2016 Year in Review

Think what you will of 2016. We can at least agree that the year was exciting and unpredictable, that change was in the air, and that new challenges and opportunities knocked on everyone’s doors. At Firewood, the year brought new people, new projects, new clients, and growth like we’ve never experienced before. It went by fast. As we look ahead to 2017, we’d like to take a minute to highlight our professional and personal milestones. Here’s to everyone who helped make our 2016 a success!

We reached 100 people!

On January 1, 2016, there were 54 of us. Early in November, we welcomed our 100th employee. Even before we reached that number, we had already made #15 on San Francisco Business Times List of Top 25 Agencies in the Bay Area. We closed the year at 108 employees. We expected to grow. But did anyone anticipate that we would double our numbers? A host of new new faces and personalities are now adding spice, flavor, and insane quantities of talent to our team. Our saddest note this year also came in this area with the loss of Cathleen Nilles, featured in last month’s blog. In January, a new crop of naturally born Firewoodians will join us. No matter how our numbers multiply, our aim will remain to retain our family feeling.

We moved, again.

Exactly a year after our move to Post Street, we had to find ourselves new digs—on Grant Avenue this time—because we were bursting at the seams. An easy prediction: our 2017 Year in Review blog will also feature a move, an expansion, or both.

We threw yet another fantastic holiday party.

Every year we dress up, put on our dancing shoes, and celebrate our accomplishments with a fabulous party. This year, we went to Bimbo’s. It was more than fabulous. It was swanky. After the gourmet meal and before the swinging tunes, we also spent a little time highlighting the worthy charitable organizations selected to receive a total of $50,000 in donations from Firewood. Fun, friends, community, and music. The night was swell.

The Honor Roll.

Many of our people received well-deserved promotions. Here is the list, in no particular order: Joel Fossourier, promoted to Senior Digital Marketing Manager; Patrice Thomas, to Senior Events Manager; Courtney Wright, to Senior Copywriter; Jesse Ratner, to Associate Creative Director; Akasha Hodge, to Associate Creative Director; Nino Medina, to Senior Digital Marketing Manager; Madison Thompson, to Events Manager; Kris Belau, to Director of Digital Marketing Strategy; Zach Rudolph, to Operations Manager; Jessica Wehage (formerly Szeto), to Program Director; Henry Cardenas, to Senior Digital Marketing Manager; Elmer Ayala, to Director of Digital Marketing; Margaux DeRoux, to Director of Content Strategy; Paul Zlatunich, to Associate Director of Digital Marketing; Matty Freeman-Richards, to Director of Engagement Marketing; Kevin deKruif, to Associate Director of Digital Marketing; Sarah Eden, to Senior Marketing Analyst; Meagan Bradshaw, to Associate Account Director; and finally, Theresa Ronquillo, to Director of Operations. Nicely done, everyone! Recognizing performance and encouraging advancement in career paths is an essential component of our DNA.

We did a lot of team building.

We work hard. We play hard. Our teams have gone out on “taste tours” of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, or engaged in competitive street scavenger hunts. We’ve attended cooking classes, tasted Sonoma wine, went to the ball game, or played at Dave and Buster’s. Every month we get together for a happy hour. And all because we like to play, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company.

And we managed to fit in some really great work.

We brainstormed, we concepted, we created, and ultimately we ended up with some work we’re pretty proud of. Throughout 2016 we built more customer journeys, supported the #transvoices movement with a fun motion graphics video, celebrated the holidays with emails for the madeby.google.com team, gave the public a front-row seat to the World Series through Twitter using machine learning, helped Google throw a ton of educational events for businesses, and squeezed GIFs into every corner of the Internet.

In 2017 we’re excited to get our hands dirty producing new product video spots for our clients, helping put butts in seats for Google Cloud’s yearly NEXT event, getting more businesses to advertise on YouTube, and so much more creative work that makes us so happy to do what we do.

Expanding to Sandpoint, Idaho.

Did you know that Sandpoint has the only marketplace on a bridge in the United States? Even more shocking than that, Sandpoint is the other city in the US, after San Francisco, where Firewood has opened an office. Loni Knepper, our CFO, and Judy Perry, our HR and Payroll Associate, are the lucky ones who get to work from this gorgeous place. The rest of us are just hoping the next off-site is there.

Some had babies. Some tied the knot.

In August, Shareen Lal welcomed beautiful Asha to this world and Al Pontes welcomed the lovely Madeleine. Nathan White followed right behind with Astrid in September, another super-cute girl. Congratulations, happy parents! Jill Everett said “I Do” and became Jill Mattis. Akasha Hodge married in May (he’s the one with the donkey, winning the prize for most original wedding picture of the year). Kris Belau married in January. Brian Verbaken married in July. DJ Carey did it in June, and celebrated his nuptials with a huge, fabulous soiree. We can’t deny it—we are family-oriented people.

To close it up, a nice roundup of the great, fun, inspired, extraordinary things we do.

Our “biddables” team members dress as meerkats, play in a soccer league, and exchange holiday presents with a “white elephant” game. Matty Klemanski goes fly-fishing. Tom Schwartz donates time for Pacific Links Foundation. Sarah Eden volunteers at Family House, SF, and Margaux DeRoux is involved with International Rescue Committee. Shareen Lal saw the northern lights this year. Akasha Hodge visited a city called Antananarivo (say that ten times fast!). Judah Nagler and Rob Marsh played shows in their respective bands all across the city. We biked the bay, skied, ran, and ultimately celebrated our lives within the Firewood family and outside of it.