A marketing leader

 

George Havens ’49 used his chemical engineering education as a launching pad for a successful career in advertising and consulting 

 

By John Walsh

 

While studying chemical engineering at the Case School of Applied Science during the 1940s, George Havens ’49 knew he didn’t want to work in a manufacturing or chemical plant. Several of his family members worked the in the sales and marketing field, to which he was drawn. Havens ended up with a lengthy career in advertising and marketing, much of which was with Cleveland-based agency, The Jayme Organization. So influential was his career, Jayme became one of the top 200 agencies in the country (out of about 4,500 agencies), and Havens became a member of the Cleveland Advertising Hall of Fame.

 

Havens, who was born in East Cleveland, graduated from Shaw High School in 1942. His wife, Virginia, who he met when she was 15 and he was 16, also graduated from Shaw High School. They married in 1948.

 

During the Great Depression, the Havens family had a difficult time, and their financial situation factored into his decision to attend the Case School of Applied Science.

 

“It was known then that if you went to Case, you got a job,” he says, adding that he also was good in science and finished third in his class at Shaw.

 

Another factor in his decision to attend Case was family friend Al Jepson, who attended the school, became an engineer and worked for The Boeing Company. Interestingly, Havens didn’t take an entrance exam or the SAT to be accepted at Case and wasn’t required to write an essay.

 

“I handed in my high school transcript, and they said, ‘Welcome,’” he says.

 

Havens also applied for an academic scholarship. Tuition at the time was $300 a year, and the school offered six scholarships based on students’ performance on a test that included chemistry, physics and math. Placing 15th, Havens didn’t earn a scholarship. Upon graduation in 1949, he still placed 15th in his class of 273.

 

After completing his first year at Case in 1943, Havens served in the U.S. Army in the European Theater and was discharged as a first sergeant in 1946. After graduating in 1949, Havens entered the sales and marketing field, using his chemical engineering degree as a technical background.

 

“I didn’t see myself in a plant,” he says. “But it wasn’t unusual for a Case grad to enter a nonscientific field. Case alums are doctors, lawyers – they’re in all kinds of fields.”

 

Starting out

Carl Prutton, Ph.D. ’20, an engineering professor at the CSAS who left the school in 1948, helped Havens get his first job after graduation. He went to work for the Brush Development Company, which manufactured piezoelectric phonograph pickups, magnetic recorders, microphones and speakers. While at Brush, Havens helped develop ultrasonics (vibrations of frequencies greater than the upper limit of the audible range for humans – greater than about 20 kilohertz), which today are used to clean teeth and check pregnancies, among other uses.

 

While Havens worked at Brush, the company used a fledgling advertising agency, The Jayme Organization, which was started by Jack Jayme in 1947. In 1951, Jayme asked Havens if he wanted to use his scientific background to work for him. The job comprised three aspects Havens liked: technical know-how, sales and marketing, and creative writing. When Havens joined Jayme, there were eight employees. He eventually became president of the agency in 1973. During those 20 years, the agency grew slowly and steadily. When the founder of the agency retired, Havens and co-worker Ed Young bought it from him. They were determined to grow the agency faster – and they did. Havens eventually retired from Jayme in 1990 at age 65, after helping expand the agency to $50 million in revenue with 100 staffers.

 

Taking off

 

To make that growth happen, Havens took Jayme’s entrepreneurial idea of doing more than just creating and placing ads for their clients and improved it to provide clients with additional services such as public relations, graphic design and marketing research. Jayme changed the structure of how the company generated revenue from solely earning a commission on ad placements to charging a professional fee by the hour, much like lawyers, accountants and consultants. The agency then was positioned as a full-service marketing and communication firm that could deliver on its long-held commitment to client success.

 

When Havens was president of Jayme, he formalized the new business model by creating four separate companies within the organization:

 

  • a PR company, which grew 40 percent for seven years;
  • a marketing research company (the phrase “Ask Sherwin-Williams” came out of research the agency did);
  • a graphic design and packaging company; and
  • a sales and promotion company that focused on meetings and conventions.

 

Each subsidiary had its own proprietary clients and supported the clients of the other companies. The heads of each company cross-sold the others’ services, and clients benefitted from total-scope services under one agency umbrella.

 

Before Havens became president of Jayme, he returned to Case Western Reserve University to earn an MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management to learn more about business management. In addition to his advanced degree, Havens had Jayme join Transworld Advertising Agency Network (TAAN) Worldwide, a group of 25 agencies that met regularly to learn from each other.

 

“Jayme became dramatically different and better,” Havens says. “We were proficient at generating new business.

 

“Most agencies go into a prospective client meeting and talk about themselves, but prospective clients don’t want to hear about an agency, they want to hear about how an agency is going to solve their problems,” he adds. “Agencies need to provide their clients a lot of information and build trust. We wanted our clients to know how we thought, worked, charged and what we expected from them. We were totally transparent. This set the tone for our relationships.”

 

Another clever technique Jayme employed to win a high percentage of new business presentations was to make the agency’s intangible services tangible. During its pitches, the proposed account teams would cover research findings, marketing strategies and creative concepts in a fashion that simulated what it was like to work with Jayme. In contrast, most agencies did a so-called dog-and-pony show that mainly bragged and boasted about their track records.

 

Jayme’s clients throughout the years included companies such as ConAgra Foods, Diebold Nixdorf, Dow Chemical Company, Eaton Corporation, General Electric, Keithley Instruments and Sherwin-Williams.

 

The fast growth of Jayme was because of a combination of great people, superb teamwork and innovative strategies.

 

“My role was to help make our people successful,” Havens says. “If they were successful, I had nothing to worry about. To this end, we adopted an elitist hiring strategy. Every time someone left, we hired a more capable person for the position, so that over time, the overall quality of the organization escalated. We put a priority on people development. For the firm to grow, the people had to grow. So we devoted a lot of time and resources to programs to enhance people’s skills and knowledge. Thus, they were positioned to deliver superior results for our clients, which we could then tout in our new business presentations and win new clients.”

 

A point of pride for Havens was the practice of hiring talented women before that became an accepted practice. Women hired by Jayme included two unit presidents, a board member, treasurer, production manager, designer, media director, traffic manager, unit operations manager, and multiple account managers and executives – in all about 60 percent of the staff.

 

Five years after Havens retired, in 1995, The Jayme Organization ran into problems – an increasingly fragmented media market, increasing software and hardware cost, client budget cuts and globalization – and was purchased by Bozell Worldwide.

 

“Nothing lasts forever,” Havens says.

 

Winding down?

 

After retiring from Jayme, Havens started a consulting business in 1990 called Strategic Consulting to provide consultation about leadership, planning and marketing for growth-oriented organizations. Havens also was a lecturer at the Weatherhead School of Management and the American Management Association. At CWRU, he served on the Board of Overseers, two visiting committees, and advisory and alumni boards.

 

In 1991, Havens and his wife moved to Bozeman, Montana, and divided their time between Bozeman and Cleveland until 2006. While in Montana, Havens served as chairman of the National Advisory Board, College of Business at Montana State University and on the board of Jazz Montana. He also was involved in pro bono work for The Nature Conservancy.

 

The idea of living in Montana came from Charles Ramsey, who headed the largest advertising agency in San Diego, Phillips-Ramsey. Havens met Ramsey at a TAAN meeting. Ramsey, who was a hunter and fisherman, owned a ranch in Montana, where Havens and his wife had backpacked in the wilderness.

 

“Sometimes we’d go days without seeing anybody,” Havens says.

 

Ramsey convinced Havens he needed a place in Bozeman, so the Havens built a mountain home at 6,000 feet north of the city in Bridger Canyon and maintained a condo in Cleveland.

 

After 16 years in Montana, the Havens realized they couldn’t live in two places forever.

 

“Virginia pondered the question: Are we rural or urban?” he says. “She decided we were urban, and we moved back to Cleveland. We love the city.”

 

In 2002, Havens decided to write a book about his time in the Army, specifically about what happened in the Flemish city of Antwerp, Belgium during WWII. Antwerp was a vital port to the Allies as they pushed toward Germany after the success of D-Day in 1944. The book, “We Made the Headlines Possible: The Critical Contribution of the Rear Echelon in World War II,” was the first of seven he wrote. (See sidebar.)

 

In his latest, “Heroic Leaders,” which was published earlier this year, Havens writes about four visionary, courageous and inspiring heroes who were important influences in his life. Notable among these was T. Keith Glennan, who was the fourth president of Case and transformed it from a so-called streetcar college into a highly respected institute of technology. As former dean Eric Baer noted, “The Glennan era was a magical time at the Case Institute of technology.” The other heroes are:

 

  • John Frank Stevens, the civil engineer who ensured the success of the Panama Canal;
  • Heinrich Harrer, a climber who made the first accent of the most difficult face in the Alps and survived seven years in Tibet; and
  • David Oglivy, an Englishman who changed advertising into a high art form.

 

To order “Heroic Leaders,” “We Made the Headlines Possible,” or any other of Haven’s books, please contact him at 216-707-7513 or ghavens@prodigy.net.

 

 

 

George Havens ’49 bibliography

 

  • “We Made the Headlines Possible: The Critical Role of the Rear Echelon in Word War II” (2003, 200 pages, $15)
  • “A Special Time, A Special Place: East Cleveland Remembered” (2004, 166 pages, $15)
  • “A Professional Guide to Winning Presentations: Sure-fire Strategies and tactics for a Successful Pitch” (2003, 65 pages, $12.95)
  • “They All Came to Cleveland: the Clark and Havens Families” (2006, 202 pages, $15)
  • “The New Competitive Challenge: Satisfying and Keeping Today’s Tougher Customers” (2008, 135 pages, $18)
  • “The Prize: An Adventurous Life” (2012, 87 pages, $20)
  • “Heroic Leaders: Visionary. Courageous. Inspiring.” (2017, 141 pages, $18)