FARGO — He grew up learning it from his father, and now it’s his turn to make the business grow.
The Flint Group’s parent company, RR46, recently announced Andy Reierson would be stepping into the role of CEO, a position his father, Roger, has held for many years. The advertising agency, which has been a local fixture for more than 70 years, has been perhaps best-known for its work with Bobcat and Blue Cross Blue Shield. But, in actuality, the companies under RR46 are more widespread than you might think.
“We’re just hard-working,” Andy said. “Similar to the Fargo mentality. A roll-up-your-sleeves, good-values type of company that I think appeals beyond this region.”
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RR46 is a family of businesses, including the Flint Group and AdFarm, aimed at solving the marketing communication needs of their clients.
Roger began with Flint in 1976, when there weren’t even 20 employees. It’s now grown to more than 150.
In 1982, he said, he was one of three who purchased the agency from Harold Flint. At the time, one of Roger’s senior partners was in failing health.
“He walked into my office 11 months after buying it,” Roger said, “and handed me the little CEO card he had on his desk and said, ‘It’s yours. I quit. And you’re buying me out.”
Roger officially became CEO of Flint in 1983.
Andy joined the Flint Group in 2006. A decade later he was promoted to chief operating officer, overseeing daily operations at the holding company level. It gave him an opportunity to build relationships with each of RR46’s business entities, including unit presidents and their respective leadership teams.
But, he wasn’t always interested in joining the business. Over breakfast in south Moorhead — where his arm was finally “twisted,” Andy said — he was convinced to come on board. He started with some account management for Flint and economic development with Praxis Strategy Group. That led to business development, and then he ran the digital interactive team before becoming COO.
The next logical step was CEO.
“It feels good at times,” Andy said of his most current promotion, “and it feels very scary at times.”
He also called it “fresh” and “exciting.”
“I think what makes it most exciting,” he said, “is the people that I get to work with every day.”
RR46 has 500 clients in nine industries in five countries.
His newest promotion had been talked about for 18 months or more, and RR46’s board of nine was officially informed in August. A full company announcement followed in the fall.
“It was kept pretty quiet, which is pretty amazing,” Roger said.
From a business perspective, Roger said, moving Andy into the COO role was strategic.
“He gradually took over more and more things, under the COO role,” Roger said. “I kept turning things over to him, and he’d grab them with enthusiasm. And he did a good job.”
When the time came for the promotion, Roger said, he was asked if he was ready.
“I wasn’t ready,” he told people, “but [Andy] was ready.”
When the day came to tell everyone the big news in October, they went to every office together.
“I had a lot of pride,” Roger said, “and knowing it was the right move. It’ll work out just great.”
Andy’s vision for the future?
They’re looking at adding business units “quite quickly,” Andy said, and, most importantly, talented people to make it all happen. With a tight labor market, he said, retaining talent can be a challenge.
“A huge focus of ours is really making sure we’re keeping our employees engaged and excited about the direction we’re going,” he said. “And, also making sure we have the right leadership team to lead them in the right direction.”
According to Flint’s President Jodi Duncan, RR46 is on the right track with Andy.
“It has been so smooth,” Duncan said. “Sometimes transitions between father and son can be really tricky, and emotional and frustrating from an employee’s perspective, and they’ve just done a tremendous job of making sure that, from a business perspective, we didn’t miss a beat.”