Bob Shallit

Pioneering Sacramento communications firm opening L.A. office

Electrician Eloy Durarte of Pacific Neon Co. works on the repainted and refurbished Mercury Cleaners sign.
Electrician Eloy Durarte of Pacific Neon Co. works on the repainted and refurbished Mercury Cleaners sign.

A Southland expansion is in the works for one of one of Sacramento’s oldest and most prominent communications firms.

Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, founded in 1960, is opening a Los Angeles office – its first outside Sacramento – on July 1 with four employees.

“This was a natural decision in that for more than 20 years we’ve carried out statewide marketing campaigns and worked in the Southern California market,” said Chris Holben, the company’s president.

The move into Los Angeles has been long considered but happened somewhat serendipitously. RS&E had been working on a contract basis with an L.A. firm, Citizen Relations, on social marketing efforts but was informed that Citizen was exiting that business.

Vicky Lelash, the head of Citizen’s social marketing team, subsequently reached out to RS&E, asking if her folks might continue to work with the Sacramento firm on specific projects.

“We could have just partnered (with them),” Holben said, “but we thought, ‘Wait a minute. Let’s bring them on board.’ ”

That was last year, but the RS&E folks only recently opted to lease Southern California office space after the company won a contract that Holben calls “a significant piece of business in Los Angeles.”

RS&E has been on a growth tear. It has 70 employees, $38 million in revenue and recently won its first international contract – promoting a nonalcoholic beer from Germany’s Erdinger Weissbrau as a sports recovery drink.

But Holben said the firm is in no hurry to open more offices.

“We want to be smart about our growth,” he said, “and prove the model in L.A. before we do any other expansion.”

Back to the future

The neon Mercury Cleaners sign, a midtown landmark, is about to make a return to 16th Street.

The ornate sign, in place since 1945, came down last fall after state officials found contamination at the cleaning company property and eventually razed the building.

Fortunately, officials with CADA, which owns the original site, were able to negotiate a new lease for the company right across the street at the Legado de Ravel building. And they also paid to paint and refurbish the sign, which hasn’t had functioning neon tubes for more than a decade.

“We wanted to honor the postwar neon signage that was common along that street when it was Highway 99,” said Marc de la Vergne, CADA’S deputy director.

The sign will be installed at the new location on Monday but will be covered until Friday at 7 p.m. when it will be unveiled and turned on at a celebration at 16th and O streets.

The gathering will have a decided 1940s vibe. Old cars will be on display. Guests are being encouraged to wear attire from that era.

“We’ll have snow cones and hot dogs to give it a vintage summer’s night feel,” said CADA communications manager Karen Ulep, who has picked up a burgundy “Joan Crawford-style” dress for the occasion. De la Vergne is getting in the spirit, too. He’s shopping for a double-breasted suit and a fedora.

Retro radio station strikes chord

“Sacramento’s K-ZAP,” a new radio station modeled after one that left the airwaves in 1992, is generating quite a buzz.

T-shirts promoting the station – which goes by K-ZAP, not KZAP – are selling out. Stickers, like those that once adorned cars throughout the region, are being ordered. Coffee mugs will likely follow.

Why are so many people excited about bringing back the spirit of a station that’s been dead for 23 years?

Dennis Newhall, one of the organizers of the new venture, said people recall a station that played a diverse mix of songs, old and new, popular and lesser-known “deep cuts” – not just the same hits over and over.

“That’s what killed radio,” he said of the arrival of consultants who believed people only wanted to hear music from a tiny playlist.

The new station is set to debut on July 4 on 93.3 FM. The starting time that day: 9:33 in the morning.