Deadline Passes With No Wientzen Successor

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The Direct Marketing Association's search for a successor to president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen will extend beyond its previously designated July 1 deadline, the DMA said yesterday.


Wientzen had been expected to step down yesterday. The delay results from the executive search committee continuing its hunt for the best candidate and is not from any holdup in negotiations with a candidate already selected, a DMA spokeswoman said.


"The DMA is confident that the search process is moving along in an appropriate and efficient manner, consistent with the principles originally outlined by the DMA board and the executive search committee," the association said in a statement. "As soon as the search committee concludes its process, the name of the new head of the association will be announced."


Michael P. Sherman, chairman of the search committee and vice chairman of Crosstown Traders Inc., was unavailable for comment, the DMA spokeswoman said. A new deadline was not set.


The pool of candidates for executive positions at nonprofits has not been a problem for organizations doing searches, said Richard A. Murray, president and chief operating officer/business manager with Paschal Murray, San Diego, which specializes in nonprofit executive searches. Searches can bog down if the organization's search committee is too big and consensus is difficult to find.


"Some organizations can make searches very difficult," Murray said. "You always want perfection. That's not always attainable."


Long searches mean less money for the search firm, Murray said. Search firms receive a fixed percentage of the final candidate's salary no matter how long the search takes.


Last year Paschal Murray averaged 98 days on its searches, Murray said.


According to tax records, during the DMA's 1997-98 fiscal year -- Wientzen's second as head of the association -- Wientzen made $388,644 in salary and received $104,934 in contributions to his benefits. In the 2002-03 fiscal year, the latest for which tax records are available, he made $585,000 in salary and received $133,000 in contributions to his benefits.


Wientzen announced his retirement in December, saying he had promised his family he would retire at age 65. In January, the DMA formed a committee of seven current and former members of its board of directors and began its search.


The committee chose Spencer Stuart to lead the search in March. Two consultants from the search firm, direct marketing specialist Christopher Nadherny in Chicago and nonprofit expert Leslie Hortum in Washington, headed the project.


Wientzen took over the DMA in 1996. He previously served as CEO/chairman of Advanced Promotion Technologies Inc. and had a 27-year career with Procter & Gamble. He assumed leadership at the DMA just as the industry entered the peak of the Internet boom.


Members often credit Wientzen with guiding the DMA through the rise of interactive marketing followed by the collapse of the Internet bubble and the economic malaise that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, e-mail marketers criticized Wientzen for his definition of spam as fraudulent e-mail only, not as unsolicited bulk e-mail.


Wientzen led the DMA into a period of expansion with seven new chapters created and several outside associations acquired, including the Association of Interactive Media, the National Federation of Nonprofits and DM Days New York. Under Wientzen, the DMA also acquired several conferences, including DM Days New York and net.marketing.


The explosion of privacy issues in the public consciousness highlighted the end of Wientzen's tenure. In his last year, the federal government began a national no-call list for telemarketers, gave serious consideration to a do-not-e-mail list and even entertained calls for a do-not-mail list.


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