CHICAGO—Al Golin is stepping down as chairman of Golin/Harris International, the firm he founded in 1957. He will be replaced as chairman by Rich Jernstedt, but will continue to play an active role in the agency. Fred Cook—previously managing director of the firm’s western operations—will become the third CEO in the firm’s 47-year history.
Cook joined Golin/Harris in 1986 and managed the agency’s Los Angeles office—one of the largest in the market—for eight years. In 1998, he became regional managing director of G/H’s western operations and head of its worldwide technology practice. After 25 years in Los Angeles, Cook, a native of Indiana, moved to the agency’s Chicago headquarters in mid-2002 to take on the role of chief client officer, a new position. He was promoted to president in September 2002.
In addition, Cook has managed the agency’s work for companies like Visa USA, Nintendo of America, and Toyota.
In his new role he will report to Harris Diamond who leads the constituency management group at Interpublic, parent company of Golin/Harris and Weber Shandwick Worldwide.
Cook said he had several priorities, including a focus on developing the firm’s core capabilities and “expanding in a low risk way. I believe we will be in more places than we were in the past, but I don’t think that necessarily means more acquisitions.” He pointed to the recent restructuring at Interpublic that gave Golin/Harris responsibility for The Weber Group in the U.K.
“Maximizing performance around the world is critical,” he says. “We want our offices overseas to be as strong as our domestic offices.”
Jernstedt celebrated his 25th anniversary with Golin/Harris in January. He has served as chief executive since 1991 and has worked with clients including McDonald’s Corporation, Levi Strauss & Co. and Sony Corporation. In his new role he will focus more on corporate strategy, new business development and key client relationships, while Cook handles day-to-day operations.
Said Jernstedt in a statement, “Fred will certainly make an impact as the new CEO just as he has in every position during his outstanding career at Golin/Harris. The three of us are excited about working together to continue the development of Golin/Harris.”
Added Golin, “Rich and Fred have both had a tremendous impact on Golin/Harris’s success over the years. Their respect for the brand, and their belief in its potential, will serve them and the company well as they take on these new roles. They’re backed by a senior management team that is among the best in the business.”