A Q&A Session with Co-Founders, Elton Mayfield and Renae Krause
This year, ER Marketing is celebrating its 20th Anniversary! Since 2001, ER Marketing has taken pride in building brands for the building products industry with strategy and creative that drives real results and builds loyalty, reputations and bottom lines. ER Marketing’s unique experience with the industry and expertise in championing the channel is spear-headed by co-founders, Elton Mayfield and Renae Krause. In celebration of the company’s milestone and accomplishments, Elton and Renae sit down to reminisce over how ER Marketing has come to be what it is today and to discuss what they think the next 20 years has in store.
What drew you to the building industry?
E: I grew up around construction and my family’s business was in construction. Through that experience, I found that every person I met within the industry, whether it was a construction worker or a company owner, was genuine and down to earth. I was drawn to how much pride people have in what goes into construction and how it helps build America.
R: Early in my career, I chose between two different paths, which lead to me working at Variform (which became Ply-Gem, which is now Cornerstone) and serving as their first marketing person. I immediately fell in love with the industry at that job in my early 20’s and went from there to an advertising agency in Michigan that specialized in building material clients. I’ve found it to be a sophisticated industry that’s driven by the most authentic people.
How did you two first meet?
E: We worked together at Payless Cashways, which at the time was one of the biggest retailers in the home improvement industry with 200 stores that generated $2 billion in sales.
R: We had the unique opportunity to run an in-house advertising/marketing agency within a giant, publicly traded company. We had 30 employees and handled advertising/marketing/communications programs for the company.
What lead to you deciding to go into business together?
E: We had both worked with a lot of agencies all over the country and continually were disappointed that they simply wanted to sell us what they were good at but didn’t understand our business or try to help solve our problems as clients. Having worked together, we knew that we would make great business partners and knew that we could trust one another.
R: We had entrepreneurial dreams and had acquired success doing it inside the company, so we thought it would be fun to do it without the corporate parent being part of it. We loved the building industry and decided that is where we would focus our efforts and look for clients in that industry. I think every great partnership has a yin and a yang—we have the same values, but we tend to come at things differently. We’ve found that it’s made our work styles very complementary to one another, as we each bring something unique to the table.
How has the agency grown/developed over the years?
E: As I mentioned earlier, many agencies try to sell you what they’re good at versus what you truly need. ER Marketing has always grown and honed our capabilities, offerings and resources based upon our clients’ needs as they continue to evolve over the years.
R: We have been a consistent size for the last 8 years and continued to refine our focus on our core industry. Because of that, the agency is on the edge of explosive growth due to the proper positioning, the best employee group and a focus on the industry where our expertise is extensive, and our passion is intense.
What are some of the most important things you’ve learned while running ERM?
E: The importance of being a partner with our clients to go beyond just turning out work, but to provide them with recommendations, insights and solutions, as well as to anticipate their needs as the industry evolves.
R: The only thing a business like ours has to offer clients is expertise. That comes from hiring the absolute BEST ERM’ers and ensuring we are always learning and on top of the latest trends that will make a difference. Not simply new trends or fads of the moment but solid marketing and communication tactics that will create results for our clients or help them think in a new way.
What are a few of your favorite memories?
E: In the first couple of years, we had a tradition of going to Dairy Queen to get a dip cone if a meeting went well. When we’d leave a meeting or opportunity, we’d often ask if it was “dip-cone-worthy”.
R: Costco trips to buy things for the agency; moving into new office environments and setting up the physical space in ways we thought employees would love and would facilitate creative thinking; holiday parties; being profitable enough to be generous employers; adding new services; volunteer days at Habitat for Humanity and a thousand others.
What do you think will come in the next 20 years of the agency?
E: I think we can definitely expect change, especially when it comes to new technology, communication and the building materials industry as a whole.
R: I’m excited for our brand becoming more recognizable, new products and service offerings and growth!
Elton and Renae look forward to 20 more years of the agency serving as a trusted ally for the building products industry as they continue to build the future together. So, keep an eye on this space to take part in the year-long anniversary celebration and to see what ER Marketing will do next.