FGI Vets Open Garage

ATLANTA-Two top creative staffers at FGI in Chapel Hill, N.C., were dismissed last Tuesday when management discovered they were planning to form their own creative shop in the same city.
Denzil Strickland and Jimmy Bonner, chief creative officer and creative director, respectively, at FGI, confirmed that they had left the shop and opened Garage, a “creative resource for clients and . . . large agencies.”
Strickland compared Garage to “our peers . . . Work, Core and Match, [which are] succeeding without being traditional ad agencies.”
Strickland would neither confirm nor deny reports from agency sources that he and Bonner were let go when FGI learned of their plans. He admitted, however, “They became aware of our intentions.”
FGI president Tom Butta said the split between agency and creatives was “a company-initiated event,” while a public relations representative said “a swift personnel action was taken.”
The personnel move comes less than a month after John Barnes, FGI’s president of marketing communications, resigned to accept a position with Carat ICG in Los Angeles. Barnes held the FGI post for only three months.
Strickland and Bonner came to FGI two years ago from Cole Henderson Drake in Atlanta, bringing with them art director Rick Kourchenko, who resigned from FGI last Friday. Kourchenko said he had no plans to join Garage and was looking to leave the Chapel Hill region.
“Even when we were leaving CHD, it had popped up, should we maybe start our own place [in Atlanta], but we didn’t think we could do it financially,” Bonner said. “Now, the timing was right.”
Strickland said Garage starts with two clients: Twin Eagles Cattle Co. and Amnesty International. He said Garage is pitching other businesses in the Carolinas and has lined up project work with large agencies in New York and Chicago.