A crisis in management, not financial difficulties, led to the closure of Gleason/Calise/Associates, sources said last week.
The 15-year-old Dallas shop, which had $50 million in 2000 billings, abruptly stopped answering its phones late last month—apparently without informing its clients.
The closing followed the departure of several key executives from the shop over the last year, beginning with chief operating officer Laura Shepherd and group account director Diane McKenna.
The next blow was the October departure of partner and chief executive officer Charlie Calise, wholeft to form his own venture, Calise and Partners.
"Charlie was basically the backbone of that company," a source at one of the agency's clients said. "[Founder and president] Matthew Gleason couldn't come in and pick up the pieces."
Gleason, reached at his home last Tuesday, declined comment.
Calise's exit apparently triggered a further round of resignations that left G/C/A unable to service a client roster that included rent-to-own chain ColorTyme, telecom switch designer Santera and Mary Kay cosmetics.
"I think once Charlie left we all felt we weren't sure where the agency was heading," said Don Sedei, the agency's former executive vice president and creative director.
G/C/A had 25 staffers as recently as this fall.
Calise, who is still part owner of the agency, was surprised to hear of its closure. He said he believed the company was solvent. Calise also claimed he had been in negotiations recently to buy out Gleason's stake in the business.
"To find out that he has shuttered the agency is unconscionable," Calise said.
A representative of ColorTyme said the company would not seek a new agency, but would move its advertising account in-house.
The plans of G/C/A's other clients could not be determined.