Office Park Plaza to have grand opening

WICHITA — Almost a year ago, Have You Heard? first reported that the former Allegiant GMAC Real Estate building at 4601 E. Douglas, which some people remember better as former Associated advertising space, would become Office Park Plaza.

Contractors Christian Shomberg and Mark Eggel bought the red brick Colonial-style building near Douglas and Oliver to create a concept that Shomberg described as similar to Max Cole’s Office This on East Harry.

They’ll offer office suites and full-service office needs, such as reception, phones and shared conference rooms.

The two say there’s been extensive remodeling at the building, which sat empty since late 2008.

There will be an open house from 2 to 6 p.m. on May 25, with a ribbon cutting at 3 p.m.

Associated adds Springfield, Mo., office and changes names

Associated Integrated Marketing's new Springfield, Mo., office is in 1,300 square feet at the 100-year-old Mulhollan-Kelley Building across from Founders Park in downtown Springfield.

WICHITA — Associated advertising, which will now be known as Associated Integrated Marketing, is adding a new office in Springfield, Mo.

“This is our first office outside of Wichita in our 65-year history,” says public relations director Shawn Steward.

The office will be staffed by three people from the Springfield area that Steward says Associated staff knew through previous business relationships.

“We knew that we wanted to find digital resources to bring in house,” he says.

That includes offerings such as web development, social media, mobile marketing, interactive applications and coupon services that Steward calls essential to effective marketing.

He says in the past, the agency — like many other agencies — has sometimes hired freelancers to do that work.

“We’re at a tipping point, I think, where it makes sense for us to bring this type of specialized, highly skilled resource in house,” Steward says.

The Springfield office will have three employees addressing that kind of work:

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Bruce Rowley and Jeff Ablah to start Rowley and Ablah advertising agency

UPDATED — Bruce is back.

No one in the Wichita advertising community should be surprised that Bruce Rowley couldn’t stay away long.

The former Associated CEO, who left in 2006 for stints at Invista and Pulse Systems, is returning to the industry with Rowley and Ablah, an agency he’s formed with real estate developer and investor Jeff Ablah.

Rowley says the idea is, “Why don’t we start a different kind of ad agency together where it’s a little more business focused and a little less . . . pretty picture oriented.”

It’s the kind of talk that’s reminiscent of comments that quickly gave Rowley a brash reputation when he returned to Wichita in 2002 following an international advertising career with large agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi and DDB Worldwide.

Ablah hasn’t been in the agency business before, which Rowley thinks may be a good thing.

“He doesn’t really yet know what many people think the rules are, if that makes sense.”

Rowley also says in addition to having a lot of great local and national contacts, Ablah “also just has a fantastic strategic business mind.”

Mike Snyder, who succeeded Rowley as Associated CEO before being forced out early this year, was going to be the third partner in the new agency. In fact, when the company incorporated, it was as Rowley, Snyder and Ablah.

“Mike’s not capable (of) having any involvement in this,” Rowley says. “Not at the moment.”

Snyder couldn’t be reached for comment, but it sounds like a noncompete with Associated prevents him from leading another agency right now.

Associated’s structure is what caused Rowley to leave the agency.

“The key reason why I left Associated . . . (was) it was never going to be a place that I could own,” he says. “It’s been a goal of mine to make sure I didn’t get back into advertising working for somebody else.”

Associated is owned by its employees, and Rowley says part of the agency’s money goes to paying people who haven’t worked there in years.

“I always had a bit of a problem with that.”

He and Ablah have leased space at the Terra-Cotta Tower at 29th North and Rock Road, where they’ll open today.

For now, it’s just the two of them, but by the end of the month Rowley expects there to be six employees. A couple of client announcements likely will come before then.

“I’ve had a great time being on the client side,” Rowley says of his time away from agency life. “Done a lot of really interesting things.”

A change was probably inevitable, though.

“I love doing this work, so it’s really fun to get back to it,” Rowley says.

“I’m not coming into it with some grand vision of wanting to get to a destination.”

Rowley quotes Jay Chiat of the legendary Chiat/Day advertising agency.

“The experiment was let’s just see how big we get before we get bad,” Rowley says, paraphrasing Chiat. “And you know, frankly, he discovered how big that was and sold it and left.”

Rowley’s idea is to just see what happens.

“The point is let’s do really great work. Let’s have fun. Let’s do the work that everybody else in the market wishes they could do and have a great time doing it.”

Office Park Plaza to locate at former Allegiant GMAC Real Estate building

WICHITA — After sitting empty since late 2008, the red brick Colonial-style building near Douglas and Oliver has a new owner.

Contractors Christian Shomberg and Mark Eggel have bought the building at 4601 E. Douglas, where Allegiant GMAC Real Estate used to be and Associated was before that.

The two plan Office Park Plaza, which Shomberg describes as similar to Max Cole’s Office This on East Harry.

They plan to lease office spaces, which will come with desks, phones and computers, on a month-to-month basis.

“The idea is kind of staging an office,” says Shomberg, who owns other commercial and residential properties.

Shomberg also is a national contractor who paints Pizza Huts.

Eggel has M.L. Eggel Construction.

Shomberg says since the economy began struggling, he’s found that it’s easier to lease space that’s already furnished.

“This I’m taking to the next level to having everything provided,” he says.

The 12,000-square-foot building has two stories and a basement that will all be for lease.

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Oeno Wine Bar to expand in Old Town

WICHITA — Oeno Wine Bar is expanding.

The Old Town bar currently has 3,500 square feet and a 60-seat outdoor patio.

Owner Melad Stephan is now subleasing an extra 2,000 square feet behind Oeno from Associated advertising next door.

He’ll use 800 square feet for a party room.

Stephan isn’t sure what he’ll use the rest of the space for.

“I’ve got to figure out, what’s Old Town need?”

That could be a small grocery, which Stephan says Old Town sorely needs.

“It has to be the right spot.”

Or he may turn the space into a smoking lounge.

Stephan also now will be able to extend his patio even further for another 40 or so seats.

He says that will allow him to hire regional music groups that draw more people.

“That’s going to be a huge patio.”

Mike Snyder discusses his departure as Associated’s CEO

UPDATE — Mike Snyder is out as CEO of Associated, the second-largest ad agency in Wichita.

Whether it was his decision to resign or if he was forced to leave is unclear.

“You know, those are internal workings that we just don’t discuss publicly,” Snyder says.

A statement from Associated says:

“Associated appreciates Mike’s innovative, steady leadership, especially during a period of challenges in the overall economy.”

Bill Fialka, who joined Associated in 2007 and is vice president of client service, will be the interim CEO.

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Mike Snyder no longer Associated CEO

snyder.jpgWICHITA — Mike Snyder is out as CEO of Associated.

In response to calls from Have You Heard?, the advertising agency released a statement saying Snyder resigned.

“Associated appreciates Mike’s innovative, steady leadership, especially during a period of challenges in the overall economy,” the statement said.

Snyder, who joined the agency as a vice president in 2003 and became CEO in 2006, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Bill Fialka, who is Associated’s vice president of client service, will be the interim CEO. He joined Associated in 2007.

During Snyder’s tenure, Associated lost some large, longtime accounts.

In 2007, the agency lost Intrust Bank, which had been a client for 26 years.

“This is not anything we’re worried about,” Snyder said at the time.

“In my view, business is business. You’ve got your ups, and you’ve got your downs. . . . You go on and you make your own success.”

Last year, Preferred Health Systems ended its 13-year relationship with Associated.

“Nothing lasts forever but God, a mother’s love and the United States Marine Corps,” Snyder, a Marine, said then.” You know, you move on.”

Associated also landed some sizable accounts under Snyder’s direction, including Wesley Medical Center late last year.

You don’t say

“Security needs to be extra tight that night to keep Kanye from bum-rushing the stage.”

Associated public relations director Shawn Steward’s comment on this blog after hearing Taylor Swift is coming to Intrust Bank Arena

Associated creates, pulls River Festival video

mike-snyderThere’s a video that briefly circulated about the Top 10 things that can get you in trouble at the Wichita River Festival. But Wichita Festivals didn’t produce it — or even know about it.

Associated, which creates the River Festival poster every year, did the video. But it wasn’t a client job.

“We decided to have some fun,” says chief executive Mike Snyder.

“We don’t talk about funnel cakes,” he says. “We talk about some things that are very real. Very human.”

And very inappropriate to print in a family newspaper.

“When you get 100,000 people out, you see all kinds of different things,” Snyder says.

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