«There's always an element of chance and luck in this business but we're not looking to triple in size … We're looking for strong growth and to keep the momentum we have.» John Partilla, CEO of the Minneapolis ad agency Olson

About Partilla: Goes by JP in the office. Successor to the late John Olson, the agency's namesake who died last year, Partilla, 49, has helped take Olson onto a national stage with high-profile work that includes Yoplait Greek yogurt for General Mills, projects with Oscar Mayer and TiVo.

Personal file: He came to Olson a year ago from New York-based Dentsu Network West, where he was COO for the U.S. division of the Japanese advertising company. In his 28-year professional career, Partilla also served as global group president for media giants Clear Channel and Time Warner.

What's big in 2014: Olson was a $93 million agency in 2013 and is looking to break $100 million in 2014 from new clients such as Supercuts, McDonald's and Sharp Electronics.

But the advertising business is fickle, and runner-up counts for nothing. After significant preparation, Olson last year came in second in the competition to be agency of record for Porsche.

Final word: "The emotional impact from the loss of John [Olson] can never be underestimated. But it has had a galvanizing effect for us to live up to his standards."

David Phelps