Initiative Shuffles Deck in L.A.

After eight months on the job, Initiative Media CEO Alec Gerster has followed through on plans to shuffle key talent in an effort to turn around the $20 billion media network.

The moves affect two regional Initiative Media offices, as well as Initiative Partners, the Los Angeles-based unit that works with small and midsized agencies.

Randy Bixler was promoted to president of Initiative Partners, Rich Simms becomes evp and general manager of Initiative Media in L.A., and Rob Claxton takes on the role of general manager, Southeast region. All three report to Carolyn Bivens, Initiative president and COO.

Bixler, 51, had been director of Western regional client services for Initiative here. An ex-football player with a commanding presence, he has worked as gm of Initiative Media San Diego and spent 20 years in TV sales management at KFMB-TV, a CBS affiliate in San Diego.

“He’s very good at getting the very best out of people,” said Bivens. “He’s very focused on a client’s business, and not just on their media needs.”

Bixler’s predecessor, Bruce Silverman, 56, will become president of WongDoody’s L.A. office in January. The new position marks a return to his creative roots. Prior to joining Initiative, Silverman was president and partner at now-defunct Asher/Gould in L.A. He has also worked at BBDO West and Ogilvy & Mather.

Simms, 46, was previously evp and gm of Initiative Atlanta, overseeing $700 million in annual billings from clients such as BellSouth and Home Depot. An outdoors enthusiast who kayaks and mountain bikes, Simms is “a wonderful motivator and a great consensus-builder,” said Bivens.

Claxton, 48, had been svp, group account director in Atlanta, heading retail strategy for Home Depot.

“There’s no question we’ve been evaluating where we want to go and how to get there,” said Bivens. “We want people leading who are students of the trends, who look forward, do not get caught up in history or what was, who see the big picture but manage flawlessly the execution of details.”