Alex Leikikh’s ascent to the top of Mullen is complete.
The executive who joined four years ago as director of account service and rose to president of the shop’s Boston headquarters in 2011 has become the third CEO in the agency’s 43-year history.
As head of the five-office agency, Leikikh succeeds Joe Grimaldi, CEO since 1999. Grimaldi will retain his other role as chairman through the end of 2015, when he’ll exit the shop he joined way back in 1982 as director of client services.
For Grimaldi, 62, the timing of the transition is perfect. His agency is coming off another year of significant growth, thanks largely to the addition of the Acura creative account. Total revenue is estimated at $120 million, up 10 percent from the end of 2012.
Leikikh, 40, meanwhile has realized an ambition that he had when he first joined Mullen in 2009. At the time, the ambitious former account leader at Fallon and Leo Burnett told Grimaldi that he wanted his job.
“I had a desire to run an agency, to run a company,” explained Leikikh. “I knew that Joe was putting together the next generation of leaders. And I knew that they were moving from the woods (of Wenham, Mass.) and into the city (of Boston). That was all appealing to me.
“I thought, ‘You know what? I’ve only had a couple of jobs in this business. I want to settle down in an area and be part of a community, part of an agency that I love,’” Leikikh added. “I thought, ‘Why not go for it?’”
Other top executives at the shop include chief creative officer Mark Wenneker, chief strategy officer Kristen Cavallo and chief media officer John Moore.
Under Grimaldi, Mullen has not only has become a city dweller but a national player via accounts such as JetBlue, Google, Fage, American Greetings and Acura. Its footprint now extends to Pittsburgh, Winston-Salem, N.C., San Francisco and El Segundo, Calif., where the Interpublic Group shop opened in June to service its car business. Total headcount hovers around 750, with 450 of that in Boston.
Beyond such growth, Grimaldi feels proud of the core set of values he helped establish at Mullen and simply the brand the agency has become. Ask what advice he had for his successor, Grimaldi said: “Always make Mullen a company people can believe in and its mission a cause worthy of the great effort and sacrifice our people have to make.”