‘We Were Such a Different Entity to Jeld-Wen’

Darren Rankin, president and CEO of CMD

CMD wants to brand itself as a top advertising agency in the Pacific Northwest after gaining independence from its manufacturer parent.

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When Darren Rankin joined CMD three years ago, the advertising firm was owned by an unlikely parent, window and door manufacturer Jeld-Wen.

Jeld-Wen, once one of the largest private companies headquartered in Oregon, bought CMD two decades ago. The acquisition gave Jeld-Wen more control over its branding and marketing by bringing those activities in-house. CMD continued to operate independently, serving other customers.

But that model eventually proved unsustainable as Jeld-Wen came under increased scrutiny as a public company and moved its headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina, a few years ago.

“We were under Jeld-Wen’s values,” says Rankin. “Those are great values, but they were not written by us. It became hard because we were such a different entity to Jeld-Wen’s operations.”

The manufacturer quietly sold the agency in May. Rankin; his wife, Charity Dart; Rod Wendt, whose late father, Richard Wendt, co-founded Jeld-Wen; and Kevin Thomas, a former ESCO Corporation executive, bought out the company.

Rankin, president and CEO of CMD, says he aims for the newly independent firm to be known as a “top agency in the Pacific Northwest,” as well as one of the best places to work in Oregon.

CMD faces a competitive field in a market dominated by the likes of Wieden + Kennedy. Competition for both clients and talent is fierce, he says. CMD is one of the larger advertising and marketing firms in Oregon with around 150 employees.

Since becoming independent in May, CMD has rebranded itself with the launch of a new website. It promoted John O’Connell, a 20-year veteran of CMD, to executive creative director, bringing a “single creative vision for the agency,” says Rankin.

The firm also hired Mairi Burns as managing director of strategy to shore up its leadership team.

Rankin is keen to emphasize that his firm has bucked the trend in corporate-acquisition exit strategy by returning to private ownership.

The agency is committed to expanding as a homegrown Pacific Northwest company, he says.

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