The Buck Stops With Brinegar

Brad Brinegar arrives at McKinney & Silver at a time when the shop—still coping with the death of its CEO—is struggling to reverse a drastic revenue decline in 2001.

A Leo Burnett veteran, Brinegar joins the Raleigh, N.C.-based agency as president and CEO. The 46-year-old replaces Don Maurer, who was killed in a car accident in October.

“I’m going to work hard to get the senior team to agree where we want to point the agency,” said Brinegar. “A good part of my time will be spent outside trying to grow the place.”

In 2001, the shop saw billings drop to $275 million from $350 million a year earlier, while revenue slid nearly 24 percent to $20 million as clients like XO Communications (along with its $80 million ad budget) spiraled toward bankruptcy.

McKinney, part of Havas’ Arnold network, has not added a new account since last August’s $40 million Nasdaq win under the hard-charging Maurer. In October, three members of the shop’s executive com mittee—media director John Klein, account planner Andrew Delbridge and ecd David Baldwin—named a fourth member, director of cli-ent services Cameron McNaugh ton, to oversee operations as they searched for a new CEO.

Arnold chief Ed Es kandarian hired Pile and Co.’s executive-search unit to identify potential candidates. Among them: former Long Haymes Carr CEO Steve Zades and at least two members of McKinney’s executive com mittee, sources said. The list, said Eskandarian, who interviewed eight to nine candidates, came down to “Brad and one internal candidate.” Sources said McNaughton was the in-house finalist.

In Raleigh, many of the shop’s 130 staffers were relieved a selection had been made. “It’s great that the buck can finally stop,” said Baldwin. “At the end of the day, you need one person to make decisions.”

Brinegar, an affable Chicagoan, most recently was CEO of Leo Burnett U.S. He was ousted in October in a power struggle with Burnett Worldwide president Bob Brennan after 20 years at the shop. Brinegar also led Ammirati Puris Lintas’ short-lived Chicago office.

Sources said his superb account-service skills are occasionally undercut by a tendency to micromanage. “He’s going to have to learn to delegate,” said a former colleague.

Brinegar, who holds degrees from Dartmouth and Columbia Univer sity, impressed Eskandarian during a Dec. 10 conversation. Sources familiar with that discussion suggested Brinegar, who fancies himself an entrepreneur, offered to buy McKinney outright.