GRAND RAPIDS — When Michelle Olson joined Lambert & Co. in 2019, she knew what she wanted to do for the integrated marketing, public relations and investor relations firm.
“When I joined Lambert, one of my criteria when I was weighing my next move was to be on the leadership team and help guide the agency as it was really starting to grow quickly,” Olson recalled. “I wanted to be part of that. It was kind of like: ‘I’m not coming if you won’t let me lead.’”
And lead she will.
Grand Rapids-based Lambert & Co. announced this morning that company founder Jeff Lambert would transition out of the CEO role, making way for Olson to take over beginning Jan. 1.
Olson, who joined Lambert in 2019 as an acqui-hire and currently serves as managing director and partner, is a 30-year industry veteran and also the national chairperson of the Public Relations Society of America.
In Olson’s three decades in the industry, she gained experience in public relations, corporate communications, issues management and integrated marketing. She founded and led a company for 13 years before exiting upon a sale to a New York advertising agency.
Lambert, who remains as the largest stakeholder in the company, will transition to become chairperson of the company, overseeing a growing portfolio of ventures while Olson focuses on growing the core business. Don Hunt, another mainstay at the firm, will remain in his role as president.
“Michelle is not going to be a caretaker — she’s going to be a catalyst,” Lambert told MiBiz. “That’s a very important piece to this. This is not to take over and manage what we have. This is growing it in a different perspective and in a different way.”
Lambert will continue to oversee innovation and the M&A pipeline for the Lambert family of businesses. That includes fintech startup TiiCKER, which uses incentives to convert retail investors into consumers while also getting consumers to invest in the brands that they enjoy and interact with regularly.
Lambert & Co. has also funded and launched a minority- and woman-owned diversity, equity and inclusion consultancy and diverse board development firm called EQUALSIGN. The company also operates AMERICANTBREATHE.org, a nonprofit “aimed at investing in nonprofits serving Black and brown communities and fighting racial inequities in America,” according to the website.
Lambert & Co. has been especially active on the M&A front, recently closing its eighth acquisition with the addition of St. Louis-based strategic communications firm The Vandiver Group.
And despite the volatility accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, Lambert & Co. grew revenue by 30 percent in 2020 and is on pace for 20-percent growth in revenue for 2021.
“Our roots are in the Midwest … a lot of those values translate into the company. You’ll see that in all our people,” Olson said. “But we are a global company, we have clients all over the world.”