This past October, 14-year-old digital marketing and web development agency VividFront promoted three long-time employees to its management team—a trio of leaders boasting a heady combination of youth and experience.
The newly minted managers—Lisa Perry Kovacs, 31, Madison Riddell, 27, and Joseph Testa, 28, are primed to lead the Gateway District company into a new era of success.
Former chief operating officer Kovacs is now company CEO; Riddell, former managing director of accounts and revenue, is now VividFront’s president; and Testa, previously development director, is responsible for the firm’s burgeoning technological needs.
VividFront employees celebrating at the NorthCoast 99 Top Workplaces eventThe youth movement at VividFront comes as founder Andrew Spott transitions to a new business venture—HR Signal, an HR-centric software platform. Although Spott will remain as chairman and strategic advisor at VividFront, he is leaving the company’s daily fortunes to his talented young team.
“That trust means everything,” says Riddell, who joined VividFront in 2017. “Our stories are not the only ones like this. Our whole roster has worked with us for years and has graduated from intern to senior employee to director. It shows that age will not hold you back from running a company.”
Kovacs, a member of the VividFront staff since 2014, points to a culture fueled by nearly limitless growth opportunities. The average age across the firm is 28, emphasizing the confidence that founder Spott has in his youthful charges, Kovacs says.
“Andrew knew he could trust us to run operations and push the work forward,” says Kovacs. “He passed the baton for us to grow into the future.”
‘Getting stuff done’
Launched in 2009, VividFront is a tech-focused agency that offers marketing, branding, and web design services to clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 behemoths. VividFront clients in the finance, medical, education, and e-commerce sectors are, in one way or another, aiming to expand their operations, says Riddell.
VividFront President Madison Riddell interviewing Molly Cheraso, of Verbena Free Spirited, for their podcast, Marketing Moves.“Everyone we’re working with wants to scale up,” she says. “They may be at an initial concept and getting to early revenue, or an older company that wants to get to the next level. No two days are the same when working on a website project or rebrand.”
For example, VividFront is helping Germany-based knife maker Wusthof extend its global reach through a website redesign. On the local front, Aaron Saks of eco-friendly food service packager Green Paper Products uses the agency for marketing and web development.
“They manage our paid marketing media and a good chunk of email marketing,” he says. “Marketing and web development go together, so it’s convenient having one relationship for both marketing and the website.”
Founder Saks, whose business mostly serves the lower 48 states, lauds the VividFront crew for its dedication and attention to detail.
“I’m pretty demanding and am always making sure we have the best people working for us,” he says. “We don’t have to wait around [for VividFront] to get stuff done. I treat them like I’d treat any other employee that works for me.”
Growing the team
The 31-person staff at VividFront includes tech whiz Testa, who left a paid internship to help the agency manage its in-house web team and various client-led initiatives. As CTO, he will lead web service operations alongside solidifying VividFront’s reputation as a pre-eminent tech-forward organization.
Joe Testa, Chief Technology Officer; Madison Riddell, President; and Lisa Perry Kovacs, CEO; along with four new VividFront employees celebrate the company’s 5th consecutive year as a NorthCoast 99 winner for top talent in Northeast OhioA youth-centric company philosophy naturally embraces risk and change, not to mention an unquenchable entrepreneurial spirit that can draw attention from skilled college graduates, Testa says.
“Doing cool things as a culture becomes prevalent and energizing—none of the stuff we do together is forced,” he says. “We love working across different departments, and people like coming together for events. We don’t like the word ‘family,’ but there’s this respect and energy in everything we do.”
Hard skills are an obvious must for any business, but the new VividFront management also seeks out folks with eclectic backgrounds. One team member is a former ballerina, while another plied their trade in cosmetology.
Riddell says creativity is the commonality that not only draws people to VividFront but can ideally keep them there as well.
“We’ve built this reputation for massive growth and young, hungry talent,” she says. “When interviewing with other firms, people are promised growth opportunities that may not be on the table.
‘We have evidence [of growth] with the three of us and the rest of the team,” Riddell continues. “The proof is what gets people excited to work with us.”
VividFront’s new leaders are forecasting 10-fold business growth for an agency already at $4 million in annual revenue. Bringing in additional fresh-faced talent will only drive the agency along that journey, Riddell says.
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