"The nature of this business is you're either going up or going down," said the 46-year-old Mr. Kubin, who will oversee 11 Western offices. "You don't have the luxury of hovering. So new business is a major focus of what I'm going to be doing."
Bob Lilley, himself recently promoted from exec VP to managing director of Western's New York office, agreed: "Handling the current client list has been a big focus here, and one of the important skills Michael will be bringing is his ability to attract new business."
MOVE HAD BEEN PLANNED
Western President Michael Kassan said Mr. Kubin's appointment has long been in the works.
"Ever since we acquired Media Inc., we've been intending to make this move," he said, jokingly adding, "Michael's got the right initials, so this move was destined."
Media Inc., an independent buying service Mr. Kubin co-founded in 1992, was acquired by Western in 1996. Before he helped start Media Inc., Mr. Kubin was president of Club Med U.S. He later brought the vacation marketer in as Media Inc.'s first client. That experience will give the executive sway outside of the region designated by his title.
"Michael's experience with Club Med, coupled with the fact he speaks five languages, will assist us in growing internationally," Mr. Kassan said. "We want him to help strengthen our East Coast operations as well as work closely with me on the international side."
INTERNATIONAL GROWTH IS KEY
International expansion is a high priority at Western, a division of Interpublic Group of Cos. that claims $3 billion in billings from a client list that includes Walt Disney Co., BellSouth, American Honda Motor Co.'s Acura division and Long John Silver's.
Western has partnered with sister Interpublic shops Lowe SFM and Initiative Media in Europe. Thus far, Western has offices in London and the Netherlands, with one in Paris soon to come.
On the operational side, Mr. Kubin will have responsibilities for Western offices in Atlanta; Boston; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Detroit; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Toronto; and Washington-in total, 11 of Western's 39 offices.
Mr. Kubin's post and responsibilities are new for Western, and signal a significant management shift.
"Western has grown so fast in the last 10 years it now requires decentralized management," Mr. Kubin said. Left unsaid is how much of a one-man band Dennis Holt, Western's founder and chairman, had been in the past.
Mr. Holt "had this incredible ability of seeming to be in half a dozen places at once, giving everything his full attention," said one agency executive fan of his.
Mr. Holt in recent years has slowly turned over control to Mr. Kassan, who is charged with putting in place the executive team that will guide Western into the next century.
"Looking at realities of the media marketplace, we need to put in place services that clients need in each of our offices," Mr. Kubin said. "What exactly does that mean? Today, I don't know. We will talk to our clients, and then in a few