McKay Leaves His Boston Agency

In a surprise development, John McKay has left McKay Communications, the 35-person agency he formed three years ago with former partner Marvin Fried.
“I am in the process of resigning,” McKay said from his home last Friday. “It’s a personal decision.” McKay declined to discuss the reasons for his unexpected departure.
Joe Burnieika, who had guided the Boston shop’s public relations operation, assumes McKay’s duties as chief executive. Burnieika also declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding McKay’s exit.
Disagreements between the two over business practices, cash flow problems, a recent lawsuit brought against the agency by Fried [Adweek, March 27] and other factors combined to heighten tensions at the shop, sources said.
McKay, along with Burnieika and investment capitalist James Rappaport, are the principal owners of McKay Communications, though none holds a controlling interest. McKay is being cashed out of the agency, Burnieika said.
Rappaport said he intends to remain involved with he shop.
The agency–which claimed $35 million in billings last year and works for clients such as RoweCom and Merriam Webster–will continue with McKay’s name on the door for the near term, Burnieika said.
“Obviously, it’s a weird situation, when the guy with his name on the door leaves,” Burnieika noted. “But no one man [in Boston] is bigger than his agency. Except Jack Connors [of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos].”
Both Burnieika and McKay said the latter has signed non-compete and non-solicitation agreements.
“I wouldn’t even go down that road. I’m not out to take clients,” McKay said, adding that he has yet to formulate plans for his professional future. K