Richards Sets Succession Plan

Ending speculation about the future of his agency, Stan Rich ards has outlined a succession plan for The Richards Group. And in a unique arrangement to ensure the independence of the Dallas agency, Richards said he will donate his 100 percent ownership equity to an as-yet-undisclosed charity.

Richards, 68, who holds the titles principal and creative director, has named three senior creatives to a newly formed leadership council. One of the three, Richards said, will eventually take over management of the agency, most likely after his death.

“There was speculation about, ‘What happens to this place when Stan croaks?’ ” he said. “And I wanted to send a clear signal.”

The charity would derive an annual income on the agency’s holdings, on the condition that the stock is never sold. Law yers are working out terms of the deal. “I wanted to put [the agency] in the hands of an organization that has no end date,” Richards said. “So it will always be independent, whether I am here or not. We will be about the same things 20 years from now that we are hopefully about today.”

Creative directors Glenn Dady, Gary Gibson and Mike Malone will now share what had been Richards’ sole authority over creative and operational issues. All three have spent most of their careers at Richards.

Dady, 49, has led creative development on accounts including Nei man Mar cus. Gibson, 47, is the primary creative director on The Home Depot account. Malone, 48, a writer, has worked on Con tinental Airlines, Royal Carib bean Cruise Lines and TGI Friday’s.

“There’s always been an understanding that my successor would be a creative,” said Richards. “These three guys … have been with me forever [and] are as re spon sible for the success of this place as I am.”

The Richards Group is the largest individually owned U.S. agency, with billings of more than $560 million and 533 staffers. Both bill ings and revenue increased by 21 percent last year. Richards insisted he has no plans to retire or become less involved in the agency’s daily activities.