L/C’s Ownership to Stay Intact

John Constable is re-tiring as partner and executive creative director at Laughlin/Constable but will retain his ownership stake in the agency, which contrary to rumors is not for sale, said Constable’s partner.

“We’re not looking for a buyer,” said Steve Laughlin, 54, who also continues as the Milwaukee shop’s sole executive creative director, a title he previously shared with Constable. “We feel more bullish about an independent agency our size than at any time in our history.”

Constable, 59, said he will remain involved creatively for a few key clients with whom he has had long-term relationships, including Weyco Shoes and OshKosh B’Gosh. He will also maintain ties to L/C’s Griffin Design division. Constable and Laughlin own 100 percent of the shop, which has a Chicago office and claims billings of $160 million.

“In a closely held business like ours, you can’t just turn it off like a spigot,” Constable said. “We’re in a relationship business.”

Constable said he does not plan to cash out, although he foresees Laughlin eventually assuming sole ownership “as profitability allows.”

Laughlin noted that he and Constable started together as a copywriter and art director team at Cramer-Krasselt more than 25 years ago before opening their own agency with the late Dennis Frankenberry in 1978.

“When you lose your partner, a little of your alter ego goes out the door at the same time,” Laughlin said.

L/C’s creative department will continue to be overseen by Laughlin, with creative directors Mark Drewek and Bill Kresse reporting to him. Constable’s other management duties will shift to other executives, including Chi-cago president Dean Proctor, Laughlin said.

Constable is an Englishman who early in his career designed album and book covers in London. A sculptor by training, he continues to paint and sculpt recreationally, and also races vintage cars on the Road America circuit.

He was part of the team that worked on advertising for George Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign, and was the first creative from Wisconsin to serve as a judge for the Communication Arts Annual.

“It’s been fun for 40 years,” he said about his career.