The ownership of WebStrategies Inc. is transitioning over to its CEO under an agreement that was finalized earlier this month, according to officials at the Midlothian-based digital marketing agency.
The agreement between CEO Chris Leone and the company’s founder, Neal Lappe, will transfer full ownership to Leone, who became the chief executive in January.
Leone, who began as an entry-level employee with WebStrategies in 2008, said the transition plan has been in the works for several years. Leone became president of the company in 2016.
“It’s just something that I’ve personally invested so much into,” he said. “The idea of walking away from it would have been just really difficult for me.”
The company works to improve search engine optimization for its clients, many of them small and mid-sized companies, Leone said. WebStrategies also places digital advertisements on Google as well as on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Leone, a 2003 graduate of Midlothian High School, added that he wants to continue working with the employees of the 25-person firm and helping them grow and accomplish their goals.
“Being part of their professional journey is really important to me,” he said.
Lappe, who founded the firm in 2004, continues his role as the chief financial officer of WebStrategies.
He said it was his idea to transfer ownership to Leone, whom Lappe said has “done a remarkable job as CEO.”
“I’m in the twilight of my career,” Lappe said. “And it was critical for us, it was critical for me, that our employees and our customers continue to experience the good work that we’ve done, the good place we are to work even after I’m no longer with the business.”
Lappe is also the founder and CEO of another company called Selling Forensics, which he said develops “high-performing sales teams” for other businesses.
The financial terms of the WebStrategies deal were not released. Lappe said ownership of the agency is being transferred to Leone over a 10-year period.