Acquisition by Liggett-Stashower Ends Griswold’s 85-Year Run

One of the Midwest’s oldest agency names is disappearing.
The client list of Griswold-Eshleman Co., which opened its doors in Cleveland in 1912, has been acquired by Liggett-Stashower in Cleveland, which will also be absorbing some staff members. Terms of the acquisition, which closes out Griswold’s long advertising history, were not disclosed.
Griswold vice chairman and chief creative officer Joe McNeil joins Liggett as a senior vice president and creative director, while executive vice president Jeff Weber becomes a senior vice president and management supervisor. They will continue to work with the clients absorbed under the deal, said David Stashower, chairman and chief executive officer. How many of Griswold’s approximately two dozen other employees will be taken on by Liggett has not been determined.
Griswold’s client roster has shortened in recent years, and its billings declined to an estimated $13 million in 1996 from more than triple that in 1993. Stashower said Liggett–which ended 1996 with billings of $77 million–adds about a dozen clients through the acquisition, including Anchor Hocking’s consumer glass and plastics divisions, Automated Packaging Systems, Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., and Sherwin-Williams Co.’s automotive finishes division. None of Griswold’s clients need to be set loose due to category conflicts with Liggett’s roster, Stashower said.
“This is a good opportunity for us to broaden our bases and gain economies of scale,” said Stashower. “This gives an immediate jolt to our growth strategy. [As is evident in the agency business], this is one way, a favorite way, to gain business.”
Griswold was acquired by Ross Roy Communications, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., in 1986. The agency’s management, led by former chairman Patrick Morin, bought back control of the shop in 1994 and had struggled since then to rebuild. Morin resigned in 1995, and the agency had been run since then by managing partners McNeil and Weber.
Last year, it sold its stake in the Falls-Griswold Public Relations subsidiary to Robert Falls, who renamed the agency Robert Falls & Co.
Griswold’s Teledira Yellow Pages Service unit had also diminished in recent years through client defections.