We’re happy to announce Anvil celebrates 20 years in business in October 2020! To commemorate the achievement, we talked with President and Founder, Kent Lewis and Vice President, Mike Terry about their starts with Anvil, the digital marketing agency’s growth, and where they see Anvil heading in its next 20 great years.
How did Anvil Media get started?
Anvil was started when Lewis went into survival mode. After he parted ways with the founder and majority shareholder of an agency he co-founded 18 months earlier, Lewis realized he still needed to support himself. A week after his termination, he invested $2K in a laptop and started his own business: Anvil Media, named after an ezine he created and managed for the previous four years.
After 13 years of growth, success and a few struggles, Lewis reached out to Mike Terry to help reinvent Anvil. Terry and Lewis had worked together previously at an agency in 2001 and were kindred spirits. Even after Lewis was let go, he and Terry stayed in touch. So, it’s no surprise that Terry’s start with the company came in the form of an immediate job offer over lunch and laughs. Anvil wouldn’t be where it is today without him.
Lessons Learned in 20 Years
After 20 years in business, Lewis and Terry have learned a thing or two. When asked what lessons have proved most valuable to them over the years, Lewis and Terry both had helpful insights for business owners and their executive teams who also hope to someday celebrate 20 years in business.
Lewis has found that “unlearning the entrepreneur myth” has been the most valuable to him as our Founder. “It’s not enough to just work on the business, you have to work in the business.” Lewis prides himself on being a leader who does the work with the team and ensures our success.
For Terry, the most valuable insight he’s gleaned from working at Anvil, and within the marketing industry as a whole, is that “Change is constant. You have to be flexible.” While this is a lesson we’re all learning in 2020, Terry has been adapting for years, specifically with the Anvil hiring process. As Anvil’s recruiting manager, he has had to refine our hiring process repeatedly to find the best talent for our team and we’re a better team for it.
The Keys to Building Strong Business Relationships
A company doesn’t make it to 20 years without strong client relationships and referrals. Lewis and Terry have nurtured theirs with responsiveness and authenticity. We asked how Lewis managed his partnerships for two decades. “I’m OCD. I’m obsessively responsive,” he remarked with a laugh. Terry added that, in addition to quick responses, being your genuine self with clients strengthens relationships. “I tell our clients what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. I provide examples for why we recommend or don’t recommend that strategy and my experience has built trust.” And he doesn’t only rely on his experience, he also shows his clients genuine interest in how they’re doing and what’s happening in their business or personal lives. At Anvil, we understand our partnerships are true partnerships, and they’re relationships that need to be consistently tended to.
Highlights and Lowlights
Anvil has had its fair share of challenges, joys, highs, and lows; Lewis and Terry have seen Anvil through many together. Both agreed their lowlight was 2016, a tough year for the company financially, but each had a distinctive highlight to share.
For Lewis, his highlight has nothing to do with prestigious industry awards, increased annual revenue, or meeting his digital marketing hero (Seth Godin). The highlight for Lewis at Anvil was the day he saw that Anvil was rated one of the Best Places to Work in Oregon by Oregon Business Magazine in 2018, an award only given with enough praise from employees. Knowing his employees are happy and love coming to work every day made his day.
Terry’s highlight comes a little more recently, after seeing our 2020 performance so far in a year that has not been kind to businesses. “We’ve endured so much and to see we still have such a motivated team, that’s my highlight. You know, in 2001 when Kent and I were working for that previous agency after 9/11, everything stopped. But not this year at Anvil. We pivoted and kept going.”
The Future of Anvil
Like any business owner, Lewis has hopes and dreams for where our small but mighty company is going. When asked what’s in store for Anvil, Lewis responded, “I still have the same evolving vision for Anvil that I’ve had for years and that is that I hope to grow into more of a business consultancy specializing in digital marketing . And I want [my team] to grow into partner roles within the agency over time.” We asked what he meant by that and he likened it to a salon employee earning their own chair and starting their own book of business, acting as business owner rather than just a beautician. His hopes for Anvil revolve more admirably around his team rather than opening more locations and growing from a cozy, personable agency to a large corporation. Likewise, Terry’s dreams for Anvil are people-focused and mimic Lewis’s desires for a consultant agency. “I want to be able to continue to solve client’s problems, to continue to grow accounts and provide value.” He discussed a list of digital marketing trends, such as Voice Search and AI, that we provide services to assist with that may scare a lot of companies, as they may not understand the technology yet. Terry wants Anvil to continue to grow as a resource to help our clients with these digital trends and more.
Here’s to the next 20 years! We thank our team and our partnerships for helping us get here and we look forward to celebrating many more milestones with you all. If you have any questions or would like to work with our industry experts, contact Anvil here.