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Stop 5: Bluegrass Promotional Marketing
Charlotte, NC

Three hours of road time – and some very full bellies of fried chicken – later, we are welcomed to Bluegrass Promotional Marketing (asi/141964), in Charlotte, where it becomes clear immediately that this place is full of, shall we say, “characters.” One guy, Jim Grainger, a seasoned account executive, proclaims he can hum fight songs from all major universities. Indeed, he begins following Melinda around humming (or, more accurately, imitating a trumpet while buzzing his lips together in an unnatural way) the Maryland Terrapins fight song. (He’s at a loss, however, when Andy and Joe tell him they attended Vassar and Lock Haven, respectively. Apparently he hasn’t mastered any schools beyond the ACC.)

Account executive Gentry Harrington, a sales superstar who is a past winner of Advantages magazine’s Sales Rep of the Year award, is engaged in a contentious game of cornhole with an IT staffer. And Mark Hansen, sales support manager, is in the company’s kitchen, designed like a diner, whipping up toasted almonds for Andy and Joe. As other staffers hear him fire up the blender, they come running in, cups in hand. Bluegrass’ CEO, Fred Parker, is out spending the day with board members, but he is even represented at this little party: His photo is blown up on his chair, and a message to Andy promises more advertising dollars for Counselor magazine.

To be fair, antics like this aren’t always part of a Bluegrass afternoon: The group is letting off some steam after a pretty intensive board meeting this morning, according to Sharon Dailey, who heads up HR, among other things. That, and the fact that they just witnessed the exciting U.S.-France women’s World Cup game in the kitchen, which ended in victory for the U.S. women.

Hey, those are two rather exciting events for one day. Whatever makes these guys and gals roll, the mix of personalities and the injection of fun have resulted in some serious growth at the company over the past several years – more than 40% since 2007. Parker’s motto is “Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it; plan more than you can do, then do it,” and it’s clear that this culture is full of creative, can-do people.

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