As of January 1, 2015, our company will have completed 20 years in business. I began with an idea of functioning independently — first as Flinchum Inc. and soon thereafter as IridiumGroup. Having worked in publishing and later, in 1994, at Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette, I was convinced that I could deliver exceptional creative and design services that met or exceeded those at top agencies, and do so competitively.
What I never expected were the relationships that came along with that endeavor, or today, the gratitude that I have for those relationships. Over the past 20 years, we’ve worked for hundreds of client managers, far smarter and more capable than myself, who not only took a chance and gave us the opportunity to lead a flagship brand or marketing asset, but who also encouraged, guided, and mentored us along the way. We learned and developed professionally, as did our clients, from sharing our own experiences. We met their peers, friends, and families in some cases, and became good friends ourselves.
I came to understand that Iridium is not on the other side of the fence trying to “pitch” and earn a new client on the roster. If we’re fortunate enough, we’re hired to join the client team in their own fight to build their brands, increase the equity of their company, and grow their business. In doing so, we all become part of the same team with the same goals: Success for the company we work for, which in turn will lead to our own individual development and viability.
All of these professionals went out on a limb to some degree to present us with the gift of new business. They believed in and trusted us — and we trusted and believed in them. Good will is still an important and hugely underestimated value of any business relationship, and I have always believed in reciprocating this client trust with exceptional work and tangible results.
Internally, I never expected hiring the impressive level of talent I have over the years. I’ve learned so much from the strategists, programmers, designers, creative directors, account and operational managers I have had the privilege of employing. The seasoned veterans and consulting partners to the firm have given me the equivalent of a business MBA. However, most rewarding to me has been serving as a thriving platform to develop young professional talent — dozens of fledgling staffers who have gone on to accomplished positions and who flourish today working on world class brands in marketing, publishing, advertising, and communications.
2015 and Beyond —
Things change, and if there is one character trait that could define Iridium over the past 20 years, it’s been the ability to adapt to meet the market, deliver on emerging needs and customer trends. Whatever works to build your brand image, retain existing value, and acquire new business — that’s where we focus our creative energy.
It’s been an interesting challenge to manage a small company through two recessions and a protracted global downturn. Navigating the disruptions and chaos of an industry in revolution is quite another. We’ve seen a continuing sea change in how brands are built and sustained:
• Globalization is reshaping whole labor and economic markets;
• Advances in technology have enabled increased competition and saturated agencies to a point of commoditization;
• Traditional services have been turned on their head, creating a progressive shift in what defines the very essence of an agency, design, or public relations firm;
• New business models continue to emerge to serve changing B2C and B2B needs.
Iridium’s model has also changed with the times. We have just relocated our offices to remain in alignment with a business plan that has been in place for the last three years. Agility is the goal for all businesses these days, and we’re no exception. We have been increasingly working as a virtual company, as our existing employees have relocated to various parts of the world. Our current team resides in the Czech Republic, Seoul, Korea, New York, and Los Angeles, not to mention the extended communications, technology, and strategy partners who consult to our clients on behalf of Iridium. This core group of employees and partners is comprised of professionals who have all worked together for 10+ years — we’re proven through collaborating on hundreds of initiatives together.
These relationships have produced astonishingly success and award-winning results. In 2013, we began considering taking the next step in the “virtual agency” experience. In recent months, we relocated to workspace near our current offices that will enable us to work with a core staff and function as a central hub from which to manage all aspects of each project.
I’m personally looking forward to exploring and developing this model even further. We are working on building our capabilities through relationships with SEO specialists, social media experts, and data analysts working in mobile services. My personal goal is to build IridiumGroup into the world’s first virtually operational agency. I want to maximize the benefits of “local meets global.” Skill sets are becoming increasingly specialized, and this new model presents desirable opportunities for our clients as well as our staff.
We are no longer confined to hire the smartest, most effective talent in New York who work in a traditional setting; we are now able to engage and work with the best and brightest experts, each with deep specialization — anywhere in the world.
20 years. Looking back, it’s been a fascinating, inspirational journey, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Looking ahead, I can only dream of what the future holds.
Please accept my best wishes this holiday season. I feel tremendous gratitude for the gifts that I have, both personally and professionally. I hope your remaining days of 2014 bring happiness, love, and gratitude, just as I hope the New Year will present new ideas and relationships that enlighten and delight you.
Tags: 20 year celebration, anniversary, branding agency new york, company changes, design firm new york, dwayne flinchum, IridiumGroup, new agency model, virtual agency
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