Thursday, June 21, 2018
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Charlex Expands Mgmt. Team; Weil Ups Byrnes

Charlex, the hybrid graphics/design/visual effects/production/post shop under the aegis of founder Alex Weil, has expanded its management team. Weil, who continues as CEO/executive creative director of the New York house, has relinquished his title as president, promoting editor/project leader Chris Byrnes into that role.

Weil has also named nine VPs, each a Charlex veteran. By extending major decision-making powers beyond himself to key staffers, Weil explained, the company is better positioned for growth. For example, Byrnes taking the day-to-day reins of Charlex frees Weil to initiate expansion plans, which include a diversification into sound design, moves on the 3-D front, and bringing on additional interactive resources. The latter entails fortifying Grain Media, an interactive sister shop launched by Charlex late last year.

Byrnes has been with Charlex for 15 years, starting out in its tape room and moving up the ranks, from assistant editor to editor, then graphics director, project leader and now president. He plans to continue his involvement as a creative on select projects. At press time, he was editing an American Express job for Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and a Lowes Home Improvement Stores campaign, out of McCann-Erickson, New York.

Weil related that two dynamics—the big picture and "pressure from below"—provided impetus for his expanding Charlex's management team. From the company's inception some 25 years ago, decision-making responsibilities have fallen solely on Weil. And while the firm is coming off its busiest year—even in the midst of a general industry slowdown—Weil felt he was on the verge of being spread too thin. "I didn't have one more ounce of time, space and energy to devote to growing the company—to pursue the interactive sector more, for instance," he related. "I had hit the wall and needed to empower the people here, who have been responsible for the high quality of our work over the years."

That empowerment also made sense in terms of helping key staffers to advance their careers. "We have lots of veterans with 10 years or more at the company—talented people who need to grow," said Weil. "I felt pressure to make that happen, to keep our core group happy and intact."

Elevated to VPs are senior editor John Zawisha, a 15-year Charlex veteran; senior Flame artist/technical director Greg Owen, also with 15 years under his belt; senior Flame artist Marc Goldfine, who's been with the company 10 years; senior producer Steve Chiarello, another 15-year vet; director of engineering Harry Skopas, who's been with Charlex for a dozen years; executive producer Amy Kindred, who's served at the company for four years; business manager Tom Ferguson, who has a decade-long tenure; financial controller Donna Herman, another four-year staffer; and corporate affairs specialist David Langley, who has been on board for 15 years.

Weil reasoned that by empowering this group—most of them the same people who deliver creative for the studio—Charlex can be more responsive to clientele, as well as to technological change. Regarding Byrnes' qualifications as company president, Weil cited the vet's "creative, technical and people skills. Not only does he edit spots and lead projects, he provides critical strategic direction and client relationship management as well."

Byrnes noted that his overseeing day-to-day operations should enable Weil to "innovate and create even more" for the company and its clients. At press time, Weil had his creative hand in several projects, including Sprint for McCann-Erickson, New York; Perrier, in conjunction with McCann and director Michael Schrom of Michael Schrom & Company, New York; and Qwest for DDB Chicago.

Other Charlex staffers should also gain creative opportunities with Byrnes' promotion. He explained that already-established studio talent will move up to take on some of the assignments he might have been in line for prior to his assuming managerial responsibilities. For example, editor Kevin Matuzewski is currently working on a client-direct campaign; last year's package for the same advertiser was cut by Byrnes.

Additionally, up-and-coming artisans figure to get the chance to contribute to more projects. Byrnes noted that Charlex's test division has been a spawning ground for editorial and graphics talent. "Part of the plan," related Weil, "is to bring the next generation of artists up through the company ranks."

Also underway is a redesign of Charlex's workspace. The multi-million dollar renovation will include expanded client studios and dedicated space for the aforementioned test commercial division and Grain Media.