It’s official. Strother Communications Group is 25.
We are now among the 7% of all American businesses that made it to a quarter of a century.
May 7, 1992 is our official start date, but the company really began sometime in late November of 1991. I simply didn’t get around to filing the articles of incorporation for about 6 months. I was busy.
When you fill out the form at the Secretary’s office they ask you for the company name. I didn’t actually have one. At the time it was just me, and I hadn’t really thought about a real business name, so I thought Strother Communications would cover what I was doing, but I added Group to the name out of sheer optimism and because I always intended to build a business. I did not like being a freelance consultant, in fact, I could hardly wait to be able to hire an employee. Working by myself getting the business started was a necessary step, but it was the phase of the business I definitely liked least.
In July of 1992, I moved the business out of the house and into an office on Lake Calhoun. I began working with a former ad agency colleague and we won our first major account, a sock company in Iowa that was an anchor client for seven years.
Creating the Culture at Strother Communications Group
One of the big benefits of starting your own business is you can design it to be a place where you actually want to work. In addition to the founding mission of creating an innovative agency that could execute seamless integrated communications, creating a great culture was always one of my major goals when the agency was in its infancy. I was planning to spend the rest of my career working at SCG, so I thought I might as well make it a place I looked forward to coming to every day.
During the 25 years, we’ve had some amazing adventures. We did the plan and execution for Jesse Ventura’s inaugural celebration, including his swearing-in ceremony. Watching the post-it note go on the chair marking Arnold Schwarzenegger’s front row, center seat in the rotunda was an unforgettable moment. Our agency, in partnership with Target, invented the Diaper Derby. We also did a nationwide campaign to educate children about the hazards of starting to smoke called 2 Smart 2 Smoke. We orchestrated a partnership with UnitedHealth Group, National Theater for Children, the University of Minnesota and the American Lung Association. It was both effective and immensely rewarding. We were doing the media relations in Washington, D.C. the day President Clinton was impeached. (Some days are better than others to try and get media coverage for a client.)
We have had several clients for nearly 20 years. We have also been able to recruit some of the most talented people I have ever worked with. We recently added two outside directors to our board, both remarkably accomplished and talented people. Without the veteran leadership and skill of our team including our president, creative director, media relations VP and administrative director, I don’t know how we could have survived the economic fallout from 9/11 or the near complete economic collapse of 2007-2009.
Minnesota PR legend, Dennis McGrath, said to me early in the start-up phase of SCG, “There are easier ways to make a living than public relations.” That is certainly true. There are many issues that must be handled that can be downright gut-wrenching. But as I have often said to anyone who will listen, most of the best things in life are difficult. The easy stuff is often fun, but not deeply rewarding – unlike working every day with talented people on a common mission to do great, meaningful work, accountable together for the results we have promised.
And it is still a place I enjoy coming to every day.