Kantorwassink: Growing better
Photo by Mark SanchezDave Kantor and Wendy Wassink
Leaving behind secure, well-paying jobs at a big ad firm in Chicago, Wendy Wassink and Dave Kantor set out on their own five years ago.
Creative partners for much of their careers, the two decided to form their own ad firm so they could spend more time “doing the work” and less time “politicking and pontificating” that went with life at a big ad firm, Wassink said.
They settled in Grand Rapids, where Wassink lived part-time, commuting to Chicago weekly.
“We just felt like this was a great market with a lot of great clients and opportunity, and we’ve never looked back,” said Wassink, a partner with Kantor in Kantorwassink in Grand Rapids.
Small Business Spotlight: Kantorwassink
In the second of four small business spotlightsthis year, Business Review profiles four of the 2011 "Michigan 50 Companies to Watch."
Location: Grand Rapids
Top executive: Dave Kantor and Wendy Wassink, owners
What's your biggest business opportunity?
“Our biggest opportunity, and one we’re passionate about, is building a love about Grand Rapids and West Michigan. We feel like our biggest opportunity is spreading that news.”
— Wendy Wassink
“What we saw were a lot of great companies and big brands and a lot of opportunity to bring big-agency thinking to this market in a smaller, more accessible package,” she said.
Translation: National-quality work at Midwest pricing.
“Our work is every bit as good as anything being done on the coasts — it just doesn’t cost that,” Kantor said.
Specializing in brand awareness and development, Kantorwassink sports a client roster that includes Amway, Wolverine World Wide Inc., Steelcase Inc. and Ferris State University. The firm was recently named one of the 2011 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” by the Edward Lowe Foundation.
Kantorwassink employs 12 people full time at its home on Market Avenue, south of downtown, where the firm moved about a year ago from cramped quarters of 1,000 square feet that housed the entire staff.
“It was cozy,” quipped Wassink of the former quarters.
The former home also was a setting that instilled a sense of camaraderie and teamwork in the staff.
“No one looks back (saying), ‘Man, that was fun in the foxhole,’ but there was something about that,” Kantor said. “Everybody has to have everybody’s back, and everybody has to be pulling the rope up the hill all the time.”
While their foray into their own agency has turned out successfully, Kantor and Wassink say they don’t hold any ambitious growth plans. Their goal is to get better, not necessarily bigger.
“In our world, there are better ways to grow — doing better work, better projects and just really hitting it out of the park,” Wassink said.