Once upon a time...
I was born in Southern Vermont and grew up in a small town. The region was so sparely populated that my high school graduating class was only 63 people, in a school composed of the seven surrounding towns. With little manmade stimulation the outdoors was my main source of entertainment and skiing became a passion. In middle school I was scouted by Stratton’s Freestyle Team and competed in moguls and aerials through my freshman year of college.
I attended college at Plymouth State University in NH. A school with a BFA design program, near by skiing and a campus I fell in love with. Taking full advantage of every opportunity I joined many organizations and worked to develop leadership skills and many friendships. Graduating cum laude I quickly found an interesting job as a designer/illustrator for a silkscreen and apparel design company in North Woodstock, NH. The allure of living in the White Mountains was too strong to pass up.
A 20-year Coaching Career.
I grew up as a competitive mogul skier at Stratton. The team provided an incredible opportunity for mental and physical growth. I contribute many aspects of my character to this team and my coaches. In 1999, my sophomore year in college, I began coaching freestyle skiing at Stratton Mountain Vermont for the team that had given me so much. My coach and mentor, Stephen Kenny (Stevek), was an incredibly kind and giving man. Always willing to sacrifice his time and money for the betterment of those around him. In high school, when considering joining the Army Stevek encouraged (and paid for) me to go see his ‘college guy’ who showed me a whole new side to the opportunity that became my college education. Stevek enabled many experiences for me over the years and did the same for countless others. When I was a freshman at Plymouth State College trying to be competitively relevant while going to school full time I was faced with the reality that it had to be one or the other. Stevek encouraged me to “give back to what has given you so much.” Thus began a 20-year coaching career.
I have been blessed to be part of such a large program with an unbelievable depth of talent and ability.
I was quickly thrown into the deep end and realized college doesn’t teach you nearly enough about the real world. My program skills skyrocketed in the months after starting at Original Design Co.. Trapping and spot-color separation became a daily task in a shop where the three creatives were in charge of bringing their concepts to print-ready reality. After a year I was creating 12+ spot color artwork trapped to perfection. After my first year OD moved into the 21st century, scrapping the stack-camera for a much faster (and chemical-free) digital image-setter.
After two years at Original Design Company I met a girl on one of my regular weekends at Stratton. One thing lead to another, somebody said “you should move out to California”. A few weeks later I was on my second drive cross country. My little three-door Ford Focus SVT packed to the gills (had to replace the rear shocks when we got there) and cruising through the countryside. I spent the next year living in the O.C.. I left NH with nothing but a car full of stuff and an avid desire for adventure. Once I arrived stop #1 was to buy myself a new motorcycle. A brand new 2004 Suzuki SV650S. Stop 2 was to figure out a job. That came quickly enough when I ended up at Hayes Martin Assoc. in Newport Beach. Southern California’s premiere agency for branding and marketing new home developments. With the market nearing its peak the amount of work was immense. There were weeks where I was sizing and releasing over one-hundred ads for dozens of publications. I was able to work with Art and Creative Directors to learn a ton about advertising. After about a year, said girl who I had already moved cross country for once was accepted to Law School in Boston so that fall we moved back to the right coast.
Back To The Right Coast
A third coast-to-coast trip, a third opportunity to see more of this amazing country. In the fall of 2005 I found myself in a new city and on the hunt for a well paying creative outlet and looking forward to ski season and being able to coach again. I began freelancing with several different agencies, keeping myself very busy, and was able to quickly gain an understanding of different companies understanding of “best practices”. The result was getting very good at doing the same thing a bunch of different ways. This was a great opportunity to be a student of process. Learning not only how company X,Y and Z would do something, but after a while developing my own “best” way to solve many problems. From redesigning all of the packaging for Kryptonite to designing and laying out massive catalogues for Sundance/Newbridge or designing a multi-stage direct mail campaign for Columbia Management. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities in my career to fill a wide spectrum of creative needs.
In the fall of 2007 I started a short freelancing position at The Boston Group. In typical fashion, what started as a 2-3 week gig turned into as many months. In December TBG decided I was too valuable to lose and bought out my contract. Thanks TBG. Timing was perfect as Massachusetts had just passed Romney-care — making health insurance mandatory. Thanks again TBG. I began in the Studio resizing ads and making revisions. I was able to prove myself not only through my creative proficiency but as one with a good eye for process. After pointing out some holes in their process to the traffic manager she and I began working on redefining the expectations and processes within the Creative Department. As a result TBG became more efficient and able to invest the time saved to take in more work.
When we had grown out of our servers and it was time for a major system overhaul, I was tasked with creating an optimal workflow and file and naming structure for our two new servers. One server for working design files, the other a well organized image repository for final/approved images. The two drives gave an easy means to easily check links, assuring a file had final/approved artwork.
As my experience grew so did my responsibility. TBG’s wide range of in-house capabilities and major branding endeavors — for Fortune® companies and start-ups — I’ve been able to work on just about everything under the sun. From coins to castles to Disney rides. Indoor, outdoor, and doors themselves. Subway station dominations to webpage dominations. At The Boston Group anything was possible and even the impossible gets done.
Time to get Rugged
After 7 years at The Boston Group I took the opportunity to transition from agency life to the start-up scene when I stumbled across a posting for a senior creative role at a Mack Cuban backed start-up discovered on ABC’s Shark Tank. I jumped at the opportunity. Rugged Maniac has a unique position in the obstacle course racing (OCR) scene as they offer a comparatively short race with far more obstacles than any of the competition. It’s an adult jungle gym spread across 5km. An entry level race for those curious about doing an OCR but not so excited about a 10+ mile event. It’s a great market position that I had a great time building up and promoting.
Over the year I was with Rugged Events I developed the brand for Rugged Maniac, The Great Bull Run and Rugged Events. Social media played the key role in promoting awareness and followers were key to increasing conversions. My first project was to reinvent their Facebook & Twitter presence. Within a couple weeks of implementing more exciting and well crafted posts the number of followers and page/post likes began increasing considerably. In six months the number of page likes grew 50% and daily posts were averaging nearly 1,000 likes — over a 3x increase. With the newfound digital popularity I shifted to rebrand the event materials and experience. I proposed an array of options and scenarios to increase the branded presence and level of polish from signage to tents with a whole bunch of swag in between. The new t-shirts and medals were met with rave reviews from participants as was the new starting/finish arena and tents. The overall impression went from that of a backyard hodge-podge to a top level international event series.
A $1.5B Start-up
W.R. Grace & Co. has been a storied legend of business for generations. With a history spanning over 150 years the company and its founder, William Russell Grace, are responsible for great innovation and many historical milestones. For example W.R. Grace, when the mayor of NYC in the late 1800’s accepted the statue of liberty from the people of France. The company is also responsible for modern refinery technology and are responsible for replacing lead can sealant with non-toxic materials. Just a few of W.R. Grace’s subtle influences that effect our daily lives in profound ways. Their portfolio of products is broad and they serve many industries. In 2015 the company announced it would consolidate its specialty building materials, specialty construction chemicals and Darex® packaging technologies divisions into a single new company named GCP Applied Technologies.
In the second half of 2016 I started working with GCP to implement and roll-out a new identity.
Big Brands and Huge Events
George P Johnson is one of the oldest privately owned creative agencies in the world. They are the originators of the auto-show and are respected as a global leader in Experiential Marketing. On by first assignment with GPJ I worked on the IBM account to create branded experiences for both externally hosted and proprietary events such as TED Talks, The US Open of Tennis and the World of Watson. Working with a team of creatives and strategists, I conceived, designed and oversaw production of thoughtful experiences to convey IBM’s product goals. Experiences ranged from small 20’x20′ booths to major conferences spanning entire Las Vegas conference centers.
A few months later I went back as an Associate Creative Director to create Alibaba‘s Gateway ’17 in Toronto, Canada. This event at Toronto’s Enercare Centre occupied over 1M square feet and acted as a bridge between the Chinese market and North American small businesses. We created many stages, break-out rooms, meeting spaces, exhibition spaces and even a broadcast studio in the middle of the show floor. The schedule was fixed and client expectations were very high but the GPJ team (as always) stepped up and hit a home run. It was a blast to go up to Toronto for the week to oversee the build and set-up of the event. We had some very long days, but to see the space when it was done was incredibly satisfying.