Via Christens Office in Mass.

Via has hired a trio of local executives to introduce the agency, one of New England’s largest independently owned shops, to the greater Boston market.

Via launches today in Somerville, Mass., with 10 employees. Helming operations are Ken Dec, former CEO of CGN Marketing & Cre ative Services; Les lie Kaplan, a consultant who once headed direct mar keting at Hill, Holliday, Connors Cosmopulos; and David Jackson, ex-president of boutique shop Six.

The three now share the title of principal at Via.

“Boston has always been a logical market for us to think about penetrating,” said John Coleman, founding partner at the Portland, Maine-based agency.

The Boston-area outpost plans to leverage the new team’s broad consumer experience, targeting financial-service companies and the healthcare industry, said Coleman. “We were looking for the right leadership team who understands the local market,” he said.

Jackson’s agency, Six, formed late last year, has been folded into Via, which takes over the boutique’s office space. Coming over from Six are accounts for Danskin, Brine, the Killington ski resort and the Holmes Group, as well as projects for New Balance and Stonyfield Yogurt. The office’s other key ac count is Boston in -vest ment bank Adam, Hark ness & Hill, which Via previously handled from Maine.

The agency claimed overall 2001 billings of $110 million, placing it slightly ahead of Water town, Mass.-based Allen & Gerritsen among re gional independents. A&G, however, posted higher revenues.

Via also has operations in New York and Columbus, Ohio. Revenues grew about 10 percent in 2001 to $11 million. The shop’s calling-card account is Banknorth, which spends about $15 million annually on advertising throughout New England and upstate New York.

The move into Boston “makes a lot of sense for the long run,” said industry consultant Bill Montbleau, president of Montbleau Associates in Burlington, Mass. “But they’ll be competing with everyone else [for new business], and it’s tough in the Boston market now.”

At least two notable incursions into the notoriously insular Boston market have failed recently. Chicago’s Leo Burnett Technology Group and Interpublic Group’s Deutsch, New York, both shuttered local outposts in 2001.

But Yoram Samets, managing director at Kelliher Samets Volk, thinks the move will pay off.

“I think it’s absolutely the correct time to open an office in Boston,” Samets said. “It’s an expensive business-development opportunity, but you’ve got to take it. It [infuses] new blood into the marketplace.”

In March, Burlington, Vt.-based KSV absorbed Boston ad shop Orsatti & Partners in order to acquire a local presence.

Dec, Kaplan and Jackson first met when they worked together in the 1990s at Hill, Holliday. Dec resigned from Boston’s CGN last week (see related story below). Kaplan had been consulting since leaving Hill, Holliday last year. Before co-founding Six, Jackson was director of client services at the Donovan Group, which closed last year.