Swell names 15-year staffer Radi Akel president as Mike Topel relinquishes role after 20 years

Swell’s new company president Radi Akel said it’s premature to talk about future plans under his stewardship for the post house, but strategy for change will be announced by the first of the year.

Fifteen-year Swell veteran Akel, VP/operations, becomes the company’s third president. He succeeds Mike Topel, who took over the company reins upon the death of his father, the iconoclastic director and filmmaker Walt Topel, who founded the editing house in 1985.

As director of operations, Akel had been dealing on a day-to-day basis with the company’s activities.

Akel started with Swell as a shipping clerk when it was located in small space in the lower level 233 E. Wacker. Over the years, Akel became a cameraman, tape room manager, and animation stand operator before taking over operations.

Topel said he would continue to sit on the board of directors, led by his mother, company co-owner Judy Topel, and work with Akel through the process of formulating new strategies. “Then I plan to pursue personal interests,” he said.

Swell has a staff of 45, which includes six editors, a colorist, two audio engineer/sound designers, the Bazooka motion graphics department, four designers and a creative director, an animation director, eight assistants and three producers.

Revenues have been averaging in the mid-$7 million range. In 1993, the company moved into 23,000 sq. ft. of space on the entire 18th floor of the NBC Tower. Clients include Chevrolet/Jeep, Sears, Hallmark, P&G, Alleve, Wrigley, General Electric and F.A.O. Schwartz.

Swell’s phone is 312/464-8000.