Read even more coverage at Crain’s Cleveland Business.


AKHIA, a strategic communications agency, based in Hudson, Ohio, has named a new president—the second in its 17-year history—and CEO, a new position for the company.

Effective November 1, 2013, Ben Brugler assumed the role of president, formerly serving as the company’s executive vice president. Jan Gusich, AKHIA’s founder and former president is moving to the role of CEO.

According to Gusich, AKHIA’s growth and ongoing expansion, beyond traditional marketing communications strategies, led to this decision.

“Ben and I sat down two years ago and began working toward this change. Our focus on service, which has been our mission from day one, was driving our business beyond what you would consider traditional marketing communications. This created a need for Ben to be free to continue the agency’s evolution as well as for me to focus on the needs of the C-Suite.”

Brugler has nearly 15 years of experience, all within the agency side of marketing communications and all but one with AKHIA. He joined AKHIA in 2000 as an account coordinator and held several account service positions, including vice president, account development in 2005 and executive vice president in 2008. Brugler joined AKHIA as its eighth employee and has been able to watch the agency grow to nearly 60 employees today.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth by staying committed to our mission of best-in-class account service. The length of our client relationships is nearly double the industry standard. We have been able to attract some of the strongest talent in Northeast Ohio. To say we have a strong platform to build on would be an understatement.”

In her new role as CEO, Gusich will be focused largely on global communication strategies as well as continuing to develop the agency’s emergence in crisis communications and reputation management. She will also oversee strategic agency operations.

“The energy our agency has is contagious. Ben’s vision to change the way companies think of agencies—to expect more from us—is something we are all committed to. In today’s environment, it doesn’t come down to what clients expect from us—it comes down to redefining what they should expect from us.”