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Counselor is published 13 times a year and is
the "voice" of the promotional products industry.

2013 Counselor Road Tour

Collaboration And Creativity In Portland

Lots To Admire In This Fun, Highly Collaborative Environment

CMDIt may be a Sunday afternoon when the Road Tour crew members pull their weary selves into Portland, OR (hey, we were just in Pittsburgh and Columbus and St. Louis and Dallas, and... they all kind of blur into each other after several consecutive days on the road), but we are quickly energized by the creative environment of CMD. Not your traditional advertising specialty company, CMD is built to be an integrated marketing agency and it takes its integrated nature very seriously. "We offer print, digital, promotions, film, video, events, and much more, as a full-service marketing agency," says Phil Reilly, president of CMD, which records about $50 million a year in revenues, of which promotional marketing accounts for about 20%. "We want to be collaborative and consultative with clients, so we can offer high-level services."

CMDAnd, to do that, CMD operates in its own highly-collaborative environment. While the company has about 150 employees in its Portland space, it houses 11 conference rooms (all named after board games like Battleship, Clue, Pictionary, and Cranium). That means there's one conference room for every 13 employees. Quite the ratio. Also, staffers work in open-air areas to foster collaboration, and each employee operates on a laptop so they're able to get up with their computer at any time and bring it to a conference room or somebody else's workspace. "We do a lot of sharing here," says Jeff Zabel, managing director of CMD's promotional marketing division. "We really brainstorm ideas for clients, and work with each other all the time to come up with creative solutions. It's a true team atmosphere."

It's also a fun atmosphere where employees gather frequently outside of the office. There are company sponsored softball games, bowling outings, charity drives, beer tastings, and soccer games. "We always have a lot of fun," says Reilly. "We want to give people a place where they feel comfortable in the office. Some of that is created by being together outside of the office."

CMDPart of the comfortable environment is also created by the fact that CMD, which has a decidedly dress-down culture, is incredibly welcoming to its employees' children. Every year on Halloween, the office turns into every child's trick-or-treating dream. From 3:30 to 5:30 on Halloween, every employee's child can come to the office for pumpkin carving, face painting, costume competitions, and yes, trick-or-treating at every workspace in the whole place. "I always bring my kids," says Heather Comerford, who's in charge of sales for CMD's promotional division and who joined us in the office on Sunday afternoon. "They love it. It's easier than going house to house to get all that candy."

Employees of CMD can also bring their children to the office when they're working extra hours on the weekend – and it's not like going to most parents' offices. The kids can watch the many TVs in the office, play X-Box, and test the latest video game on the market (ah, the benefits of working in the Pacific Northwest, gaming capital of the USA). "You know, we just want our employees to be happy, so we do a lot of things that we think they'll like," Reilly says of CMD, which also pays for gym memberships for its employees and provides locker rooms so the company's many runners and bikers can shower and change during the day. "We work hard, but we can have fun and make it laid-back and comfortable while we're doing it, right?" No doubt.

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