Kansas City, Mo. – He’s cool, calm, collected and one heck of a snappy dresser to boot. In short, he’s a quintessential ad man and the leading force behind one of the region’s most successful ad firms.
In February 2017, Rand Mikulecky will leave Sullivan Higdon & Sink after 35 years with the company. He has served as a managing partner since 1998.
Length of tenure aside, no one will argue the notion that Mikulecky is one of the most influential people in the agency’s history. Since his hiring in 1981, SHS has undergone changes both big and small. Mikulecky’s fingerprints are all over each of them, which include:
• Growing the employee roster from 12 to nearly 140
• Pioneering a team structure to replace traditional agency departments
• Opening a Kansas City office to join the founding Wichita location
• Helping to hire and groom a strong leadership team
• Ensuring that SHS and its employees remain in robust financial health
In addition, he helped bring onboard and nurture some of the agency’s largest current and former clients, such as SONIC®, America’s Drive-In®, Merial, Pizza Hut, Cessna Aircraft Company and Coleman.
“When I first joined SHS, I had no great plan and no idea even how long I would stay with the firm,” Mikulecky said. “But as I learned more about the business and I developed a great respect for the founders, I knew I wanted to be involved in any way I could. I take great pride in SHS, its role in our communities and our success in the industry.”
While the future of SHS appears bright, Mikulecky’s past has much to do with it. He came to SHS from Cessna, after co-founder Al Higdon persuaded him to help develop SHS’s aviation industry business and strengthen the account service team. He worked his way up to director of client services in 1987, became SHS president in 1997 and managing partner just a year later.
“Watching Rand mature and blossom from an exceptional marketing person into one of SHS’s managing partners, where he shared responsibility for the firm’s unprecedented growth, has been one of the joys of my time in the business and since,” said Al Higdon, retired SHS co-founder.
Mikulecky was instrumental in SHS’s acquisition of the Avion Group, an aviation-specialist agency in Lenexa, Kansas, which resulted in the new SHS location in Kansas City. In 2003, he left Wichita to join fellow managing partner Lynell Stucky in the young Kansas City office. The duo led the branch together until Stucky’s retirement in December 2015.
“I was fortunate to be entrusted with a great responsibility – taking an agency that was founded by three great guys, growing it and making the necessary changes throughout the years to secure its future for everyone who works here,” Mikulecky said.
“Rand doesn’t just have history at SHS – Rand is the history of SHS,” said Ali Mahaffy, agency co-CEO. “Aside from Wendell Sullivan, Al Higdon and Vaughn Sink themselves, there are very few people who have had a bigger impact on the agency. He had a clear vision of what he wanted SHS to accomplish. And he stuck to his vision – even when it wasn’t always comfortable. He’s a fearless problem solver who has a passion for wanting to make a difference at SHS, and we will all miss him.”
One of those visions was to foster more of a “one agency” mentality between the Wichita and Kansas City locations – that increased inter-office collaboration, more shared resources and greater exposure to the entire leadership team could create efficiencies and bolster company culture. In making this a reality, Mikulecky and the rest of the leadership team have completed hundreds of trips up and down Interstate 35 over the years.
“I learned a lot from Rand’s leadership,” said John January, agency co-CEO. “But perhaps the most important thing he taught me was to always make the brave decision.”
Mikulecky spent several years on the executive committee of the Advertising & Marketing Independent Network (AMIN), and currently serves on the executive committee of the William Allen White Foundation Trustees at the University of Kansas’ William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
He’s had active roles in the YMCA, Wichita Festivals, Inc., the Wichita and Kansas City Chambers of Commerce, the American Royal, Venture House, Communities in Schools and the American Red Cross.
After leaving the agency, Mikulecky will keep busy with his family. He plans to travel with his wife, Susan, including more frequent visits to see their daughter in Texas and son in New York. A Wisconsin Badger at heart and by degree, he also wants to spend more time with his father in America’s Dairyland. He won’t shy away from the golf course, where his desire to succeed on the links will only be matched by his desire for SHS to continue growing and innovating for its clients.
About Sullivan Higdon & Sink
An Ad Age Agency of the Year and Business Marketing Association’s B2B Midsize Agency of the Year, SHS exists to inspire brands and people to be remarkable. With offices in Kansas City and Wichita, the agency’s client roster includes AMC Theatres; Bayer Animal Health; Burns & McDonnell; Cargill; Lowe’s Home Improvement; Merial; Procter & Gamble; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City; INTRUST Bank; The Kansas City Chiefs; Kansas Health Foundation; Pratt & Whitney; SONIC®, America’s Drive-In® and Shatto Milk Company, among others. Agency focus areas include the food value chain (FoodThink blog) aerospace and defense, marketing to men and big brand start-ups. Connect with SHS at facebook.com/wehatesheep, linkedin.com/company/shs and @wehatesheep on Twitter.