Andy started North Star Marketing in 2000, converting a corner of his parents’ basement into a makeshift office. The idea was simple: help organizations connect more effectively with qualified customers. Not much has changed since then. Yes, North Star has a few more people (who do not work from Andy’s parents’ basement), and the range of services has evolved substantially, but the “big idea” is still the same: to use our God-given creative talents to provide Marketing Leadership that creates value for our team, our clients, and our partners. Within the firm, Andy shapes the vision and strategy, advises on client engagements, and supports the team through coaching. In client-facing scenarios, Andy thrives in leading Message Workshops and meddling in strategy. Andy is also the Founder of Via, a web-based software platform that empowers marketing firms to develop and deploy strategy for their clients. When not tending to "work stuff,” Andy is usually hanging out with his remarkable wife and way-above-average kiddos...or cheering for Liverpool FC.
We actually have video footage of this guy staring at his screen without blinking for 6 hours. We posted it to YouTube, but it went viral and crashed their servers. The good news for North Star’s online marketing clients is he’s working on strategic planning for their accounts. With a strong background in direct marketing and lead generation, Clark’s considerable expertise enables him to speak to both traditional and inbound strategies. When he’s not knee-deep in Google Analytics, you can likely find Clark on the receiving end of round house kicks and knuckle sandwiches from his black-belt teenage daughter.
Kyle’s personality type is only seen in two percent of the population. We don’t find this shocking. When you read up on INTJs, they are described as imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious, but not known to squander energy. These are the rare pairings of qualities that make Kyle an exceptional marketing manager.
With backgrounds in graphic arts, IT, and strategic communication, Kyle has a knowledge base that is broad and deep. Before joining NSM, he worked in higher education leadership for 12 years. Today, he partners with organizations across many industries to find fundamental solutions and develop holistic marketing strategies. And when he’s got free time on his hands, he’s still making the most of it — whether working on his latest carpentry project or traveling with his wife. While there aren’t many of Kyle’s “type” in the world, we’re fortunate to have one on our team.
Rob is one of those rare people who is good at lots of things…like soccer, photography, theology, eating gummy worms, etc. He has a unique gift for envisioning a brand and, before it’s even been designed, seeing how it will be implemented on a website, a billboard, a direct mail piece, and a bumper sticker (or, for our clients in the Northeast, “bumpah stickah”). He’s also an inspiring soccer coach, an optimistic gardener, and a way above-average husband and father. Spend a day on a photo shoot with him, and you’ll see why North Star and our clients are blessed to have this guy on the team.
Have you ever seen a programmer sing karaoke? If so, it wasn’t Ryan. While he’s not necessarily the “out-in-front” kind of guy, he’s been doing an awful lot behind the scenes since 2002 to make the tech stuff happen when it’s showtime. His remarkable knowledge of web technologies is staggering. And he likes cats. And he married up. Now, isn’t that a lethal combination?
“Has anyone seen Micah?” We love it when Micah’s not at the office. Because it means he’s out working with current and prospective clients on new projects (and, contrary to popular speculation…NOT on the golf course). Chances are if you call North Star about a new project, you’ll speak with Micah along the way. Having worked with a wide range of clients on hundreds of projects, he does an excellent job guiding the engagement process through the scoping phase and into production. Micah also does a mean impersonation of Barney Fife. He frequently reminds us that his “whole body is a weapon,” and it’s illegal for him to put his hands in his pockets without a concealed carry permit. There it is.
Sarah is the epitome of the “duck on the water” analogy. Gliding across the water, it looks effortless. Just below the surface, however, the feet are paddling hard. That’s Sarah. She manages our operations and helps all of us swim more efficiently. Without her, we’d pretty much all pack up and go home. She’s also a mom with two remarkable children. In fact, we have already signed contracts for both of them to work at North Star when they grow up…and they’re not even out of elementary school yet.
This North Star project manager is one part philosopher (“It’s not the arrow, it’s the indian…”), one part amateur golfer (reference the golf shoes at the office and the weekend score card in the 70’s), one part aspiring photographer (note the ever-changing wallpaper on his Mac), one part neat-freak (you won’t find a paperclip out of place on his desk) and one part humorist (“How does he keep a straight face?”). There’s a lot going on here, which is what makes Tyler such a strong project manager. He moves from project to project, conversation to conversation with an easy-going style that works like a trusty seven iron.
Ask Kaleen anything about marketing in the education world, and you’re sure to get schooled. An enrollment director turned marketing manager, she’s been on both sides of the table, making her uniquely equipped to serve our independent school clients. Kaleen is a native of the west coast but enjoys finding temporary homes across the globe — Airbnb style. Her bucket list includes stops on every continent, and she’s managed to check off all but two! An adventurer at heart, you never know where you might find Kaleen. But just a warning, if you see her on a bike, get out of the way…FAST. She’s notorious for crashing through crowded areas like Central Park. Thankfully, when it comes to school marketing, she executes much smoother landings. From websites and blogs to social media and ad campaigns, Kaleen masters every possible avenue for connecting schools and families.
Laura Eisenga, one of North Star’s Education Marketing Managers, is a native and long-time resident of Sunnyside, Washington. So of course, she shines! Laura brings a wealth of experience in education enrollment, fundraising, and marketing to the table for our K-12 school clients.
Outside the office, she makes time for a fascinating list of personal interests: photography, coaching (volleyball and fastpitch softball), running a small business (embroidery), exploring the Pacific Northwest (and its growing reputation for remarkable wine), and, with her husband, Ben, raising 10-year old twins Addison and Ashton.
On and off the clock, Laura’s creative energy and gifts are helping good things grow, and we couldn’t be more delighted that she is a part of our team!
When it comes to crabcakes, what makes the difference between “Oh my!” and “meh?” We didn’t know either, which is one of the many reasons we needed to hire Sue Carback. It turns out she is not only a veteran educator, a former admissions director, an enrollment marketing innovator, a proud mom, a happy hiking partner with her husband in all kinds of wild and beautiful places, but also a native Marylander with a finely tuned shellfish palate. (It’s all about the lump backfin and Old Bay, y’all!) Along with our other education marketing managers, Sue is a huge part of the expertise we bring to the table for all our school partners.
Kyle currently holds the record for the tallest guy at North Star. But don’t let the “gentle giant” exterior fool you. Inside, he’s a branding grizzly, web design monster, a print powerhouse. Give him a kickoff meeting and a creative brief, and get out of the way. When he’s not manhandling a Mac, you’ll find Kyle and his wife hiking, paddling or camping…outdoorsy stuff. In fact, some days he even wears hiking boots to the office in anticipation of getting outdoors.
Bryan is our resident artist/theologian/botanist/philosopher/musician; however, his official title is creative strategist. Bryan connects front-end strategy to the creative process. In other words, he brings together the various team members contributing to a client’s campaign and makes sure they’re all rowing in the same direction. Bryan is a natural teacher at work and at home. In fact, he’s turned the creek running through his backyard into an outdoor classroom for his four children, with regular lessons in biology – including frogs, fish, and slithery snakes!
Every business needs a Matt. He’s the guy who can step into any design project and do what it takes to get it across the finish line. All you have to do is ask, and he’s on it. From website graphics to print file finishing to illustration (and even sculpture), Matt’s unique skill set helps our projects move forward. And, if you happen to speak Urdu, (Pakistan’s national language), dial his extension and strike up a conversation.
Six Degrees of North Star might describe how Jordan Buckhalt, graphic designer, landed at our firm. During a family beach vacation, Jordan heard about North Star from his brother-in-law’s older brother, who happens to be designer Bryan Ickes. Five years later, when North Star needed to grow our design team, Jordan was ready for a job.
Jordan is personally responsible for thousands of hours of lost study time at Liberty University, where, previously, his captivating designs caused students to crave food items from a wide variety of campus dining options. Today, his design expertise draws audiences to our clients through ads, direct mail, websites, and more.
Jordan and his wife love adventures and even spent a year teaching children in Santiago, Chile. He’s also fascinated with photographing abandoned buildings and plays a mean game of ping pong.
Le monde est un livre dont chaque pas nous ouvre une page. For those of us who aren’t French speakers, Seth can translate: “The world is a book whose every step opens a page.” From studying languages to having lived all over the map, Seth is energized by challenge and change. This is great, because in the marketing world, things rarely stay the same for long. After working in the nonprofit sector for several years, Seth mastered the art of using the resources available to him and producing amazing things. He joined North Star to help us further develop our video services, and to help our clients maximize their reach through creative marketing. When he’s not behind the camera, editing, or supporting ongoing campaigns, you can find him spending time with his wife and baby girl, playing music, or teaching himself something new. Because in his eyes, “Un jour où rien n’est appris est un jour gaspillé” (a day where nothing is learned is a day wasted).
Tanner is the youngest member of the North Star Marketing team, yet he has the skills of a seasoned player. A recent graduate of Asbury University in Kentucky, he helps the programming team keep the ball moving on a variety of projects. “I love developing because it’s all about problem-solving,” he says. “It’s logical.” (Which makes sense.)
When he’s not working on North Star web projects, you can likely find Tanner in a fierce office ping pong match, researching coffee brewing, or tending to Stuart, his bonsai tree.
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain
As many of our clients know, writing that is easy to read is anything but easy to write. That’s where Lois comes in. She learns our clients, their offerings, and their industries and writes compelling content that connects with their audiences. Lois came to North Star Marketing from the healthcare industry and has an extensive background in public relations. Regardless of the medium – a blog post, website navigation map, landing page, press release, mailer, or billboard – she balances logic and emotion, creativity and precision to deliver ideas clearly and effectively.
At the end of the day, Lois breaks away from her thesaurus and AP Stylebook for kickboxing classes, cooking with her family and long walks with an adorable black lab.
“Well, I decided to pursue a career indoors because it’s just too hot to be outside in Phoenix during the summer,” says Lee Fowks, NSM Paid Search Manager.
Okay, there’s more to the story than that.
Lee is uniquely suited to manage paid search campaigns. He’s a math guy with psychology training, a wordsmith with a technical mind. It’s this collaboration between the left side of his brain and the right side that’s just…well, that’s where the magic happens.
When he’s not engineering paid search campaigns, you’ll likely find Lee and his wife playing with their two children in the park, at the batting cages, or on the beach in San Diego. He coaches his son’s baseball team (the New York Yankees…of Phoenix) and is an avid runner, even in 100+ degree weather (which, oddly enough, is done mostly outdoors)…
Building computers, tinkering on various projects, honing his coding chops — Michael loves to learn, and he stays curious about how things work. Those are just a couple reasons he’s an excellent fit for meeting the support and training needs in our development team. We love the way Michael loves to help others learn and see the lightbulb come on for them with a problem they are facing. It’s also great to see the way he puts his friends and family first. Michael and his wife Gentry are raising three amazing children and a little menagerie of fur ball pets.
Perhaps it’s the orderly stacks of papers and folders on her desk, seated at attention like members of an orchestra. Or maybe it’s the P90-X workout she demands of the printer on a daily basis. It could be her Google-like ability to find anything you need in a matter of seconds. Or maybe you could tell by the cello leaning against the wall in her office, patiently awaiting lessons at the end of the day.
Regardless of how you piece it together, you don’t have to be around Misha Frazier for long to know that she is the uber-bookkeeper. Numbers make her happy. She loves general ledger. All is right in Misha’s world when every penny is posted, every receipt is wrangled and every report is reconciled.
And best of all, for a lady who adores order and precision, Misha has the patience of Job when working with the “creative types” at North Star. (Is that Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G emanating from her office?)
A native of Connecticut, Michael’s love of travel took him to Taiwan, India, and Pakistan before landing in the Carolinas, where he met his wife, Amy. Michael is also a foodie. “Making a dish is a like coding,” he says. “There’s more than one way to do a thing, but some ways are definitely better than others.” On weekends, the Cruzes love cooking for friends and playing with their young daughter. Michael may even find time to squeeze in a game of disc golf.
At North Star, Michael is focused on developing and optimizing internal systems to keep our clients’ marketing plans and projects running smoothly. “I love this stuff,” Michael says. “The code we develop at North Star is good enough to eat.”
Behind every effective marketing plan is a great strategy, and behind every great strategy is a skilled strategist. Over his career, Jeff has worked with organizations across many different industries — from Fortune 500s to small businesses and startups. But it’s more than experience that drives his success. Jeff’s personality makes him uniquely equipped to help North Star’s clients. He’s passionate – both about people and seeing the businesses they operate thrive. He’s results-oriented, which means nothing makes him giddier than showing clients how their investment translated to engagement. He’s not afraid to adapt or learn something new. And he’s patient, which is a good thing, because he’s got six kids…a real life Brady Bunch (minus Alice). When not plotting marketing strategy, he and his wife are planning fun family adventures, including hiking, traveling, and sports. Jeff draws inspiration from many sources, including the larger-than-life Michael Jordan cutout by his desk. In the words of the basketball legend himself, “If you put in the work, the results will come.”