Nicholson Kovac, Inc. Co-Founder Retires

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John "Nick" Nicholson enjoyed 38 years in advertising; 26 at Nicholson Kovac.

October 19 marks the official retirement of Nick Nicholson, co-founder of Nicholson Kovac, Inc. (, one of the nation's top independent advertising agencies. Honoring his legacy and celebrating Nicholson Kovac's future, Nicholson's colleagues, clients, friends and family gathered at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Oct. 13, to properly fête him.

More than 400 people attended the party, which included the presentation of a special gift to Nick from Nicholson Kovac employees. They commissioned artist Ted Burn to paint a watercolor of the Nicholson Kovac building at dusk with Nick's corner office illuminated and his familiar sail boat visible in the window. The painting is symbolic of Nicholson's illuminary role as Nicholson Kovac's chief creative officer over the years.

"Since announcing his retirement plans some time ago, the agency has had ample time to prepare for Nicholson's retirement," says Pete Kovac, Nicholson Kovac's cofounder and president/chief executive officer. "Our management team is in place and rock solid. Necessary financial transactions are managed by our five-year-old seller-funded ESOP. Nick is leaving Nicholson Kovac well-platformed for a great future."

During his retirement, Nicholson plans to spend time with his family, which includes wife, Patty, three grown children and four grandchildren. He and his wife are also active in the Kansas City community and fine arts scene. In addition to his many hobbies, Nick plans to return to his cartooning skills.

Kovac will continue to lead Nicholson Kovac as president and CEO, with support from key discipline leaders. Phil Gayter, who joined Nicholson Kovac in March as director of creative services, will lead the agency's creative efforts.

Of Nicholson Kovac's leadership, Nicholson says, "I have the utmost trust, respect and confidence in Pete, as he continues to be the leader that has built this agency from scratch. I know its future is in good hands."

Nicholson began his career in 1969 as a graphic designer and later entered the advertising agency world at Fletcher Mayo and then Valentine Radford, where he and Kovac worked together. On Jan.1, 1981, together with Steve Huntley and Paul Welsh, Nicholson and Kovac started the agency known as NKH&W Marketing Communications, Inc. In 2004, the agency became an employee-owned company known as Nicholson Kovac, Inc.

Photographs (high-resolution and low-resolution) from the Oct. 13 celebration are available upon request.

About Nicholson Kovac, Inc.:
Nicholson Kovac, Inc. (formerly NKH&W, Inc.) is an integrated marketing communications company with capitalized billings approaching $100 million. It is among the top 40 largest independent agencies and serves national and global brands. At the heart of Nicholson Kovac's work is Relevant Ingenuity SM, a proprietary process of discovering the relevant issues long before the search for creative solutions begins. The result is smarter, more efficient communications that deliver measurable results for clients.

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Brooke Ehlers