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Ramey cuts workforce while new Viking owner examines marketing budget

A decision by Middleby Corp., the Illinois-based parent company of Viking Range, to curtail the marketing budget for the high-end kitchen appliance maker has led to a Jackson ad agency reducing its number of employees.

Jack Garner, president of The Ramey Agency, said Monday afternoon that the firm specializing in brand strategy and marketing communications had recently “eliminated a number of positions,” but did not say exactly how many. Ramey’s website lists 39 employees between its Jackson headquarters and its media office in Memphis. Garner said the positions eliminated were all in the Jackson office.

Garner said Middleby told Ramey shortly after the acquisition in December that it would focus its marketing efforts in-house and limit outside expenses for Viking while its overall promotional budget was being evaluated.

“Any outside marketing for Viking will continue to come through Ramey,” Garner said in a phone interview, noting his agency was still working on a large project in Canada for the range maker.

At full strength, Viking was a substantial account, Garner said, but it was only a minority of the firm’s work. “More than 80 percent of our work is non-Viking clients,” he said. Among the clients listed on Ramey’s website are BankPlus, Entergy, University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi Development Authority.

“We are really fortunate to have a significant number of blue-chip clients. We’ve been able to enjoy steady and solid growth because of that. Dealing effectively with a cycle of changes is normal for any agency. We’ve done our best to stay nimble and ready to do whatever is needed. We are considering all opportunities for business expansion, which is an ongoing commitment, and also looking to control expenses.”

Middleby officials had not responded to phone and email messages by mid-afternoon Monday.

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