Rod Wenz and Randy Neely
Rod Wenz retired as Chairman and CEO of The Wenz-Neely Company, a Louisville-based public relations firm that served such clients as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dollar General Corporation and the Louisville International
Wenz-Neely was Kentucky’s largest PR firm when it was sold to Shandwick, a
British company, in 1989. Shandwick ultimately became part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, the world’s largest advertising and public relations organization. Wenz continued to serve as CEO of Kentucky operations through 1994. The company’s successor firm now functions under local ownership as the New West Agency.
Rod was business editor of The Courier-Journal in the late 1960s before joining
Randy Neely in 1971 to form the public relations firm. Prior to that, Wenz served as Chrysler Corporation’s public relations representative in Illinois.
In the 1960s, he covered city and county government and organized crime as a
reporter for the Rockford (IL) Register-Republic, and served as its Belvidere (IL) bureau chief. Earlier he served as city editor of the Fremont Guide and Tribune in Nebraska after attending the University of Nebraska School of Journalism.
Wenz graduated from the Leadership Kentucky program in 1986 and served on the Board of Directors of the Kentuckiana Chapter, University of Nebraska Alumni Association. He passed away November 19, 2008, soon after receiving the Excellence in Public Relations award.
Randy Neely began his career in 1966 as a public information specialist with NASA in Huntsville, Alabama, as the Saturn V rocket was being developed and tested to send American astronauts to the moon. He later joined Nashville-based Holder-Kennedy & Co., working on the firm’s KFC account. When KFC relocated from Nashville to Louisville, he was transferred in 1969 to Louisville
to open an H-K office, and in 1970 relocated to Richmond, Virginia to open another office. Returning to Louisville in 1971, he and Rod Wenz, former business editor of The Courier-Journal, founded The Wenz-Neely Company. The firm grew to become the largest public relations firm in Kentucky and one of the leading firms in the southeast. Wenz and Neely also founded Kentucky Business Ledger, the state’s first business newspaper, which they later sold.
As a counselor, Randy primarily was involved in media relations, environmental affairs, community relations, issue management and in developing internal and external communication programs. His clients included companies in health care, distilling, fast food service, chemical production, tobacco, banking, law, public accounting, and energy.
After Wenz-Neely was acquired by Shandwick, he joined the College of Business at the University of Louisville and for 10 years was an Executive in Residence, working on marketing communication for the college. Randy retired in 2006, completing a 40-year public relations career.
Randy is a native of Nashville and a journalism graduate of the University of
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