CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When Charlie Ryan left his job as a television news director in 1974 to start his own advertising firm, all he had was a typewriter, a phone and an idea.
The retired Charles Ryan and Associates founder remembers his first day when he walked into his office and realized he had to get to work if he wanted to make a name for himself.
On the eve of his company’s 40th anniversary, Ryan was honored for his excellence in the field of communications with an award that carries his namesake.
Within 10 years of starting Charles Ryan and Associates, Ryan grew his company’s brand until it became the largest advertising and public relations firm in West Virginia, an honor the agency still boasts today.
During his successful career, Ryan opened offices in Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C. He later sold his branch in the nation’s capital, but the company hasn’t lost a step.
“We’ve always had fantastic people and a fantastic product,” Ryan said. “I’m very proud the agency continues today under great, dynamic leadership and continues to produce stunning work.”
Ryan, with his sights set on retirement, sold the company in 2007 to a local investment group led by Henry Harmon, the president and chief executive officer of Charleston-based Triana Energy. Three years later, Susan Lavenski and Caryn Foster Durham, longtime employees of Ryan’s, took over day-to-day operations with the help of Dustin Lanning, CRA’s chief financial officer.
With the change in leadership came a change in location as well. Once headquartered at BB&T Square in Charleston, CRA was relocated to luxurious office space at Appalachian Power Park.
Lavenski runs the firm’s Charleston location and Foster Durham works from Richmond, and while the two offices are separated by more than 300 miles, they form one cohesive 27-person team…