Lyons in Dual Role At Rapp Collins

In new president James Lyons, Rapp Collins New York is getting a self-described “type A personality.” While that’s not an unusual quality in a top executive, the Brooklyn native’s drive is illustrated by a twist: Lyons is taking the post at the direct-marketing agency without giving up his current job.

Lyons, 37, has served as president of Optima Direct in Vienna, Va., the 35-person call-center division of Omnicom Group’s Rapp Collins Worldwide, since November. He plans to spend about 80 percent of his time working at his new job at Rapp Collins New York and 20 percent in Virginia.

In New York, Lyons replaces Robert Solomon, who is returning to his consultancy, Solomon Strategic. Rapp Collins New York clients include Lowe’s Home Improvement and Mercedes-Benz. Lyons, who starts this week, reports to Malcolm Speed, chairman and CEO of Rapp Collins Worldwide.

The New York office, which has 130 staffers and is the agency’s headquarters, has not won new business this year. Lyons said he will “first focus on our existing clients and [do] better with what we have. Some people think that new business is the silver bullet. … I think it’s a nice bullet, but it’s not the only bullet.”

“Jim’s entire career has prepared him to be a leader of not just one or more companies, but in the direct marketing industry,” said Tim Searcy, executive director of the American Teleservices Association in Washington, who hired Lyons in 1999 as vp when Searcy was president of Optima.

Rapp Collins, the second-largest direct-marketing agency network in the U.S. behind Interpublic Group’s Draft, claimed global billings of $2.6 billion in 2002.