The Richards Group has promoted Rob VanGorden to principal.
"Rob's diverse background and account service expertise is a rare and powerful asset," said Stan Richards, agency founder and creative director. "We are proud to promote such talent."
VanGorden, 38, an account director and now the 19th principal at the Dallas shop, has had his duties expanded to encompass new-business development. He will still spend much of his time serving as a "brand steward" for the $15-20 million Chick-fil-A business, an account VanGorden has managed since 1999.
"Chick-fil-A likes to have the folks who are working on their account pretty much dedicated to it," VanGorden said.
Richards hired VanGorden in 1998 for his packaged-goods expertise. He spent his first year helping National Semiconductor implement an in-house marketing function. The following year he began working on the Chick-fil-A and NatureSweet Tomatoes accounts.
VanGorden arrived at Richards from Trone Advertising in Greensboro, N.C. There, he served as vice president and managed the Uni-royal Tire, Cooks Champagne and National Brain Injury accounts. Prior to Trone, VanGorden spent six years at Leo Burnett in Chicago, working on accounts that included Altoids, Kraft and Velveeta.
"[The promotion] means a lot to me," VanGorden said. "I honestly believe I'm working at the best agency in the country. It's a terrific environment. If you have a great boss and great clients and you're working at a great agency, it doesn't get any better. If you can get two out of those three, you'd be happy, and I've got all three."
VanGorden also retains management responsibility for the agency's account executive training program.
"I have a military background," he said. "Training to me is essential to a career."
VanGorden spent six years in the U.S. Army and received a Bronze Star and an Air Medal for combat actions in the 1991 Gulf War.