NEW YORK — Richard Companik has been named chief executive officer of Great Bowery, a collective of leading agencies in the fashion and luxury image-making industry. He succeeds Matthew Moneypenny, who abruptly left the company earlier this week.
Most recently, Companik has been chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Great Bowery and had worked together with Moneypenny for 10 years, first at Trunk Images Inc. and then at Great Bowery, which they established in 2015. Moneypenny will remain an investor in the firm.
“Matt was always the front of the house and I was the back of the house,” said Companik, who was earlier cfo and chief operating officer of Art & Commerce. He said Moneypenny left over differences of opinion with the company’s investors, Waddell & Reed, a mutual fund, over where the agency was going. Moneypenny didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
Great Bowery represents photographers, stylists, hairstylists, makeup artists, directors, creative directors, art directors, curators, designers, editors and other related artists through various agencies. Its roster of companies includes Trunk Archive, the image licensing firm; Streeters, a full-service agency which represents hair, beauty and makeup stylists such as Karl Templer and Pat McGrath; Wenzel & Co., a photo agency; CLM, a full-service agency, which represents such photographers as Juergen Teller and Tim Walker; MAP Ltd., a boutique photo agency; Tim Howard management, a hair and makeup agency; Bernstein & Andriulli, a full-service photo, hairstylist and makeup and art agency; Lookbooks media; Snapper Media; The Production Club, and the boutique image archives folio-id and Gallery Stock. The operation is comprised of Great Bowery New York, Great Bowery London, Great Bowery Munich and Great Bowery Sydney.
“The business has changed a lot and is changing a lot. For all of the businesses, there is a lot of pressure in the market because of the decline in print and how our clients and customers are trying to reach consumers. There’s a lot of shifting around, and this agency needs to focus on what our offering is, our broad spectrum of offering, which is our powerhouse,” he said.
Since its founding, the company’s strategy has been to bring all these founders together because they were successful business people and forward-thinking agents who shared Great Bowery’s vision, he said. “I’ve never been an agent, but I understand agents. I’m a cfo, but I’ve never been your typical cfo. I love art, I love photography, and my goal is to make this company serve our artists in the best capacity that we can,” Companik said.
He said what’s been lacking as an organization is utilizing the strength of its founders and its partners to drive the business. The challenge is to bring the artists new opportunities across the creative spectrum.
Companik called Moneypenny’s resignation “a mutual decision” between the investors and Moneypenny. Companik noted that an internal person will replace him as cfo and chief operating officer.
“Matt and I worked for 10 years together. We did this together, I lost a friend,” he said. “I’ll miss him. Am I upset? No. Am I disappointed? No. Matt needs to do what he needs to do, and I need to do what I need to do, which is to make sure this company is a huge success,” Companik said. Moneypenny has a non-compete for a year.
Companik said his number-one priority is “to rally the troops,” who were shocked by Moneypenny’s departure. After artist management agency Jed Root collapsed in March, “rumors fly like crazy in this industry,” he said. “I want everyone to know that Great Bowery is financially secure, Great Bowery is not for sale and Great Bowery is not just about one person….The founders are the driving force in this business, as well as all of our agents.”
Great Bowery employs 300 people worldwide, 200 of whom are in New York. The New York headquarters occupies the former Germania Bank at 190 Bowery and all the New York-based divisions are located there.
One of their new initiatives is the establishment of Great Bowery Film, which will be headed by Shannon Lords, formerly of Humble, a commercial production company. Great Bowery Film will represent filmmakers, including some new people and some existing talent already in the agency. It will be a fashion commercial-centric film division, concentrating mostly on advertising related material.
Companik said there are no plans to make any more acquisitions, and they need to focus on what they already have. “Buying so many companies in such a short time is a massive undertaking,” he admitted.
Discussing Companik’s appointment and Moneypenny’s exit, Tim Burger, assistant portfolio manager at Waddell & Reed, said, “There are a lot of opportunities at Great Bowery that haven’t been realized yet. We need to take advantage of those. Second, we had someone really good internally that we had a high level of confidence in. On the flip side, we’ve had a lot of opportunities that we don’t think have been fully realized here. We haven’t had a lot of the progress that we expected. When we invest in a business, we expect the leadership to build a good culture and take advantage of these things. It’s been a difficult environment, and there are well-known challenges with print and everything else. At the end of the day, we want somebody in the seat who we feel very confident can fully realize the opportunities.”
Does Waddell & Reed plan to hold onto Great Bowery long-term? “We’re investors. The plan is not to hold onto things in perpetuity. At some point, a sale will be one of the things we’ll talk about. We don’t have any plans for that today. We’ve owned this since 2013, so we qualify as a long-term investor,” Burger said.