Celebrating 40 years in business in 2020, it’s only fitting that Pathfinders Advertising receives recognition as Small Business of the Year. Founded by CEO/Owner Stephen Ball, the strategic marketing communications firm has succeeded over the years by delivering the “Pathfinder Way.” This means to build relationships and partnerships, start with strategy, work with urgency, be resourceful, exceed expectations, and eliminate surprises through transparency.
Five years ago, the agency employed 36. Today, the firm employs 67, an 86% increase, while also elevating sales by more than 60% between 2015 and 2019. Many of their team members are seasoned veterans with 15-30 years’ experience in the industry. The firm has been successfully hiring local talent, as well as bringing new talent into the market from Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, California, Ohio, Texas and Tennessee.
In 2016, the agency transformed the dormant Frank’s Wholesale Florist warehouse at 1250 Park Place in Mishawaka into a creative office space, relocating from its Edison Lakes Parkway, Mishawaka, office. The 15,500-square-foot building, which had been vacant for nearly a decade, features an open environment to bolster creativity, collaboration and employee productivity. The new space, which
saw both internal and external renovations, now includes a 2,500-square-foot, full-service photo/video studio to accommodate this growing client requirement. Since its move to the new space four years ago, the firm has continually made property improvements to keep up with their growing staff and capabilities.
Client partners include PayPal (California), EcoShell (California), Kasasa Financial (Texas), Whirlpool (Michigan), Stryker (Michigan), Amway (Michigan), PNC Bank (Pennsylvania), Fifth Third Bank (Ohio) and First Student (Ohio). Core segments of experience include financial products and services, consumer package goods, business-to-business, durables and health care.
In order to move their clients’ business forward, Pathfinders puts innovation first. Their proprietary archetypal branding process helps get to the heart of customer and consumer motivations. Other tools such as consumer benefit road mapping and post-purchase journey exploration help clients streamline their messaging and grow their business year over year.
“As an organization, our goal is to be the first partner our clients think of when a communication challenge or opportunity comes across their desk,” said Vicky Holland, president of Pathfinders Advertising.
Awarded “Best Places to Work” in Indiana two years in a row, Pathfinders supports the community through their engagement with Girls on the Run Michiana, Junior League, La Casa de Amistad, Center for the Homeless, South Bend Museum of Art,
St. Joseph County FOP and WNIT Public Television.
It’s a pretty simple concept. Communities that don’t grow, die.
Ours suffered through several decades where population growth lagged, and more people left each year than came in. That, of course, didn’t help your business—from a customer or an employee standpoint, as you sought to attract top talent.
The trajectory has changed over the past decade, and St. Joseph County has experienced slow and steady growth. In recent years, that growth has mostly been attributed to more people being born than people moving away or dying. Out-migration continues to be
While the overall growth has been positive, it still trails growth numbers in other major Indiana counties, and has been slower than many of the peer communities around the country that we like to compare to. To simplify, even though we’re growing, each day we fall further behind our competition.
We realize this needs to change, and the Chamber has set an ambitious goal of growing St. Joseph County to 300,000 people over the next decade. The Chamber intends to help drive progress toward that goal. 2019 has St. Joseph County population at approximately 271,000.
To achieve this goal, a number of things needs to fall in place. First, we must do all we can to retain the people we have—attract new people. Good paying jobs and key quality of place improvements will contribute to that. We need to convince young people to stay or come back. We need retirees to see the benefits of living here. We need immigrants to see this area as a good option for them. And, we need more students being educated here to stay here. A broad strategy will get us to where we need to be.
The Chamber and Visit South Bend Mishawaka serve as information resources for people seeking to visit or move to our area. In addition, both serve as the voice of the local community, and you’ll see an improved communication effort aimed at better telling our story. After visiting other communities, those communities are not better than ours, but many simply tell a better story.
You’ve told us your chief challenge is attracting top talent. Attracting that talent is a tag-team effort. You introduce prospective hires to an outstanding employment opportunity at your company, and we’ll introduce them to an outstanding community experience. We’ll work closely with your HR team or company leadership to best align efforts and provide you with the appropriate community information to help “seal the deal” when recruiting.
As part of this effort, our army of volunteers will be integrated more. For example, if you are trying to land a young professional to fill that key post, let us know. We’ll send a young professional volunteer your way to help your prospect better understand the community through a peer’s eyes. We are all in this together, and one at a time, as champions, we need to get more people here.
The job situation is still a critical component to attracting new people. Our economic development efforts will play a critical role, and the Chamber will team up with key partners across the region to make sure opportunities exist for those that want to come here. Similarly, our advocacy efforts will ensure key quality of place improvements happen in the region, the tax and business climate is welcoming, schools are improving, and other key elements like roads, trails, trains and planes add to the effort.
This population priority also closely aligns with the work our partners at the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership are doing. One of their five primary regional goals is transforming net domestic migration from -2.13 persons per 1,000 persons annually to a positive net domestic in-migration. In the region, population grew 2.16% between 2010 and 2018. In 2017-2018, that net domestic migration number fell to .8 persons per 1,000. The best way we can help obtain the regional goal is to make sure St. Joseph County is doing its part, and the Chamber will lead that effort.
2020 is an important year, and it's crucial we get off to a good start toward this goal. The 2020 Census should affirm population estimates seen in recent years and help us better project what the future looks like. Please, make sure you, your friends, neighbors and family get counted; a complete count is critical for the area.
Epoch, an 11-person architecture design firm located in South Bend, Indiana, has joined Shive-Hattery. The integration complements design capabilities for both firms and creates a stronger Indiana presence for Shive-Hattery.
Founded in 2012, Epoch will operate as Epoch, a Division of Shive-Hattery. Through the integration, client offerings will be enhanced with the ability to provide a full suite of in-house design services including architecture, engineering, interior design and landscape architecture.
“Both of our organizations value being a trusted part of our communities and have an unwavering focus on earning and keeping long-term relationships with clients,” said Jim Lee, Shive-Hattery President. “Epoch joining Shive-Hattery is an intentional step towards sustainable growth and demonstrates our commitment to providing comprehensive design solutions with the best talent.”
Epoch’s leadership and staff will continue with the firm for a seamless transition with no disruption to client relationships or projects, an important consideration for Epoch founder, Kyle Copelin.
“Creating the right client experience depends on having the right people in place. We have a solid foundation built upon our cultural fit with Shive-Hattery,” added Copelin. “We can now expand our reach to better serve clients and create new opportunities for our designers.”
Shive-Hattery’s addition of Epoch expands on the firm’s recent growth; earlier this year, Lincoln, Nebraska-based studio951 also joined with Shive-Hattery.
For more information about Epoch, visit epoch-design.com.