New Leader Emerges at Color Wheel

NEW YORK — Color Wheel owner Haluk Ergulec, who founded the print production house 25 years ago, is handing over daily operations to Mark Wenger, formerly senior executive vice president of Color Wheel and now president.

Svp Michael LaRaia was named chief operating officer, and controller Pat Citera advanced to chief financial officer.

The top management changes are an attempt by Color Wheel to get back to business, even as indictments stemming from the ongoing federal probe into misconduct in the print production industry continue to plague the company.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice issued more indictments against Ergulec, Color Wheel salesperson Birj Deckmejian, John Ghanni, a salesperson for another, unnamed print production firm, and Mitchell Mosallem, evp and director of graphic services for Grey Global Group. Color Wheel itself was also indicted by the same Manhattan grand jury.

The indictments accuse Mosallem, Ghanni and Color Wheel of rigging bids for print services bought by Grey. The government also alleges that Mosallem, Ergulec, Deckmejian and Color Wheel conspired to defraud Grey clients, such as Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., in a phony billing scheme from 1991 until July 2000.

Wenger, 46, has been with Color Wheel for 15 years. His relationship with Ergulec goes back 27 years to when they worked together at another print production firm. Ergulec will still have a role in the company, Wenger said.

“Haluk is a tremendous resource of knowledge,” he said. “He’s been a visionary in this business. He spent his whole life creating this company. We would be remiss not seeking his advice regarding certain aspects of this business.”

Wenger declined to comment on the indictments. The company’s attorney, Ken Kaplan, said in a statement: “The charges against Haluk Ergulec and [Color Wheel] are without merit, and I fully expect them to be exonerated when the facts of this case are revealed.”

No court date has been announced.

“We just invested $2 million in new technology,” Wenger said. The company has 240 employees and is still servicing “thousands” of clients, he added.

“We knew, and Haluk knows, that the investigation has been a distraction, and it takes attention away from our business,” Wenger said. “This industry has changed more in the past five years than in the previous 25. But we’re concentrating on a variety of ways to modernize the organization.”