CLEVELAND – April 9, 2015 – Dix & Eaton announced today that President and Chief Operating Officer Chas Withers will become president and chief executive officer, effective July 1. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Chaikin will continue to serve full-time as executive chairman, devoting additional time to client service.
Withers, 50, will become only the third CEO in Dix & Eaton’s more than 60-year history. Chaikin, 58, succeeded the firm’s iconic co-founder, the late Henry Eaton, as CEO in 1998 and became chairman January 1, 2000, following Eaton’s retirement.
“Chas is an outstanding leader and trusted advisor with tremendous ability and experience. He’s a great asset to our clients, our people, our firm and our community,” said Chaikin. “As part of our long-term succession plan, he has taken on increasing responsibility over the past seven years, and his impact on the strategic direction and success of our firm has grown steadily. I am confident that Dix & Eaton will continue to thrive under his leadership.”
Withers, a member of D&E’s Board of Directors, became president in 2008 and added the COO title in 2013. He has been responsible for day-to-day operations, client service, staff management and development, practice development and marketing. Withers has been with Dix & Eaton for 17 years, having been a client previously. In prior roles at the firm, he served as leader of the marketing communications, technology and emerging growth practices.
“I am both excited and humbled by the opportunity to continue to build on the legacy that has been so firmly established at Dix & Eaton,” said Withers. “I’m proud of our outstanding people and the service they deliver every day on the complex, high-impact issues that matter most to our clients.”
D&E’s history dates back to 1952, when Eaton teamed with John Dix to launch a Cleveland-based industrial advertising agency to serve local businesses. The firm expanded into corporate communications and then investor relations in 1970. Today, Dix & Eaton, which was twice named the nation’s midsized firm of the year by a leading industry publication, is an integrated communications/investor relations firm with a diverse national client base and global reach.
Already nationally recognized for expertise in investor relations, media relations and crisis communications, the firm continues to handle major challenges such as proxy contests, corporate rebranding, culture change, crisis situations, CEO transitions, IPOs, M&A transactions and more.
Withers said Dix & Eaton has also invested heavily to expand its capabilities in evolving corporate priorities, including corporate social responsibility (CSR)/sustainability reporting, social media engagement, content marketing and marketing analytics, as key stakeholders continue to expect more from companies – and as companies expect more strategic return from their communications functions.
D&E continues to serve the majority of northeast Ohio’s leading companies and institutions and, thanks to a diversification effort led by Chaikin and Withers, now derives nearly half its income from non-Ohio clients such as AkzoNobel, BASF, Calumet Specialty Products Partners, Energizer, Illinois Tool Works, Kelly Services, Motorola Solutions, PPG, Southwest Airlines and UnitedHealth Group.
Though the client footprint of the organization has grown substantially nationally and internationally, its commitment to Northeast Ohio remains a core value, as evidenced by the more than $10,000 per employee that the firm invested in pro-bono activities in 2014.
Following the transition last year from an ownership group that included several outside investors (four of them members of Eaton’s family) and about half of its staff, Dix & Eaton is now a 100 percent ESOP-owned company.
“Dix & Eaton is a firm of great people doing great work, characterized by continuity and low turnover among its staff and clients,” said Jim Boland, the former EY vice chairman and Cleveland Cavaliers president and CEO who has served on D&E’s board since 2000. “I’ve had the privilege of working with Henry, Scott and Chas and have seen each add to an outstanding legacy and culture. D&E will be in great hands with Chas as CEO, and having more of Scott’s time available to serve clients is a real win-win.”
In addition to client service work and continued service on several civic and corporate boards, Chaikin will become chairman of the Global Board of Worldcom Public Relations Group, the world’s leading partnership of global public relations firms, in May.
About Chas Withers
In addition to his firm leadership responsibilities, Withers provides strategic consulting, transactional insight, crisis communications, marketing and branding counsel to public companies, private and non-profit organizations and start-up entities in industry sectors including manufacturing, consumer products, advanced materials, bioscience, professional services, financial services and information technology, among others.
Before returning to Dix & Eaton in 2000, Withers was managing director for strategic marketing and communications for Answerthink Inc., a Miami-based international consulting firm specializing in front-to-back best-practice solutions for Fortune 1000 companies. In his various roles at Answerthink Inc., he supported the company’s initial public offering in 1998 and oversaw the strategic communications initiatives of several operating divisions and more than 1,500 employees.
Withers was a senior account executive in Dix & Eaton’s media relations practice between 1995 and 1997. He also served as director of media relations at Case Western Reserve University and held corporate communications positions with Malone Public Relations and Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron.
A graduate of Kent State University, Withers holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and he has twice been a member of teams selected as recipients of the Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America. He has been heavily involved in the region and Ohio with civic engagement and board participation, with organizations including the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority (OTTA), where he is immediate past chair; OneCommunity; The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission; The Great Lakes Science Center; Business Volunteers Unlimited (BVU); the President’s Council Foundation; Achievement Centers for Children; St. Joseph Academy: Lakewood Catholic Academy; West Side Ecumenical Ministries; El Barrio and The Lakewood Community Services Center. Withers is also a graduate of the 2007 class of Leadership Cleveland.
About Dix & Eaton
Dix & Eaton is an integrated communications consultancy specializing in media relations, investor relations, crisis communications and marketing communications. Working as partners, we bring deep experience, foresight and creativity to every relationship and help clients realize the full power of communication to drive results. Founded in 1952, Dix & Eaton is 100 percent employee-owned and has twice been named the nation’s best midsized firm. For more information, visit www.dix-eaton.com.