Kerker’s Search Ends

Tina Puente, Kerker’s recently named vice president and director of new business, said chasing potential clients is “the only thing I want to do.”

“I love being the person that gets to lead an agency through these exciting times,” Puente said.

Hiring Puente, previously director of new business at Work in Richmond, Va., was the result of a five-month search by the Minneapolis agency. She succeeds Diane Norman, who left the industry in May.

The shop’s goal is to double its billings in five years, said Kerker president Chuck Kelly. “We’re playing to win, and if we’re playing to win, we need to have the right people on staff,” Kelly said.

Puente, 32, said she was not looking for a new job when the agency came calling. Part of the draw was the opportunity to help the $40 million shop shift from a business-to-business focus to a consumer advertising orientation, she said.

“If you look at the background of the people who are here, there’s some opportunity to move into some new industries and categories,” Puente said.

She pointed to the packaged-goods backgrounds of client ser-vices director Christine Fruechte, formerly at Campbell Mithun, and creative director Chris Preston, a veteran of Martin/Williams. The shop may also look for another restaurant client, having lost Buca di Beppo’s $4 million account in October.

Puente began her career in Minneapolis, holding account positions at Fallon and McCracken Brooks. She moved to Richmond in 1996 to join The Martin Agency, then went to Work when that agency openedin 1997.