May 22, 2017
CCGX25 Backstage Pass: Roxy
Roxzanne has over two decades of industry experience, which has opened doors to long-lasting relationships with clients and vendors alike. Her ability to complete tasks efficiently and effectively ensures that our clients receive the best rate for their budget. When she isn’t keeping creative teams on track with production schedules, she’s organizing or participating in mountain bike races across the country.
JACK: How long have you been at CCG?
ROXZANNE: Over 22 years.
J: How did you end up at CCG?
R: My first job out of college was with a company called Koala-Tee Custom Sportswear. A t-shirt, screen-printing shop basically. I had been there for 4 years when one of their designers left and started his own company. At that point, it was called Nvision Design, and they started working for Fred in the same building, sharing the rent. And Jeff (Reiner) recommended me when Fred said he was looking for an office manager. And actually, I was sending out resumes to move to Chicago and break into the advertising agency world there, and this fell in my lap. I said, “Eh, you know I’ll work here for a couple of years. It’ll look good on my resume when I go to a bigger agency.” Yeah, still here. CCG had everything I would’ve wanted. So yeah, second job out of college.
J: As the VP of Graphic Services, what’s a normal day like for you at work?
R: Normal… well, about the only thing I do on a consistent basis is grab coffee with the peeps in the morning. After that, it’s kind of a moving target. It’s a lot of looking over the schedule and seeing what’s happening in all of the areas we’re working in, and then starting to answer the questions. It’s a lot like a machine and I’m tweaking the dial here, tweaking the dial there. Everyone is pretty much self-managed, but a lot of times stuff comes in the door and we have to figure out how to squish it into everything else we’re doing. So that’s where I come in on the management and scheduling side. Then there’s estimating, hiring vendors, budgeting, solving problems for print projects. No day is the same.
J: What’s one thing people don’t know about your job?
R: Probably that I’ve been doing it for this long. It’s pretty rare that somebody is at a job this long, let alone if it’s only the first or second job out of school. That, and maybe they don’t know the way the jobs come in. The flow of the agency is something that I started and have always overseen to make sure everything runs well.
J: Fred and Melanie credit you, among several others, for the integration of new technology here over the years – talk a little about how you stay up to speed on industry trends.
R: That’s an interesting question because I don’t really think of myself as someone who is ultra tech-savvy. When I started here, it was pre-internet. Computers didn’t talk to each other. The only thing it talked to was a printer, so I’ve been here throughout the evolution of technology in the company. When I first started I was the Office Manager and there was no infrastructure whatsoever. So over the years, I’ve had to figure out what each iteration of computers have been needed, what printers have been needed, how to create a network so computers talk to all the printers. But really it’s working with the same mac technicians, who have been with us since the beginning. They built our network, they built our servers, they built our archiving system, so it’s relying on smart people in those industries and using their recommendations to determine the best way to go about making additions and changes, and making sure that it fits in our operating budget, and that it’s the right time to do it. Since I have done that from inception, I’m the one that has to make sure that everything continues to work. So when there’s an email problem, when Cox Cable would go down, the phone service goes down – guess who’s the one in charge of getting it all fixed? Having reliable vendors has been the key to keeping everything running top notch.
J: What are some pros and cons of managing the production-side of a creative department?
R: The creative side of an agency is really fun. The cool thing about it from my perspective, the project and production management angle, is I get to have a hand in a lot of different areas. Being around creative people in itself is inspirational, even if I’m not part of the project. I get to listen and see the evolution of the job and see it come to life. That’s really cool. That’s what keeps me coming back here. I’m always engaged in the creative process in some way. There is a data-driven side of our agency, and that’s not me at all whatsoever. I am interested in the flashy, sexy, sparkly ideas – all that stuff is exciting to me and that’s what’s fun to be around. Being part of the process, doing research, plugging in where I can with the designer is my jam. Like researching and finding the solution for a unique mailing or unique way something folds or figuring out how to make something like an award or some kind of environmental installation. I get to figure it out, and its fun to try and seek out those solutions and then actually be like, “wow, I did it – sweet!” As for cons, there aren’t many. Probably the hardest one is to reel in all the creative ideas. To make sure we’re staying in the budget and not going off the rails on an idea. But there’s not really a lot of cons on the creative side.
J: What are some pros and cons of working at a small agency?
R: The family-like atmosphere is a plus. We also get a lot of anonymity. The bosses hire us for what our expertise is and let us run with it. They give us lot of trust. In a small environment, that’s huge. You get to know everybody you work with and you’re vested in them as well. They become friends. Most of the creatives and others that have been here and gone, I’m still in contact with. The friendships established here stay intact after they leave. And when you work with your friends, you’re vested in their success as well, and that overrides everything. I think that’s really important as to why we have been successful for as long as we have. Because as a group, we care about each other and we care about each other’s success. I think that is clear in the work that we put out. But managing your friends is difficult. I’ve been with my creative director for over 15 years and we hang out from time to time but when we get in the door, it’s work time and you have to manage your friends and put on a professional face and walk that line in a professional way. Business is business – leave all the other stuff at the door.
J: How does CCG foster a strong work-life balance?
R: Fred and Mel are proponents of having a life outside of the agency. They expect us to kick ass and take names for 8 hours, then go out and have a life. I think they feel having an enriched life outside of work makes for better, happier employees. I honestly believe that’s one of the reasons for our success and longevity.
J: Let’s talk about some favorite memories at CCG that you’ll never forget.
R: When Fred turned 40, the staff at the time was only about five people. And we did a spoof video. And one of the designers we used could do Fred’s mannerisms spot on; how he takes his glasses off and rubs his hair and does this (pinches brow). So we did this video where we pretended a client came in the door and “Fred” was giving him a tour of the agency. It was maybe the first year we had Internet, and the designers we used then were only a couple blocks away and we could talk to them via an ISDN link. Anyway, Fred was famous for talking up our, ahem, technology. And so (laughs)… he would boast to people, showing them our ONE computer with Internet and he’s say “Oh, we don’t have any designers here, but they’re just a couple blocks away and we talk to them via an ISDN link.” So we did this great spoof video and totally roasted him during his 40th birthday party. It’s one of my favorite memories.