Initiative in Seattle

Initiative Media North America is beefing up its Pacific Northwest presence, opening a Seattle hub and merging it with its existing Portland, Ore., office. Heading up the combined operation as general manager is Cole Hartman, currently manager of business development in Los Angeles.

The Interpublic media shop services about $40 million in clients in the region, including the Labor Ready employment agency, electronics retailer Video Only and The Panera Bread Co. But it is also the largest buyer of local media in the Northwest thanks to its regional and national accounts.

Nine Portland staffers will relocate to the Seattle office, which is expected to add administrative staff from the local market as well.

“We are always looking to grow the region … to define areas that will have the greatest potential,” said Randy Bixler, Initiative svp/director of the Western region. Although Seattle has been hard-hit recently by the loss of key corporate citizen Boeing, the demise of the high-tech economy and other factors, Bixler said there is “an underlying vibrance in the business market there. Our [Northwest-based] clients are all doing well.”

Hartman, 29, is considered one of the agency’s most promising young executives. He joined the shop’s predecessor, Western International Media, five years ago as a media coordinator. He ascended to the business development manager post last year.

“Cole clearly understands strategic planning and thinking, and was one of our key players in winning Gateway computers and other new business in the West. It’s time for him to have his own room,” said Bixler.

The new post “clearly is an exciting opportunity, a challenge for me to step out and test myself,” said Hartman. “All our clients have welcomed this change. The initial response has been fantastic.”