At London's St. Luke's Communications, the employee-owners are challenging the corporate establishment. And business couldn't be better.
Andy Law is not your typical CEO. Not in a Jack Welch kind of way, or even a Larry Ellison kind of way. Law is a corporate chief who eschews every executive perk, from the big corner office (Law, like the rest of his 137 co-owners, must find a new place to park himself each morning) to the cadre of assistants (I can tell you firsthand, Law makes his guests a mean cup of cappuccino).

In fact, I might have taken it personally when Law escorted me into a storage room in the basement of his ad agency's London headquarters for our interview. But knowing how unusual St. Luke's is made sitting in a closet among stacks of boxes feel just right. And considering the hectic pace at which St. Luke's operates, our makeshift meeting room turned out to be the quietest place in the building.

Law, the adopted son of a minister, entered advertising in the late '70s after a brief stint as a commodities trader. He was managing director of the London office of Chiat/Day at a time when Chiat/Day itself was exploring ways to run a company differently. Law was part of a task force charged with determining the ideal advertising agency of the future. He and the others became convinced that businesses - not just ad agencies, but any business - could become more ethical in the way they treated both their customers and their employees. But before they could implement any of their findings, the agency announced its merger with the behemoth Omnicom agency.

Rather than going along with the proposed merger, Law and 36 other employees of the London office opted to form their own company, based on the principles Law garnered from the Chiat/Day task force. Thus, St. Luke's, named after the patron saint of artisans, healers, and doctors, was formed in 1995.