Valentine Radford President Departs

Valentine Radford president Siobhan Lesley has resigned from the shop, which is struggling to come back from several years of declining billings capped by the loss of its cornerstone Bayer Corp. account last October.

According to agency CEO Chuck Curtis, Lesley decided to step down in May so she could spend more time with her children. A 17-year veteran of the Kansas City, Mo., agency, Lesley became president in October 2000.

“She wanted to do something different,” said Curtis, who has assumed Lesley’s title and duties. He said he has no plans to hire a new president.

Lesley could not be reached.

Kansas City’s oldest shop, Valentine Radford has been shrinking, with billings down 18 percent last year to an estimated $135 million. The agency claimed 249 employees in 1997 and 167 a year ago; it now has a staff of only about 50, Curtis said. Projected 2003 billings are $80 million, according to the shop.

The biggest blow came last year when Bayer’s environmental-science division shifted its business to Colle + McVoy in Minneapolis following a review. Curtis estimated Bayer accounted for about half of the agency’s $25 million in 2001 revenue.

Lesley is the third top manager to move on this year. Media director Norm Olson left in the spring to join crosstown shop Barkley Evergreen & Partners. Client services director Chris Hayes also exited after less than a year on the job. Olson has been replaced, and Curtis said he plans to hire another senior account executive, in part to help cover Lesley’s duties.

Curtis, who took over as CEO in 1992, said the shop has replaced about 10 percent of the lost revenue from Bayer. New business includes the Kansas City T-Bones baseball club and two additional regional Pizza Hut accounts.

“It’s more than we’ve seen in the pipeline for quite a while,” Curtis said.