After founding the Primedia Unlimited business 11 years ago, Ken Varejes is bidding farewell to the company on the 31st August as he plans his next move in the marketing and advertising industry. Under his tenure, Primedia Unlimited has shown a 33% growth in turnover and a 39% year on year growth in profit.
Gordon Muller puts it most succinctly: “Ken in the future? Who knows? But if he was a racehorse I’d put my money on him.” Chris Botha echoes these sentiments: “Ken Varejes epitomises the word “legend”. He has done it all – from leading major corporate organisations, to starting a business from the bottom up, and making a huge success of it.”
Virginia Hollis adds: “I’ve known Kenny V for an awfully, awfully long time so I have lots of stories, which I’m not going to tell. But if you ask me to find one word to describe Ken it would be “brave”. Moving out of a corporate at this stage is daunting, but we all know that his entrepreneurial spirit will just drive him to be more successful in whatever venture comes next.”
Primedia Unlimited began its humble beginnings in 2004 and is today the most diverse OOH business in Africa with 15 independent and profitable businesses. The company now has a staff compliment of around 340 people, which feeds some 2000 family members – this in a country where jobs are key to our ongoing success and development.
“Ken is master of the win-win deal and always has an eye on the bottom line: not just his own bottom-line but everyone in the mix. He’s no pushover and he’ll take your advertising money but never without first making sure that his clients get the value they’ve paid for,” says Gordon. “That’s the key to his success and the remarkable success of Primedia Unlimited under his tenure. He’s never just sold media, he’s structured business solutions and offered measurable marketing outcomes.”
“Ask me to describe Ken and I would say he’s brave, charming, charismatic, generous, big hearted, respectful, moralistic, approachable, knowledgeable, wicked with a great sense of humour and one of the original bad boys of the industry,” says Virginia. “So it’s great that he’s just moving on and not out. So to my friend the hooligan with a penchant for Jameson’s and tequila, I raise my glass and say cheers, welcome to the non-corporate side. Love you madly!”
“I’ve had the privilege of working with magnificent people at Primedia Unlimited who will undoubtedly take the company to new horizons but the time has come to move onto my next industry project,” says Ken. “Innovation is key to what I have always focused on and I have a few exciting ideas and concepts that I will be exploring and running with.
I must thank Primedia who have been great partners from the early management to present time and I have appreciated their guidance at key times.”
Gordon adds: “Ken really is one a few media visionaries who is as competent with the detail as he is with the big picture. He’s as comfortable using jargon with the media technocrats as he is talking bottom-line numbers with marketers in the boardroom. But, however good you may be with the numbers you don’t get to be winner in the media industry with being a mensch or a great leader. Ken is both. Work hard play hard never had a better acolyte.”
Chris says that Ken has the Midas touch in life. “Whatever he gets involved with turns to gold, not through some “magical blessing” – but through who he is… hard working, friendly, determined, honest, and a pure mensch of a human being. Ken understands people, which is actually something very few people do. He makes friends as far as he goes, but he does so on an equal and respectful manner. I am blessed to consider him a personal confidant and a friend.”
Throughout his career, Ken’s love of the out of home, and the advertising industry in general, is very evident. From his days at the SABC to the Star Taxi Music/ Taxinet and Comutanet days in the 90’s Ken has loved being part of the industry and being involved with such an incredible bunch of talented people across our diverse media environment. But now he’s keen to see what further opportunites exist.
Primedia’s former Group Marketing and Sales Executive, Ryan Williams will take the helm as Group CEO of Primedia Unlimited effective 1st September 2015.