Peter Morrissey last week resigned as president of Clarke & Co., ending a 20-year run with agency founder, chairman and chief executive officer Terry Clarke.
Morrissey, who plans to strike out on his own, was a major shareholder in the public relations shop. His stake has been cashed out, both executives said during a joint interview last week. Morrissey also agreed to noncompete contingencies, he said.
Clarke will assume Morrissey's title. Three executive vice presidents-- Ellie Holman, Brian Delaney and Lynn Kettleson--are expected to stay on.
As they have so often for the clients they counsel on crisis communications and other matters, Morrissey and Clarke worked hard to put as positive a spin as possible on the demise of their business partnership. "It's a great firm. I wish it well. . . . There's a lot of my blood, sweat and tears in the place," Morrissey said.
Morrissey and Clarke have been at odds over the future of the agency, of which Clarke owns a majority interest. Employees told of Morrissey's resignation on Friday were "relieved," Clarke said, because "Peter has been frustrated for some time."
Morrissey said he was "very happy" to have finalized the terms of his severance and said he looks forward to building a new communications and public relations agency with partners he declined to identify because of ongoing negotiations. "I spent the last 20 years doing what was right for Clarke & Co. . . . I'm thinking about the Peter Morrissey company now," he said.
Clarke said Morrissey was leaving after one of the shop's most profitable years; revenues climbed to about $5 million with a staff of 38. In the last two decades, Clarke has been eclipsed in size by nimble newcomers and shops that specialized in technology, such as the Brodeur Group and the Weber Group. One of the clients that Morrissey leaves behind is IBM, which he and others at the agency worked years to win.