McKee Strikes Out on His Own After Strascina Buyout Goes Bust

By Glen Fest

DALLAS–Steve McKee has resigned his post as president and creative director at Strascina & Partners, citing failed buyout discussions with chairman and owner Peter Strascina at the Albuquerque, N.M., agency.

McKee said he submitted his resignation two weeks ago after declining an undisclosed financing offer from Strascina. McKee plans to open his own Albuquerque agency soon, partnering with former Strascina senior vice president and media director Pat Wallwork.

Meanwhile, Strascina & Partners quickly filled McKee’s shoes from within. The agency named Molly Davis interim creative director and elevated Frank Duran to vice president of account management.

McKee last week said negotiations ended when he and Wallwork balked at the expense involved.

‘We had agreed on a price,’ said McKee, ‘but I couldn’t make it happen financially (with a bank). Peter offered to finance it, but (it) was undoable. The point was we couldn’t grow and thrive with a big note over our head.’

Strascina, who has run the shop for 19 years, said his proposal was fair, ‘considering that my offer to carry the deal was the same he went to the bank with.’

Despite the buyout discussions, Strascina has not put the $10 million billings shop on the market. ‘That was a very unique situation and it doesn’t necessarily follow that we’ll sell the agency,’ said Strascina.

Strascina added that Davis will be given consideration for the permanent creative directorship.

The recent buyout discussions were the latest over a four-year period that previously included McKee’s brother, Matt, as a potential partner. Matt McKee left his creative director’s post last fall to join Harris Drury Cohen in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

‘I have great affection for Peter,’ said McKee. ‘This is an amicable parting, but that’s not to say it’s not difficult.’

‘Sometimes one’s colleagues become one’s competitors,’ said Strascina, ‘and that’s just a fact of life in this business.’

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