doesn't work out for me at Gray, Kirk/VanSant?' They've uprooted their family or their lifestyle and they want to know where they can go from there," he said. "Doner represented a strong alternative."

Pub Date: 7/24/99

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