Crain Communications has seen three of its veteran executives leave in recent months, including David Blake (a 24-year-vet who most recently served as publisher of Crain’s Chicago Business and who retired in September), Bob Simmons (a 30-year vet who oversaw the Akron-based group including Plastics News, Rubber & Plastics News, Tire Business and Waste & Recycling News–which he founded–who retired earlier this month) and Marty Ross (who had been with Business Insurance since 1985, most recently as vp/publisher), who moved to the new position of vp/managing director of events and business development before leaving.
However, some sources are saying Crain is asking some long-time executives to retire or transition to new roles and has changed the compensation plan to make transitions easier internally. "Bob Simmons ran Akron as an empire for 30 years and was forced to retire a couple weeks ago," says one source. "Word is that if you were over 50, you had trouble. Where you used to get a week’s pay for every year, now they get three weeks, period." ("That couldn’t be more wrong," says a company spokesperson.)
"They don’t handle executive transitions well," says another source. "It’s either too soft a touch or right out the door."
Chairman Keith Crain denies any of the three executives were asked to leave. "All three were totally different circumstances, all three were in different cities," he told FOLIO:. "Those things happen when you have 1,000 people working for you. It was a coincidence that they all retired around the same time. All had enough tenure, all had enough relationships, all left on good terms. Sadly, it happens. In full disclosure–Marty got his new role and didn’t like it and left."
Ross declined to comment.
Crain says that his sons, including K.C. Crain–who was named vice president/group publisher of the Akron group last fall and Chris Crain–vice president and group publisher of Pension’s & Investments, Business Insurance, Workforce Management and Staffing Industry Analysts–are overseeing more of the company as well as planning for future transitions.
"As a guy who is a senior executive, I see a lot of people who reach retirement age and say, ‘What do you mean? I’m not going to retire!’" says Crain. "I look around at people who’ve been around for 20, 25 years and think, are they going to stay forever? My sons, who are very much involved in the company, are looking at the transition issue. That’s one I’m not going to have to worry about."
Earlier this month Crain announced that it will move its Chicago office from what’s been its location for the past decade–360 N. Michigan Avenue–to three floors at 150 N. Michigan Avenue in 2012.