On Jan. 1, longtime Cooksey Communication leaders Colby Walton (right) and Jason Meyer (left) completed the acquisition of the agency from founder Gail Cooksey. Walton will serve as chairman and CEO of the Irving-based agency, while Meyer will serve as president of the 14-employee firm.
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On Jan. 1, longtime Cooksey Communication leaders Colby Walton and Jason Meyer completed the agency’s acquisition from founder Gail Cooksey. It completed the multi-year succession plan of the firm she founded 28 years ago.
Walton will serve as chairman and CEO of the Irving-based agency, while Meyer will serve as president of the 14-employee firm. The terms of the deal, completed on Dec. 31, were not disclosed.
Walton joined Cooksey in 1998, was named a partner in 2015 and most recently served as president. Meyer joined the firm in 2011, was also named a partner in 2015 and most recently served as executive vice president. The firm’s name and branding will remain the same.
Gail Cooksey will continue to provide guidance in retirement and has the title of chairman emeritus. As she reflects on the last 28 years, she is confident she is leaving the firm in great hands.
“I’m thankful for the relationships we have developed and the outstanding reputation we have earned. I am also completely confident that Colby and Jason will provide strong, capable leadership,” Cooksey said. “They have already demonstrated a clear capacity for doing so in recent years, during which time they have been entrusted with significant duties as they became partners and as I eased back from active agency management.”
We asked Walton and Meyer why they decided to buy the agency and where future growth opportunities could come from:
Can you talk about the decision to continue this agency and become owners?
Walton: Combined, we’ve put nearly 35 years into helping build the agency ourselves. We’ve got a longstanding commitment to the team, to the clients we’ve worked with for so long, and to the brand legacy. So that’s a big part of it, is we’ve been a big part in helping to build Cooksey to what it is, and we’ve learned from the best.
Meyer: What made this special for us is that I think in the last five to six years, especially, Colby and I feel like we are Cooksey. I mean, it’s not the name of Gail; it’s the name of our firm. We’ve grown up in this business with her, and we’ve helped in some pretty seismic things that have happened through the years of PR.
Where are your areas of growth?
Walton: North Texas is a great base because of the growth and the opportunity here. And that’s going to continue to be our home base and a primary area of focus. We are looking for more opportunities statewide, and doing a lot statewide, which is why we intentionally hired a new VP and head of our public sector practice down in Austin within the past year who leads a lot of our municipality work, not only in that region but statewide.
Meyer: As it relates to the core areas, one of the things we’re getting more involved in is in this mobility innovation sector that is rapidly advancing in our region, specifically as it relates to the supply chain and that piece of it.
What are the biggest lessons that you’ve learned from Gail?
Walton: One is the importance of attention to detail. It always matters. It matters to the clients, and ultimately that means it has to matter to you. We’ve established and maintained a legacy if we’re doing things the right way. And the clients could trust us to do that. … And I think tied to that is the importance of a service ethos … we want to be true partners to our clients. When our clients have a problem, we own that problem just as they do and help them find a solution. And we may have to get creative. We may have to work hard to find what that solution is, and maybe something we’ve never dealt with before. Those are the types of things that we enjoy the most.
The other thing I’ve learned from Gail is to surround yourself with smart, intellectually curious, incredibly capable people who enjoy those challenges, who relish solving those problems for clients and who take the initiative themselves to come up with answers.
Meyer: What I think this neat is to watch employees and myself as an employee earlier on … is this ownership stake that you take in working for your clients. And that’s something that’s directly from Gail, and I mean, she saw her work as an extension of the client’s work.
And then the second thing I think is to be purposeful about the business you take. Don’t try to be everything to everybody, don’t try to take things on that you can’t be successful at. And that’s what I think guided our growth through the last decade, has been that approach.
Walton: Business is ultimately about people and the relationships you have. … And so long as we remember that it’s all about people ultimately, including the people on our team, that’s how we know we’re going to be successful. If we keep those people first and foremost in our minds, and if we remember, the relationships are always critical.
Meyer: Something that we’re proud of is that we’re growing, and we’ve got a great team that’s stayed with us, and our clients have real longevity. We’ve had some relationships with most of them for 10 years or longer, and that’s something we’re all proud of.