This year has been a doozy. Quite honestly, I think everyone that makes it through 2020 should get a participation trophy — although I’ve been historically against the idea that everyone wins. We just started the fourth quarter of 2020, and generally, that’s where the upset happens. Stay tuned, playas.
Fifteen years ago I started a little company called Madison+Main. We had one employee and zero clients. I rented a small office in the AdvanTech building on the fourth floor, a business incubator with peeling paint and large, leftover desks. The room was only big enough for two desks, so I crammed four in there. My first Art Director Scott Clark was a talented designer, but I could only afford to pay him 20 hours a week, as a contractor. A week before I opened I got a pack of business cards from Wythken Printing and met a recent VCU grad named Taylor Malbon. I bought her six pints at Penny Lane Pub and begged her to join the crew. The three of us were unstoppable. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we did it anyway. Our first client was Vera’s Fine Jewelers. Our second was Wythken Printing, who needed a website. From these humble beginnings, we grew…albeit slowly…for the first two years. I am proud to say that Wythken and Vera’s are still clients today. In 2005, we grossed a five-digit revenue and then six-digits in 2006.
In 2007, I hired another young firecracker, Molly Quarles (now Whitfield), as a Production Coordinator. In 2007, our second full year of business, we hit the seven-digit mark. In the last 13 years, Molly has gone through the entire ladder at M+M. From entry-level employee to running the place. Earlier this year, Molly became President of the firm, so I could focus on creative work and new ventures like the Texas Inn restaurants.
I’ve already had more than 400 people send me congratulations on Facebook and LinkedIn. They’ve complimented me on the growth of Madison+Main and our longevity. It’s not easy starting a marketing firm in the middle of town with sooooo much competition, but we did it. We survived the Great Recession and we’re thriving during the current one. In 2020 we’ll have 20 FTEs before the end of the year and our revenue is up — better than any of the 14 previous years. #knockonwood But if you’re going to congratulate anyone, send an email to Molly. We simply would not have accomplished this without her and the many hard-working, talented people who have worked here throughout the years. Some days I feel every single year of my 52 revolutions around the sun. Today I feel 15. Youthful, but proud of the things we’ve done. I’m eager to learn more and do more. Fifteen is pretty sweet, but just like the time I got my learner’s permit, I still have a lot to learn about the road ahead — but I’m excited about the ride.
Monday, September 28 — Picture Perfect
On Monday I got to check out some amazing new photos that our friend Catt Levesque shot for our client The Governor’s Land at Two Rivers in Williamsburg. Normally, a photographer is going to be good at shooting things or shooting individuals. Catt has that rare talent where she can do both very effectively. Plus, she’s a pleasure to work with. Click here to check out her work.
Tuesday, September 29 — Waitin’ & Debatin’
It was good to be back at Rotary Tuesday morning and see my socially distanced fellow Rotarians. We shared breakfast burritos while Mike Carroll of Focus Business Development gave a talk on navigating leadership challenges in the age of COVID-19. He introduced me to an acronym I had not heard before: V.U.C.A. which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. When I got back to the office, I researched it a little more and found this helpful article from Harvard Business Review. V.U.C.A. might be my favorite new acronym to describe 2020. #whattheVUCAyoutalkinabout
On Tuesday evening I got together with my good buddy and client JJ White, owner of Dale Carnegie Training. The idea was simple: we would grab a couple of beers, eat a little dinner, and watch the Presidential Debate. In actuality, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done recently. First, we convinced the server at Hooters to give us a corner table. When the manager saw her trying to change the channel, she stopped her and abruptly told us, “We don’t play politics on TV. It’s corporate policy.” I called Hooters Headquarters and found out that was a lie. #checkplease We moseyed down Broad Street another mile to Kickback Jacks, ordered a beer and some grub, and were once again visited by a manager who told us, “We’re not going to play the debate tonight because we don’t want any trouble here.” #eyeroll Proving that the third time is the charm, we took our business to Hurley’s Tavern where the beer was cold and people from both political persuasions were friendly towards each other. Much friendlier than the candidates were to each other. Finally, Americans were united Tuesday night — the first Presidential Debate was an utter disgrace.
Wednesday, September 30 — Celebrating 15 Years!
On our Wednesday Production Meetings, Office Manager Mollie Banks likes to wake us up with thought-provoking questions. It’s the only thing I look forward to on Hump Day. This week she asked the Madison+Main-iacs, “If you were to teach a class, what would the topic be?” I heard lots of great answers from my team members but was surprised most when Creative Director Art Webb said he would like to teach a newborn parenting class.
Wednesday was also Madison+Main’s official 15th anniversary. We tried to take a simple picture of us holding up the number 15 on our Zoom call. Hilarity ensues.
Thursday, October 1 — Talking Numbers
On Thursday, our friends at Camp Hanover reached the end of #GreatCampGive, a fun initiative to raise funds that will strengthen their ministry and set the course for the future. Thanks to donations from many generous friends and former campers, they were able to raise over $110,000. It’s not too late to donate, but hurry.
Also this week, we literally rolled out our COVIDWISE GRTC bus wraps for the Virginia Department of Health. If you aren’t one of 573,298 Virginians who have already downloaded the app to help stop COVID-19, you can click here to download it on your iPhone or click here to download it on your Android.
Friday, October 2 — Never Mist Out On A Holiday
Earlier today I realized that our mad national obsession with turning every day into an international holiday had reached rock bottom. Today is National Produce Misting Day. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is a holiday dedicated to those automatic sprinklers you find just above your leafy bunches of kale at Kroger. To celebrate I’m going to travel to Kroger — the good one in Carytown, not the bad one on Broad — and put my enormous head under a produce mister and call myself Mr. Produce.
Be sure to read this week’s quote below.
A Few of Our Favorite Events
Zoom | Richmond, VA
October 7, 2020 | 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Virtually join the Madison+Main-iacs Wednesday, October 7th for a drink (or two) using Zoom! We’ll continue practicing social distancing, share good news, and cheers through the computer during our eHappy Hour! Be sure to bring your favorite beverage and connect like never before!
4308 Hermitage Road | Richmond, VA
October 24, 2020 | TBD
Our good friend, Bobby Kelland from Aflac, is gearing up for his second non-profit bike ride this year on behalf of Andrea Starr and the Forward Foundation. This time, it’s a 50-mile ride from Bryan Park to Ashland and back. The ride will raise money to support single mothers and provide them financial assistance for quality childcare, as well as educational workshops. Donate today online or text “Donate” and the amount to 804-352-2820 (ex: Donate $5) to help him reach his $15,000 goal by October 24.
1 Bowman Drive | Fredericksburg, VA
November 14, 2020 | 6-9 p.m.
Smith Bowman Distillery and Earth Apple LLC have partnered to bring you a unique bourbon experience! Master Distiller Brian Prewitt will start the evening off with a guided tasting of rare Abraham Bowman Limited Edition Whiskies, accompanied by delectable small bites specially selected by Chef Jessica Wilkins. Following the tasting, Chef Jessica will treat guests to a 3-course dinner served with carefully crafted bourbon cocktails. Tickets will cost $125 per person and go on sale October 14 at 10 a.m. via Eventbrite.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.“
— Dr. Seuss (Theodor “Ted” Geisel)