Indebted Reeves ad agency closing

`We mourn the loss,' industry group says of Baltimore business

January 09, 2001|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

The Reeves Agency Inc., a Baltimore-based advertising and public relations business that was started in 1978, has declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy, reporting more than $700,000 owed to more than 120 creditors and assets of less than $230,000.

A trustee will sort through the company's finances. Neither Rebecca Reeves, president of the Reeves Agency, nor her attorney, Irving E. Walker, returned telephone calls yesterday.

In a recent interview, Walker said, "For this corporation it would be a permanent closure. The Reeves Agency will be no more. The purpose of the bankruptcy will be to preserve the right to recover funds."

The court papers seeking liquidation were dropped off at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore after court working hours on Friday and became part of the public record yesterday.

"It hurts all of us when someone closes," said Steve Cline, managing director of the Advertising Association of Baltimore. "They've been around for a long time. We mourn the loss."

Yesterday, telephone calls to the agency were answered by a recorded message that listed business hours as 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Among the larger debts Reeves listed in the bankruptcy filing were more than $33,700 owed to WMMJ-FM, more than $41,800 owed to WQSR and nearly $48,500 owed to WWIN-FM. F. T. Mortgage Cos. is owed $26,305 in arrearage for the lease at 111 Market St., where the Reeves Agency had its offices.

Among other creditors listed in the court papers were the Baltimore Police Department, the U.S. attorney's office, The Baltimore Sun Co., the Baltimore Ravens, the Baltimore Business Journal, Comcast Cable Advertising and the Better Business Bureau, which is owed $5,400 for dues.

The court papers also describe a lawsuit filed in September against the Reeves Agency by Pavsner Press Inc. of Baltimore as pending trial. That lawsuit, filed in Baltimore County District Court, was the printing company's attempt to recoup $6,419 in printing services, the balance of a $21,386 bill.

The bankruptcy filing also lists a claim of $129,000 on behalf of the Reeves Agency against Leo V. Miller, a former officer of the company, for "unauthorized improper transfers of corporate funds." Miller could not be reached for comment.

That is believed to be one of the most significant recent financial blows to the agency, but there has been industry talk for months of financial woes.

Terry Romanoli, executive director of Preakness Celebration Inc., said she saw problems at the agency unfold quickly. On Dec. 18, she met with agency employees for an annual planning meeting for the pro bono creative and design work done by Reeves since 1995 for Preakness Celebration.

Everything was on track, but a day or two later, Romanoli said, she received a call from the agency saying the work committed to days earlier could not proceed.

"The creative work we got from them was outstanding," Romanoli said.

"They used it as an opportunity to showcase some festive work and to have some fun."

The Reeves Agency's clients included Aetna U.S. Healthcare, the Maryland Board of Pharmacy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration, Calico Corners and Cuisinart.

In 1973, Rebecca Reeves co-founded RSB Productions, an agency devoted solely to the creation and production of radio advertising. That company evolved into the Reeves Agency, according to a company profile. Reeves became known for promoting national concert tours, then for college recruitment advertising and, eventually, retail.

"A loss like the Reeves Agency is a loss for all of us, because part of our mission collectively should be building the strength and vitality of the Baltimore ad community," said Andy Dumaine, partner and creative director at the Campbell Group, a Baltimore advertising and public relations agency.

"Certainly, this latest news is a move in the wrong direction."

Bob Leffler, president and owner of another Baltimore agency, the Leffler Agency, praised the work Reeves did for Metro Foods, NeighborCare Pharmacies and the radio station Mix 106, saying the agency helped build a number of businesses from the ground up.

"She was a serious ad woman," he said of Reeves. "She was a pro. She'll come out on the other side of this. She'll come back."

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