As noted in the Boise Dev story, the company converted to an employee stock ownership plan (ESPO) structure, according to former majority owner and CEO Jamie Cooper. That means about 50 of the company’s current employees now make up the ownership of the company.
There are 42 privately-held ESOP companies in Idaho, and only a handful that are 100% employee owned. Perhaps the most well known locally and regionally is the nation’s third-largest — WinCo Foods — with 20,000 employee-owners. Drake Cooper now joins approximately 3% of marketing and advertising firms nationwide that are employee owned.
In becoming an ESOP, Drake Cooper preserves local ownership and its independent advertising agency status. The agency’s management team and Cooper’s role as CEO will remain the same through 2022. During that time, they will focus on building a stronger board of directors with advertising industry expertise, and creating a new role for a GM/President to help guide Drake Cooper and its employee-owners into the future.
Read more about the announcement at Boise Dev, or see the full release, swag box contents, and more at Drake Cooper’s reverb on Medium.
Piron, who joined Drake Cooper in 2016 as COO, picks up the addition to his title from Jamie Cooper, who now serves solely as CEO. Cooper will focus on leading the agency’s vision for creativity and innovation, as well as continuing to be a key advisor and strategist for the agency’s clients.
One of the first things that Bill thought about when he got back to work after the accident was the fact that he had never created a succession plan for his business. “Sure, I always thought about it,” he told me. “But life got in the way, and I never got around to it.” He realized that he had not even given a hint of direction to his staff on what to do if he got hit by the “proverbial bus.”
Around the same time, Jamie Cooper was growing restless. Jamie had been a marketing executive at a number of companies, most recently as the marketing VP at ProClarity, which had just sold to Microsoft. Having recently turned 40, Jamie was thinking about “hanging up my corporate badge and having my own business where I could leverage what I’ve learned in my career.”
Bill knew Jamie and was impressed with his thoughtful approach. According to Bill, “Jamie was a client of the firm while at ProClarity, and a tough one. Succession planning was now at the top of my priority list. I wasn’t ready to retire but I was ready to stop and smell the roses a bit more. Because of the extended nature of Jamie’s proposed earn-out, I’d be able to slowly ease out of the business and pass along the knowledge I’ve gained along the way.”
Its a good read, and worth the time to take a look at it.
Also, if you’re in a similar position, something for you to think about: What plans do you have in place in the event that ‘you get hit by a bus’?
Or, a more polite way of saying that the staff size at Drake Cooper has decreased a bit.
A couple of weeks ago, word reached us that there had been layoffs at Drake Cooper. Of the staff listed on their website, two full-time and one part-time had been let go. A fourth, a limited-term contractor, also had their project scaled back at the same time.
I had a chance to trade messages with CEO Jamie Cooper about these changes, and he confirmed that they had made cuts, and also provided a little insight into the reasoning behind it:
Slower start to 2009 after a very strong 2008. No big changes other than the economy finally catching us a bit. The other thing I would mention is these moves are also reflective of the change to more digital work in our shop. Our client work in the digital realm (all sorts of work – not just websites) is growing quickly and our staff adjustments need to support that growth.
As has been the case with others, this is an unfortunate reality of the business environment that we’re in. To those who were affected, give us a shout and we’ll get you listed in the Available Talent section of the website.
I fully expect that Drake Cooper, and other agencies that have gone through the layoff process recently, to bounce back in the near future. As I’m sure many would agree, I look forward to once again writing about new hires and seeing a rash of job openings in the industry.