Avenir Global acquires Padilla; Matt Kucharski to take firm's helm

CEO Lynn Casey will move into the role of agency chair.

(Padilla's Lynn Casey and Matt Kucharski)
(Padilla's Lynn Casey and Matt Kucharski)

MINNEAPOLIS: Montreal-based holding and management company Avenir Global has acquired Padilla.

Padilla chair and CEO Lynn Casey is transitioning to the role of chair, while Matt Kucharski moves up to lead the agency as president. Both will report to Avenir president and CEO Jean-Pierre Vasseur.

Casey will "wear two hats" in her new role, explained Vasseur.

"[Casey] will keep an eye on Padilla, support [Kucharski] in any way she can, and help us with special projects," he said. "One of them is the [collaboration] of our U.S. operations. She will spend time with those firms and share our expertise and knowledge and make sure we make the most of it for our clients."

Avenir’s other U.S. agencies include Axon Communications and Shift Communications.

Casey, who has led Padilla since 2001, said she is "thrilled" for Kucharski as her successor. Kucharski has worked at Padilla since 1989. Last February, he was promoted to president.

"Padilla is in his DNA," said Casey. "It was important for me that he as my successor would have the kind of rewarding experience I have been able to have for the past 17 years. We are excited for the future."

Padilla has no other leadership changes or layoffs planned. Padilla will retain its brand, though Casey said that could eventually change because people have problems pronouncing its name. Four years ago, Padilla Speer Beardsley changed its name to PadillaCRT. That rebrand followed the firm’s acquisition of Richmond-based CRT/tanaka, which was originally founded as Carter Ryley Thomas in 1996, but changed its name after acquiring New York-based Patrice Tanaka & Co., Inc. in 2005.

Last year, the firm rebranded as Padilla.

Avenir’s long-term growth strategy is focused on diversifying its geographic reach, deepening its talent pool, and expanding its service offering, the company said in a statement. Avenir is looking to expand regionally in the U.S., said Vasseur.

Avenir decided to acquire Padilla because of its talent, Minneapolis headquarters, and the firm’s industry experience. With the deal, Avenir will have 330 staffers in Boston; Richmond, Virginia; Washington, DC; New York; Chicago; Minneapolis; Austin, Texas; and San Francisco.

"Padilla’s industry expertise complements our expertise very well," said Vasseur.

Padilla offers PR, advertising, digital and social marketing, IR, crisis management, and brand strategy services with specialties in food and beverage, agribusiness, health, manufacturing, technology, and consumer products and services. Padilla includes brand consultancy Joe Smith, FoodMinds, and SMS Research Advisors.

Padilla began an employee stock ownership plan in 1992 so the firm could buy out its previous generation of managers, Casey explained.

"Being employee-owned has been good for us in terms of agency continuity," she said. "We were not looking to sell."

Padilla and Avenir began discussions a year ago. Because Padilla is employee-owned, the financial bar was set by an independent trustee. The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed.

"The question is: Does that give our employees more or less opportunities to grow and would we be able to bring more value to clients by joining something that is bigger? The answer this time was ‘yes,’" said Casey.

Founded in 1961, Padilla had 2017 revenue of $40 million, up 2%, and 210 employees in six offices across the U.S. Clients include 3M, Cargill Animal Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, and Sanofi Pasteur.

The acquisition will lead to no client conflicts, said Vasseur.

Last November, National PR established Avenir Global, which manages the firm along with subsidiaries National Equicom, Madano, Axon Communications, and Shift Communications. Avenir is owned by Res Publica Consulting Group. It has 760 staffers in 21 offices across Canada, the U.S., and Europe.

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