Preyss Succeeds Perry As Meldrum Chief As Parent Wolf Group Plans More Acquisitions

Bob Barocci is already making his presence felt one month into his tenure as chief operating officer of Toronto-based Wolf Group.
Last week he announced changes in the leadership of Meldrum & Fewsmith Communications, the Cleveland agency Wolf Group acquired last year. Additionally, Barocci said he may announce as early as this week the signing of a letter of intent to purchase an agency in New York. He declined to name that agency.
Furthermore, Barocci, who spent 20 years at Leo Burnett, said Wolf Group’s next order of business after securing a New York presence will be to enter Chicago via another acquisition.
In the Meldrum reorganization, chief executive officer and creative director Chris Perry announced his retirement from the agency he joined in 1979, although he will continue for an indefinite time as a consultant. Succeeding him, and filling the vacant post of president, is Jerry Preyss, who served as president of W.B. Doner’s Cleveland office from 1989 to 1996.
Since leaving Doner, Preyss has headed The Playground, a Cleveland agency specializing in marketing to children ages 3-13. Wolf Group has acquired The Playground, renaming it Wolf Kids, and is absorbing its six staffers into Meldrum, which also gets a new name: Wolf Meldrum & Fewsmith.
“Chris said he thought it was time for him to retire and for new management to be put in place, and we thought it was time, too,” said Barocci. Additional management hires will be announced soon, he said.
Although Meldrum has been stagnant, reporting billings of $126 million for three consecutive years, Barocci said he is confident about its future.
“Cleveland is a fertile market for company headquarters, but there are a lot of [accounts] that aren’t here anymore,” he said. “This town needs a powerful agency, one as powerful as Meldrum was 15 years ago. A strategically driven agency with outstanding creative can be a phenomenal success in this market, and that’s what Meldrum can be.”