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We started off 2024 sharing an exciting milestone in Franco’s history – 60 years in business. (If you missed the news, catch up here.)  

Today, we have another milestone to share…  

We’ve completed an ownership transition from former majority owner and chairman Dan Ponder. I am now the majority shareholder and owner of Franco, along with my friends and fellow leaders Tina Sullivan and Nikki Little.  

With International Women’s Day celebrated globally later this week, we are SO EXCITED to share that Franco is now not only women-led, but we’re also women-owned! We plan to pursue certification as a women-owned business later this year. 

This is a dream come true for me. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spark, likely passed down from my grandfather (who owned a grocery store on Detroit’s eastside in the 1950s and 60s) and my dad (who owned auto repair shops in and around Detroit in the 80s) – making me a third-generation Detroit business owner!  

This succession plan has been in place for quite some time – dating back to 2012 when Dan identified me to succeed our former president and continuing with me taking on more investment in Franco over the years. In 2018, we picked up the planning again, this time including COO and President Tina Sullivan in the succession discussions. When Senior VP Nikki Little became a shareholder in 2022, it was clear we would be the group to succeed Dan.  

I can’t share this news without expressing thanks to Dan for hiring me 17 years ago and empowering me to lead, even early in my time at Franco. The experience and lessons over the years have prepared me for this next chapter.  

And of course, I have to thank our clients and team. We would not have wanted this so badly if we didn’t have an amazing team and the best client partners that make Franco such a special place.  

I am so proud of the company we are today. We’ve become an integrated communications agency with deep experience in a variety of services and industries. We are strategists, counselors, creators, analysts and project managers. We’re courageous, empathetic, reliable and persistent. Above all, we are a team with a culture that is unmatched. My gratitude fuels me each day.  

 So, what does this ownership transition mean? 

  • Operationally, nothing changes. By design, Dan has stepped back from the business and me, Tina and Nikki have been leading the agency for the last few years. Our culture is strong, and this will be a seamless transition for our employees and clients.  
  • Dan will serve in a chairman emeritus role through next year and be an ambassador for Franco while remaining active in the community on several boards and doing some select consulting with small business entrepreneurs. 
  • We’re staying the course and sticking to our “why” – an unwavering commitment to the growth and shared prosperity of our team, clients and community. 

To our loyal clients who choose Franco as your partner, thank you. Thank you for trusting us and making us an extension of your team. It is our honor to carry on the Franco legacy.   

If you’re a Crain’s subscriber, read more about the ownership transition here. 

Tina Kozak is the CEO of Franco. Connect with her on LinkedIn or contact us to learn more about partnering with Franco.