HA-LO Charts Course

The executive ranks of HA-LO Industries were reconfigured last week as the firm attempts to change from a promotional products supplier to a brand marketing company.
Lou Weisbach, who founded HA-LO in 1972, with a $3,500 loan from his mother, stepped down as president and chief executive officer. Weisbach stays on as chairman of the HA-LO board, the company said.
Taking over as president and CEO is John Kelley, who joined HA-LO in 1998 when it purchased Upshot, the $35 million promotion marketing agency Kelley founded in 1994.
With Kelly’s ascension and a change in the company’s direction, several HA-LO executives have chosen to leave. Richard Magid resigned as HA-LO’s chief operating officer, although he will stay on as a consultant; and four members of the board also resigned “to allow for skill sets that best match the company’s future as a cutting-edge, brand marketing company,” HA-LO said in a release.
This year, the company spent $30 million to upgrade equipment and fine-tune operations as it undergoes a restructuring that led to last week’s executive turnover.
At the time of the Upshot purchase, HA-LO also acquired the brand-building firm Lipson Alport Glass & Associates in Cincinnati and Incentive Merchandising Corp. in Cleveland, among others.
HA-LO’s clients include Abbott Labbs, Ford Motor Co. and General Electric. In September, the company announced it had signed a marketing agreement with Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa, who it hopes to brand in future product efforts. K