Fleishman raids Bayer for head of new Midwest healthcare practice

CLEVELAND: Fleishman-Hillard has hired a new SVP to go after

healthcare business to revive its Cleveland office, which saw revenues

fall about 20% in 2001.



Douglas Bell will join Fleishman in January to work on healthcare and

biotech. He'll split his time between the Cleveland office, known as

Watt/Fleishman-Hillard, and Fleishman's Kansas City, MO office.

Officially, the hire was made through Kansas City, though Bell wanted to

be based in Cleveland.



Before accepting the job, Bell was head of the global public policy and

communications department for the biological products business group at

Bayer Pharmaceuticals.



His presence means "we're definitely interested in expanding our

healthcare practice," said Jay Lawrence, GM in Cleveland.



Revenues for Fleishman's Cleveland office fell to $3.4 million in

2001 from $4.2 million in 2000, primarily due to losses from tech

clients, Lawrence said. "No question, we were overly optimistic about

this year," Lawrence said as 2001 ended.



Fleishman bought a local Cleveland firm in 1999. Its recent troubles

there led to a critical mid-October article in Crain's Cleveland

Business, with unnamed sources saying Fleishman wasn't succeeding there.

But Lawrence said of the article,"It was wrong; it exaggerated the

situation."



The Cleveland office had grown from $2.1 million in revenues in

1999 to the $3.4 million level in 2000, Lawrence contended.

Fleishman has no plans to leave Cleveland as rival Golin/Harris did in

2001.



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