Denari Named Y&L President

Young & Laramore couldn’t immediately afford Tom Denari as a freshly minted MBA graduate from Indiana University in 1989.

But David Young, chairman of the Indianapolis independent, saw promise in the young man and offered him a part-time job until a full-time salary became available. For Denari, who’s now 41 and took over as president of the shop on Jan. 1, patience paid off.

“The half-salary lasted about two months,” Denari said. “They were a young, hot shop. I was from the area. I bought into the vision [Young] had.”

Denari takes the president’s role from Paul Knapp, 47, who moves up to CEO, a position the agency previously did without. Denari will report to Knapp and oversee the shop’s 65 staffers, with responsibility for all client work. Knapp will focus on new business and overall strategic direction for the agency, which claims annual billings of about $70 million.

Denari, who a year ago became a partner in the shop and who most recently was evp, principal and director of client services, started as an account manager and climbed up the ranks. His move into a leadership role “has sort of been according to plans that David [Young] and [vice chairman] Jeff [Laramore] informally laid out several years ago,” Knapp said. “Clients get comfortable with [Tom Denari] very quickly. They just feel like they’re in very good hands.”

Denari got his bachelor’s degree from Wabash College in Indiana, where an alumnus who had gone on to Leo Burnett planted the seed that advertising might be interesting. Not wanting to go into the ad world with only a liberal arts degree, Denari went on to IU to get his MBA. The son of a high school basketball coach, Denari enjoys coaching his 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son in basketball and baseball when he’s not working.