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marsak's surprise

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If the Los Angeles ad community had an honorary grandfather, it would probably be Mike Marsak.

A folksy, affable kind of guy with snow-white hair and a kind word for everyone, the 60-year-old former ad exec now runs reviews and does consulting work. He started his company, Effective Marketing Strategies, 13 years ago after an ad career that included stints at J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather and McCann-Erickson. Now, having moved his operation from his home in Marina del Rey, Calif., to the Phoenix suburb of Surprise, Ariz., he's concerned that folks think he has hung up his Rolodex to play golf. Nothing, he says, could be further from the truth.

"No, I'm not retiring. And no, I don't play golf," says Marsak, whose current client list includes Shell Oil. He says he made the move with Donna, his wife of 31 years, in order to help care for her parents.

"I realized I can run this business anywhere, so I thought it would be nice to move here to a nice planned community where Donna can be closer to her parents," he said. "The business remains successful, and I plan to continue to do what I've been doing for 13 years.

"I knew people would think I retired if I moved here, but on the plus side I operate one of the largest businesses in Surprise, Arizona."