Leadership Team

Chuck Hengel

Chuck Hengel, Founder & Chief Executive Officer

How does a self-proclaimed introvert, who's more comfortable on a bass boat than at a podium, inspire an organization to run full steam towards what’s next to come? The answer is "Chuck."

Performance marketing is filled with eclectic entrepreneurs. So when it came to choosing a living, a younger Chuck Hengel became captivated by this renegade industry of inventors and madmen. With a brain for numbers, Chuck cut his teeth crunching numbers at one of the country’s largest performance marketers. He soon became the youngest partner at the nation’s premier print agency, Novus Print Media.

But entrepreneurs hang shingles. So in 1997, Chuck founded Marketing Architects. He drew the name out of a hat, but stuck with it because architects, like entrepreneurs, are all about building. His vision was a company by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. And his little lemonade stand transformed into one of the fastest growing marketing firms in Minneapolis.

Today Marketing Architects serves disruptive brands, from established juggernauts to ground-breaking entrepreneurs ready to become famous.

Incredibly, Chuck still finds time for what’s truly important in life. His wife Cindy. His beautiful kids. And, of course, bass fishing.

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Brent Longval

Brent Longval, Chief Financial Officer

Brent’s no ordinary spreadsheet-thirsty numbers guy. He’s a strategic thought leader. And a charismatic one to boot.

It all began on a basketball court. His father said, "To be successful on the pine floor, you have to take things one week at a time and success will come." Father knew best because Brent went on to lead the University of St. Thomas to its first Final Four appearance and is one of only a handful of players inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.

And that was just the start of his winning streak. During his early career at Arthur Anderson, Pillsbury and Agiliti, he showed the same passion for the balance sheet as he did on the court. In 2002, Brent joined a little company on the rise called Marketing Architects. He was quickly instrumental in establishing vital financial systems during the company’s early years. But with Brent’s strategic vision and contagious attitude, he spends any given day influencing the organization’s direction and growth and helping to pen the blueprint for what’s next at Marketing Architects.

How does Brent play so many roles, including his most important as family man to his wife Lesley and two terrific kids? He follows his dad’s timeless advice and takes it one week at a time.

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Angela Voss

Angela Voss, Chief Client Officer

When most people are faced with a challenge, they run as fast as they can the other way, Scooby-Doo style. Angela, on the other hand, races full speed toward it.

Angela’s definitely someone you want in your court...which is why Marketing Architects is happy to have her here. She’s spent nearly a decade crafting meticulous campaign strategies that have delivered extraordinary ROI for our clients. Her in-depth TV marketing knowledge has not only helped her team overcome industry challenges, but also driven record-breaking profit. For Angela, it’s just another day.

Where did she learn to welcome challenge and demand success? Angela’s college basketball career has a lot to do with it. On the court she learned the true meaning of perseverance. When you pair that with her unflinching focus and dogged desire to succeed, it’s easy to understand why she’s good at what she does.

While it’s no secret that Angela’s a fearless leader, not everyone knows she’s also a kid at heart. A day with her three daughters spent playing with rainbow hair chalk, glitter tattoos and dress-up clothes is a day well spent in Angela’s book.

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Stephanie Leapaldt

Stephanie Leapaldt, VP Client Growth

Why does Stephanie love so many sports? Because golf, lacrosse, softball, football, and hockey all have something in common: the thrill of competition. That passion has been the driver behind a career packed with client wins and building winning teams.

But let’s back up. While other kids went to Disneyland, Stephanie’s parents took her to the Dominican Republic where she learned Latin dance. Before long, she was dancing competitively (and winning ferociously). Her secret? Finding the magical balance between following tradition and breaking the rules.

She brings that same passion and competitive spirit to her clients. She learns the ins and outs of their industry. Then she strategizes ways to be a relentlessly disruptive marketer.

Turns out her winning formula also works for cultivating the next generation of talent. At Bolin Marketing, Mirum, and Space 150, Stephanie developed successful teams by finding smart people, giving them the tools to succeed, and challenging them to innovate unexpected solutions.

When Stephanie isn’t turning emerging brands into household names, she’s still passionate about sports. But now they take a backseat to being a busy wife and mother of two adorable children plus a Chihuahua.

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Marin Suska

Marin Suska, VP Client Growth

In 2004, Marin teamed up with Paul Jackson, our Chief Media Officer, to build the largest network of radio stations in the country.

They started by throwing out every conventional business development blueprint. They traveled from coast to coast to meet the owners of radio stations and had open conversations about the biggest problems they faced. As they knocked on doors and made connections, Marin discovered that when you build relationships by solving problems, you can succeed anywhere.

So she took her unique approach to problem-solving on the road, leaving Marketing Architects® to work in the heart of Silicon Valley. She helped build an interactive rocket demo for Elon Musk. Then she went on to Asia Pacific to build a unique user interface. And on her way back to Minneapolis, she stopped in Paris, London, and Berlin to build payment processors for each culture and currency.

Before returning to Marketing Architects to help our clients overcome the biggest challenges they face, she solved problems for Microsoft, Digital River, Nerdery, Haworth, and Target. Now’s she’s home sweet home in Minneapolis with her husband Brock, three kids, and a really big dog.

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Rob DeMars

Rob DeMars, Chief Creative Officer

Rob was an awkward kid. He did magic tricks and watched enough episodes of Knight Rider to earn him a trip to the family therapist. Enough said.

It was clear at an early age that Rob was destined for either a career super-sizing value meals or being a creative executive in advertising. During college, he received national recognition working as a copywriter for the Minnesota Daily. His next stop was the largest advertising agency in Minneapolis, Campbell Mithun. His work with iconic brands like General Mills, Hostess, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, and Hefty earned him the youngest vice presidency in the company’s history.

The big move. In 2004, Rob was approached to join a company called Marketing Architects. After informing the recruiter he wasn’t an architect, he discovered that this growing agency was looking to build a creative department. Rob accepted the challenge and went on to build an eclectic team of creatives who were equal parts artist and scientist.

At home, Rob enjoys performing card tricks for his wife and kids, and, of course, watching reruns of Knight Rider.

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Eric Pilhofer

Eric Pilhofer, VP Creative

To describe Eric without using the word “creative” would be like singing a song without the melody. The son of a popular jazz musician, it was natural for Eric to start his eclectic career as a music producer at Sound80, a Minneapolis-based audio studio that produced the first digital recording, ever.

An artist and entrepreneur. From there, he opened his own business, penning original music and sound scores. After working with brands like Audi, Lee Jeans and Coke throughout the 1990s, Eric decided it was time to channel his creativity into another form. That’s when his art studio, Pilhoferwerks, was born. For the last two decades, he’s been crafting inspiring ceramic sculptures.

Then he brought his artful eye to Marketing Architects. He’s molded his role into something that highlights the very best of his skills. First, he built the bones of a revolutionary audio department. Then he did the same for TV production.

Nowadays, you’ll find Eric steering the production of every TV commercial we produce. And you can bet it doesn’t leave his office until it absolutely sings. When he leaves the office, you’ll probably see Eric pedaling around Minnetonka, peacefully contemplating the Next Big Thing.

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Ryan Kinkaid

Ryan Kinkaid, VP Creative

As a child, Ryan discovered his dad’s vintage copies of National Geographic. It sparked a curiosity for exotic cultures. To fan the flames, his parents wallpapered his room with maps from around the world. It wasn’t long before they found him planning imaginary expeditions across his walls.

As he got older, he fed that curiosity by studying in Germany, joining the Peace Corps in Armenia and connecting with locals in places like Transylvania, Bogota, Haiti and Istanbul. Along the way, he discovered two passions: making genuine connections with people wherever he went and developing captivating stories to share the experiences.

From nomad to creating ads. Turns out that being a good storyteller, with a world-class photographer’s eye, comes in handy when you’re crafting disruptive creative. That’s how Ryan found a voice that resonates for virtually every product category and helped develop the creative team at Marketing Architects.

When he isn’t in the office, Ryan and his wife can be found somewhere on planet Earth. Whether they’re backpacking the remote Icelandic Westfjords or exploring slot canyons in Utah, you can count on him for a good story.

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Ben Fruehauf

Ben Fruehauf, VP Creative

Everything Ben needed to know, he learned riding a motorcycle. Having nothing between you and asphalt but two wheels and a roaring engine changes your world view. Whether he’s dragging knees around the race track or carving canyons amid bad drivers and semi trucks, Ben finds clarity, peace and hyper focus.

Turns out that this clutter-cutting concentration is also the key to crafting world-class creative. Ben turned a tired potato chip campaign into a 40-million-dollar new business win, taking him from a small ad office in Chicago to the big leagues at BBDO NY.

Ben’s love for the open road has taken him to every corner of the country. He’s held key leadership positions at Campbell Mithun and Cuneo in Minneapolis and at Civilian in San Diego. Riding through big cities and small towns in every state has helped him find his voice – one that’s able to connect with the wide range of consumers in this country.

The opportunity at Marketing Architects, and the quality of life in the Midwest, reminded Ben why Minnesota is a great place to call home. But despite the cold, he’s never giving up his motorcycles. Because despite the occasional chaos, you never see a motorcycle parked in front of a therapist’s office.

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Paul Jackson

Paul Jackson, Chief Media Officer

Meet employee number two.

Risk taker. Ski bum. Rock climber. Fatherhood. Paul has never shied away from the rush of adrenaline, so becoming a Denver disc jockey in college was a perfect fit for this thrill seeker. His voice and wit served him well as on-air talent, producer and editor for more than 30 mid-to-major markets.

Then came a call from Chuck that changed his life: an invitation to build the nation’s largest network of highly responsive radio inventory at rates nobody else could touch. Paul headed to Minneapolis and invented a platform that helped radio stations create additional revenue in ways they’d never seen. Today his team has generated well over 800 billion radio impressions and climbing.

In 2008, Jackson’s robust team of media black belts set their sights on doing for TV what they did for radio. In a few short years they’ve built the most powerful AI platform in the TV advertising industry with unparalleled access to national cable, local broadcast, national network, syndication, spot cable and satellite.

Most days Paul leaves his motorcycle in storage. Between his time at Marketing Architects and raising his young daughter with his wife Reena, Paul is getting all the adventure he needs.

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Catherine Dettloff

Catherine Dettloff, VP MA Media

When Catherine was 5 years old, her parents strapped a pair of wooden water skis to her feet and fired up the family’s old Sea Ray. She’s been addicted to adrenaline and adventure ever since.

After trick skiing, racing around in speed boats, rappelling off cliffs, and trekking across glaciers, Catherine discovered a new kind of adventure that resulted in far fewer broken bones: media buying. A young star at LAKANA, she earned her stripes managing campaigns on NBCOlympics.com during the Athens and Torino games, thriving on the thrill of steering multimillion-dollar accounts like Coke, Kleenex, AT&T, Sony, GM, Volkswagen and Visa.

Record success. It’s no surprise that when Catherine took the helm of Marketing Architects’ Media Buying Services team, she steered it to its most successful year in TV. She says it’s the thrill of launching new clients, trying out new shows, programs and networks, and finding big breakthroughs that gets her adrenaline pumping now.

When Catherine isn’t navigating the seas of media buying, she can be found on the old family boat with her husband and puppy, crashing through the waves of the Minnesota lake where it all began.

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Ron Blevins

Ron Blevins, VP MA Media

When 6-year-old Ron got his first allowance, he didn't rush to 7-Eleven for candy. He made a pros and cons list of every candy to identify the very best option (apparently, it's Fun Dip). When his friends were buying their first cars based on color, Ron created a spreadsheet to analyze every make, model and dealership for the best interest rate, reliability and fuel economy. You see, Ron is what you’d call a maximizer.

Fast forward a few decades, and Ron has used that same passion to cement his reputation for maximizing media. His secret?

Know every detail about every offer on every table. With that philosophy, he’s created huge wins for clients. Like the time he saved Walmart $20 million through strategic media partnerships. Or the countless times he's negotiated his client’s way into coveted media events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the World Cup and the NCAA Championship. For Ron, a fun day centers on relentlessly securing the best options.

When Ron isn't maximizing transformative media deals, you can find him enjoying family time. That is, until his son and daughter start negotiating for a later bedtime. They are their father’s kids after all.

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Matt Hultgren

Matt Hultgren, VP Analytics

Matt blames his weird brain on his parents. Raised by a CPA and a piano teacher, he grew up in a home where the languages of math and music merged at their common denominator: patterns.

From algorithms to musical rhythms, Matt delights in finding the order behind the chaos. He loves playing with patterns as a pianist and electronic dance music composer. He loved establishing patterns in his college basketball career (specifically patterns of winning). And he loves identifying patterns in numbers as an analyst. It’s what made him one of the industry’s leading experts on attribution.

Matt’s friends make fun of him for his Rubik’s Cube obsession, but it’s all that practice at solving challenges faster and faster that prepared him to lead Marketing Architects’ analytics team to the cutting edge of technology and innovation. It also prepared him for a role as a key architect behind the results program that drives Marketing Architects’ Emotive Solutions Platform.

When he’s not pursuing his life goal of memorizing all 60 algorithms for solving any possible Rubik’s Cube, Matt spends his time going to concerts, playing basketball, and establishing a pattern of beating his dad at golf.

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Dan Cleveland

Dan Cleveland, VP Analytics

As a kid, Dan wasn’t quite the athletic superstar he wanted to be. Then his soccer coach gave him some advice: "You won't beat anyone doing the same thing they are. Find ways to do things differently than everyone else."

So, Dan got really good at coming up with different – and better – ways to do things. Beyond sports, his coach's advice freed him from the constraints of the status quo and sparked his desire to explore uncharted territory. He served in the Army. He launched Fortune 500 companies’ loyalty programs. He also built analytics departments from the ground up – using an unconventional approach, of course. While everyone else focused on either performance metrics or brand building, Dan did both. He created an analytics department where analysts worked right alongside anthropologists.

These days, Dan's passion for finding different and better ways is enhancing Marketing Architects' robust Analytics DNASM platform, melding brand building and performance metrics to deliver unparalleled insights.

The old coach's advice put him on a path to play competitively in college. But more importantly, learning the value of continually looking for ways to improve has guided his 30 years as a husband and father.

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Aaron Lange

Aaron Lange, SVP Technology

What do you call a guy who’s accepted into college at age 15, graduates with a double major and was an expert in web design before the world knew the web existed? We call him Aaron Lange, but to say he’s just an overachieving techno guru is selling him short.

Let’s take a step back. His childhood was steeped in entrepreneurial spirit. His grandfather started a successful taxi company. His dad started a photo lab. An uncle ran an electronics store. In short, his family was a startup incubator decades before Silicon Valley was a thing. And that childhood gave Aaron more business savvy by age 12 than many adults have at 42.

So what happens when an aptitude for technology meets a sixth sense for opportunity? You get a hacker who propels companies forward by breaking and retooling technology to meet their ever-changing needs. And that’s why Aaron is a perfect fit as the head of Technology at Marketing Architects.

When he’s not bending software to his will, you’ll find him engrossed in the latest board game with his family or on the court, playing competitive volleyball.

Oh, and don’t even get him started on the time he reconfigured a calculator into a keypad lock for his bedroom door as a teenager. Mom was not amused.

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Michael Schmitt

Michael Schmitt, VP IT Communications

Do you know what really happens when you call a toll-free number listed on a TV ad? Michael does. No, he’s not the operator that answers your call. He’s the master architect…of the entire telecom solution at Marketing Architects.

But let’s catch you up on a few things. As soon as he learned how to walk, he was building things, plugging things in and taking things apart. His natural curiosity of how electronic things work basically stayed with him, shaping who he is today. And who exactly is that?

He’s the guy companies go to when they need innovative ways to get consumers connected with their products via the phone. With more than 30 years of call center automation technology wisdom, he’s the perfect guy for that.

Michael has developed the telecom infrastructure at Marketing Architects 500 times larger and more robust than it was when he started back in 2005. He led the development of Vocé – a one-of-a-kind, call-handling solution that takes the complexity out of perfecting the best caller experience.

Sure, Michael’s a telecom guru, but he doesn’t save his building skills strictly for the office. On the weekends, he often heads north, happily working away building his lovely lake home.

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Courtney Hoefener

Courtney Hoefener, VP Talent

How do you become a Vice President while being a full-time Super Mom? There are three key secrets. Courtney sees them as guiding principles. The rest of the company sees them, in her, for what they really are…super powers.

1. An endless reserve of grit. If there’s a problem Courtney can’t solve, she’ll do whatever it takes to figure it out. This determination has been a driving force as she’s worn virtually every hat in the company: from Executive Assistant, to retail and product development, to talent services.

2. Unrivaled customer service. According to her, there’s no greater joy than identifying and solving someone’s problem. When the agency was in the product business, Courtney was instrumental in building a world-class customer service platform - helping the agency to develop HurryCane® into one of the most respected brands in the mobility category.

3. The ability to listen. She takes the time to talk to anyone who needs it. She learned long ago that helping people feel heard creates passionate team members and a stronger sense of unity.

She also puts her super powers to work at home, architecting unforgettable family vacations and raising three boys: two sons and a husband.

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Rita O'Keeffe

Rita O'Keeffe, VP Corporate Council

Rita doesn’t just cook her own Chinese food. She scours the internet for rare seeds to grow her own Facing Heaven peppers. She doesn’t just garden. She learns the Latin name and optimal soil PH level. The details aren’t just important. They’re everything.

Growing up on the East Coast, she read voraciously, getting into heated philosophical debates with loved ones. Her passion for arguments and the nitty gritty made law school a no-brainer.

Making her mark. She quickly made a name for herself at one of New York’s most prestigious law firms. Then, she moved to Minneapolis to help big brands protect their trademarks as an advisor and litigator, even going out with federal marshals on a raid to confiscate counterfeit luxury watches.

Here at Marketing Architects, she’s constantly digging into the latest legal developments in marketing, advertising, intellectual property and information technology. She assesses how they impact the agency and our advertisers in every category.

When she isn’t poring over scripts and legal documents or perfecting Szechuan classics, she’s enjoying quality time with her husband and daughter. She admits, however, that her daughter may be picking up mom’s art of the argument a bit too well.

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Chuck Hengel, Founder & CEO

Brent Longval, Chief Financial Officer

Angela Voss, Chief Client Officer

Stephanie Leapaldt, VP Client Growth

Marin Suska, VP Client Growth

Rob DeMars, Chief Creative Officer

Eric Pilhofer, VP Creative

Ryan Kinkaid, VP Creative

Ben Fruehauf, VP Creative

Paul Jackson, Chief Media Officer

Catherine Dettloff, VP MA Media

Ron Blevins, VP MA Media

Matt Hultgren, VP Analytics

Dan Cleveland, VP Analytics

Aaron Lange, SVP Technology

Michael Schmitt, VP IT Communications

Courtney Hoefener, VP Talent

Rita O’Keeffe, VP Corporate Counsel

Chuck Hengel

Chuck Hengel Founder & CEO

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How does a self-proclaimed introvert, who's more comfortable on a bass boat than at a podium, inspire an organization to run full steam towards what’s next to come? The answer is "Chuck."

Performance marketing is filled with eclectic entrepreneurs. So when it came to choosing a living, a younger Chuck Hengel became captivated by this renegade industry of inventors and madmen. With a brain for numbers, Chuck cut his teeth crunching numbers at one of the country’s largest performance marketers. He soon became the youngest partner at the nation’s premier print agency, Novus Print Media.

But entrepreneurs hang shingles. So in 1997, Chuck founded Marketing Architects. He drew the name out of a hat, but stuck with it because architects, like entrepreneurs, are all about building. His vision was a company by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. And his little lemonade stand transformed into one of the fastest growing marketing firms in Minneapolis.

Today Marketing Architects serves disruptive brands, from established juggernauts to ground-breaking entrepreneurs ready to become famous.

Incredibly, Chuck still finds time for what’s truly important in life. His wife Cindy. His beautiful kids. And, of course, bass fishing.

Brent Longval

Brent Longval Chief Financial
Officer

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Brent’s no ordinary spreadsheet-thirsty numbers guy. He’s a strategic thought leader. And a charismatic one to boot.

It all began on a basketball court. His father said, "To be successful on the pine floor, you have to take things one week at a time and success will come." Father knew best because Brent went on to lead the University of St. Thomas to its first Final Four appearance and is one of only a handful of players inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.

And that was just the start of his winning streak. During his early career at Arthur Anderson, Pillsbury and Agiliti, he showed the same passion for the balance sheet as he did on the court. In 2002, Brent joined a little company on the rise called Marketing Architects. He was quickly instrumental in establishing vital financial systems during the company’s early years. But with Brent’s strategic vision and contagious attitude, he spends any given day influencing the organization’s direction and growth and helping to pen the blueprint for what’s next at Marketing Architects.

How does Brent play so many roles, including his most important as family man to his wife Lesley and two terrific kids? He follows his dad’s timeless advice and takes it one week at a time.

Angela Voss

Angela Voss Chief Client Officer

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When most people are faced with a challenge, they run as fast as they can the other way, Scooby-Doo style. Angela, on the other hand, races full speed toward it.

Angela’s definitely someone you want in your court...which is why Marketing Architects is happy to have her here. She’s spent nearly a decade crafting meticulous campaign strategies that have delivered extraordinary ROI for our clients. Her in-depth TV marketing knowledge has not only helped her team overcome industry challenges, but also driven record-breaking profit. For Angela, it’s just another day.

Where did she learn to welcome challenge and demand success? Angela’s college basketball career has a lot to do with it. On the court she learned the true meaning of perseverance. When you pair that with her unflinching focus and dogged desire to succeed, it’s easy to understand why she’s good at what she does.

While it’s no secret that Angela’s a fearless leader, not everyone knows she’s also a kid at heart. A day with her three daughters spent playing with rainbow hair chalk, glitter tattoos and dress-up clothes is a day well spent in Angela’s book.

Stephanie Leapaldt

Stephanie Leapaldt VP Client Growth

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Why does Stephanie love so many sports? Because golf, lacrosse, softball, football, and hockey all have something in common: the thrill of competition. That passion has been the driver behind a career packed with client wins and building winning teams.

But let’s back up. While other kids went to Disneyland, Stephanie’s parents took her to the Dominican Republic where she learned Latin dance. Before long, she was dancing competitively (and winning ferociously). Her secret? Finding the magical balance between following tradition and breaking the rules.

She brings that same passion and competitive spirit to her clients. She learns the ins and outs of their industry. Then she strategizes ways to be a relentlessly disruptive marketer.

Turns out her winning formula also works for cultivating the next generation of talent. At Bolin Marketing, Mirum, and Space 150, Stephanie developed successful teams by finding smart people, giving them the tools to succeed, and challenging them to innovate unexpected solutions.

When Stephanie isn’t turning emerging brands into household names, she’s still passionate about sports. But now they take a backseat to being a busy wife and mother of two adorable children plus a Chihuahua.

Marin Suska

Marin Suska VP Client Growth

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In 2004, Marin teamed up with Paul Jackson, our Chief Media Officer, to build the largest network of radio stations in the country.

They started by throwing out every conventional business development blueprint. They traveled from coast to coast to meet the owners of radio stations and had open conversations about the biggest problems they faced. As they knocked on doors and made connections, Marin discovered that when you build relationships by solving problems, you can succeed anywhere.

So she took her unique approach to problem-solving on the road, leaving Marketing Architects® to work in the heart of Silicon Valley. She helped build an interactive rocket demo for Elon Musk. Then she went on to Asia Pacific to build a unique user interface. And on her way back to Minneapolis, she stopped in Paris, London, and Berlin to build payment processors for each culture and currency.

Before returning to Marketing Architects to help our clients overcome the biggest challenges they face, she solved problems for Microsoft, Digital River, Nerdery, Haworth, and Target. Now’s she’s home sweet home in Minneapolis with her husband Brock, three kids, and a really big dog.

Rob DeMars

Rob DeMars Chief Creative Officer

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Rob was an awkward kid. He did magic tricks and watched enough episodes of Knight Rider to earn him a trip to the family therapist. Enough said.

It was clear at an early age that Rob was destined for either a career super-sizing value meals or being a creative executive in advertising. During college, he received national recognition working as a copywriter for the Minnesota Daily. His next stop was the largest advertising agency in Minneapolis, Campbell Mithun. His work with iconic brands like General Mills, Hostess, Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, and Hefty earned him the youngest vice presidency in the company’s history.

The big move. In 2004, Rob was approached to join a company called Marketing Architects. After informing the recruiter he wasn’t an architect, he discovered that this growing agency was looking to build a creative department. Rob accepted the challenge and went on to build an eclectic team of creatives who were equal parts artist and scientist.

At home, Rob enjoys performing card tricks for his wife and kids, and, of course, watching reruns of Knight Rider.

Eric Pilhofer

Eric Pilhofer VP Creative

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To describe Eric without using the word "creative" would be like singing a song without the melody. The son of a popular jazz musician, it was natural for Eric to start his eclectic career as a music producer at Sound80, a Minneapolis-based audio studio that produced the first digital recording, ever.

An artist and entrepreneur. From there, he opened his own business, penning original music and sound scores. After working with brands like Audi, Lee Jeans and Coke throughout the 1990s, Eric decided it was time to channel his creativity into another form. That’s when his art studio, Pilhoferwerks, was born. For the last two decades, he’s been crafting inspiring ceramic sculptures.

Then he brought his artful eye to Marketing Architects. He’s molded his role into something that highlights the very best of his skills. First, he built the bones of a revolutionary audio department. Then he did the same for TV production.

Nowadays, you’ll find Eric steering the production of every TV commercial we produce. And you can bet it doesn’t leave his office until it absolutely sings. When he leaves the office, you’ll probably see Eric pedaling around Minnetonka, peacefully contemplating the Next Big Thing.

Ryan Kinkaid

Ryan Kinkaid VP Creative

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As a child, Ryan discovered his dad’s vintage copies of National Geographic. It sparked a curiosity for exotic cultures. To fan the flames, his parents wallpapered his room with maps from around the world. It wasn’t long before they found him planning imaginary expeditions across his walls.

As he got older, he fed that curiosity by studying in Germany, joining the Peace Corps in Armenia and connecting with locals in places like Transylvania, Bogota, Haiti and Istanbul. Along the way, he discovered two passions: making genuine connections with people wherever he went and developing captivating stories to share the experiences.

From nomad to creating ads. Turns out that being a good storyteller, with a world-class photographer’s eye, comes in handy when you’re crafting disruptive creative. That’s how Ryan found a voice that resonates for virtually every product category and helped develop the creative team at Marketing Architects.

When he isn’t in the office, Ryan and his wife can be found somewhere on planet Earth. Whether they’re backpacking the remote Icelandic Westfjords or exploring slot canyons in Utah, you can count on him for a good story.

Ben Fruehauf

Ben Fruehauf VP Creative

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Everything Ben needed to know, he learned riding a motorcycle. Having nothing between you and asphalt but two wheels and a roaring engine changes your world view. Whether he’s dragging knees around the race track or carving canyons amid bad drivers and semi trucks, Ben finds clarity, peace and hyper focus.

Turns out that this clutter-cutting concentration is also the key to crafting world-class creative. Ben turned a tired potato chip campaign into a 40-million-dollar new business win, taking him from a small ad office in Chicago to the big leagues at BBDO NY.

Ben’s love for the open road has taken him to every corner of the country. He’s held key leadership positions at Campbell Mithun and Cuneo in Minneapolis and at Civilian in San Diego. Riding through big cities and small towns in every state has helped him find his voice – one that’s able to connect with the wide range of consumers in this country.

The opportunity at Marketing Architects, and the quality of life in the Midwest, reminded Ben why Minnesota is a great place to call home. But despite the cold, he’s never giving up his motorcycles. Because despite the occasional chaos, you never see a motorcycle parked in front of a therapist’s office.

Paul Jackson

Paul Jackson Chief Media Officer

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Meet employee number two.

Risk taker. Ski bum. Rock climber. Fatherhood. Paul has never shied away from the rush of adrenaline, so becoming a Denver disc jockey in college was a perfect fit for this thrill seeker. His voice and wit served him well as on-air talent, producer and editor for more than 30 mid-to-major markets.

Then came a call from Chuck that changed his life: an invitation to build the nation’s largest network of highly responsive radio inventory at rates nobody else could touch. Paul headed to Minneapolis and invented a platform that helped radio stations create additional revenue in ways they’d never seen. Today his team has generated well over 800 billion radio impressions and climbing.

In 2008, Jackson’s robust team of media black belts set their sights on doing for TV what they did for radio. In a few short years they’ve built the most powerful AI platform in the TV advertising industry with unparalleled access to national cable, local broadcast, national network, syndication, spot cable and satellite.

Most days Paul leaves his motorcycle in storage. Between his time at Marketing Architects and raising his young daughter with his wife Reena, Paul is getting all the adventure he needs.

Catherine Dettloff

Catherine Dettloff VP MA Media

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When Catherine was 5 years old, her parents strapped a pair of wooden water skis to her feet and fired up the family’s old Sea Ray. She’s been addicted to adrenaline and adventure ever since.

After trick skiing, racing around in speed boats, rappelling off cliffs, and trekking across glaciers, Catherine discovered a new kind of adventure that resulted in far fewer broken bones: media buying. A young star at LAKANA, she earned her stripes managing campaigns on NBCOlympics.com during the Athens and Torino games, thriving on the thrill of steering multimillion-dollar accounts like Coke, Kleenex, AT&T, Sony, GM, Volkswagen and Visa.

Record success. It’s no surprise that when Catherine took the helm of Marketing Architects’ Media Buying Services team, she steered it to its most successful year in TV. She says it’s the thrill of launching new clients, trying out new shows, programs and networks, and finding big breakthroughs that gets her adrenaline pumping now.

When Catherine isn’t navigating the seas of media buying, she can be found on the old family boat with her husband and puppy, crashing through the waves of the Minnesota lake where it all began.

Ron Blevins

Ron Blevins VP MA Media

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When 6-year-old Ron got his first allowance, he didn't rush to 7-Eleven for candy. He made a pros and cons list of every candy to identify the very best option (apparently, it's Fun Dip). When his friends were buying their first cars based on color, Ron created a spreadsheet to analyze every make, model and dealership for the best interest rate, reliability and fuel economy. You see, Ron is what you’d call a maximizer.

Fast forward a few decades, and Ron has used that same passion to cement his reputation for maximizing media. His secret?

Know every detail about every offer on every table. With that philosophy, he’s created huge wins for clients. Like the time he saved Walmart $20 million through strategic media partnerships. Or the countless times he's negotiated his client’s way into coveted media events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the World Cup and the NCAA Championship. For Ron, a fun day centers on relentlessly securing the best options.

When Ron isn't maximizing transformative media deals, you can find him enjoying family time. That is, until his son and daughter start negotiating for a later bedtime. They are their father’s kids after all.

Matt Hultgren

Matt Hultgren VP Analytics

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Matt blames his weird brain on his parents. Raised by a CPA and a piano teacher, he grew up in a home where the languages of math and music merged at their common denominator: patterns.

From algorithms to musical rhythms, Matt delights in finding the order behind the chaos. He loves playing with patterns as a pianist and electronic dance music composer. He loved establishing patterns in his college basketball career (specifically patterns of winning). And he loves identifying patterns in numbers as an analyst. It’s what made him one of the industry’s leading experts on attribution.

Matt's friends make fun of him for his Rubik’s Cube obsession, but it’s all that practice at solving challenges faster and faster that prepared him to lead Marketing Architects’ analytics team to the cutting edge of technology and innovation. It also prepared him for a role as a key architect behind the results program that drives Marketing Architects’ Emotive Solutions Platform.

When he’s not pursuing his life goal of memorizing all 60 algorithms for solving any possible Rubik's Cube, Matt spends his time going to concerts, playing basketball, and establishing a pattern of beating his dad at golf.

Dan Cleveland

Dan Cleveland VP Analytics

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As a kid, Dan wasn't quite the athletic superstar he wanted to be. Then his soccer coach gave him some advice: "You won't beat anyone doing the same thing they are. Find ways to do things differently than everyone else."

So, Dan got really good at coming up with different – and better – ways to do things. Beyond sports, his coach's advice freed him from the constraints of the status quo and sparked his desire to explore uncharted territory. He served in the Army. He launched Fortune 500 companies’ loyalty programs. He also built analytics departments from the ground up – using an unconventional approach, of course. While everyone else focused on either performance metrics or brand building, Dan did both. He created an analytics department where analysts worked right alongside anthropologists.

These days, Dan's passion for finding different and better ways is enhancing Marketing Architects' robust Analytics DNASM platform, melding brand building and performance metrics to deliver unparalleled insights.

The old coach's advice put him on a path to play competitively in college. But more importantly, learning the value of continually looking for ways to improve has guided his 30 years as a husband and father.

Aaron Lange

Aaron Lange SVP Technology

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What do you call a guy who’s accepted into college at age 15, graduates with a double major and was an expert in web design before the world knew the web existed? We call him Aaron Lange, but to say he’s just an overachieving techno guru is selling him short.

Let’s take a step back. His childhood was steeped in entrepreneurial spirit. His grandfather started a successful taxi company. His dad started a photo lab. An uncle ran an electronics store. In short, his family was a startup incubator decades before Silicon Valley was a thing. And that childhood gave Aaron more business savvy by age 12 than many adults have at 42.

So what happens when an aptitude for technology meets a sixth sense for opportunity? You get a hacker who propels companies forward by breaking and retooling technology to meet their ever-changing needs. And that’s why Aaron is a perfect fit as the head of Technology at Marketing Architects.

When he’s not bending software to his will, you’ll find him engrossed in the latest board game with his family or on the court, playing competitive volleyball.

Oh, and don’t even get him started on the time he reconfigured a calculator into a keypad lock for his bedroom door as a teenager. Mom was not amused.

Michael Schmitt

Michael Schmitt VP IT
Communications

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Do you know what really happens when you call a toll-free number listed on a TV ad? Michael does. No, he’s not the operator that answers your call. He’s the master architect…of the entire telecom solution at Marketing Architects.

But let’s catch you up on a few things. As soon as he learned how to walk, he was building things, plugging things in and taking things apart. His natural curiosity of how electronic things work basically stayed with him, shaping who he is today. And who exactly is that?

He’s the guy companies go to when they need innovative ways to get consumers connected with their products via the phone. With more than 30 years of call center automation technology wisdom, he’s the perfect guy for that.

Michael has developed the telecom infrastructure at Marketing Architects 500 times larger and more robust than it was when he started back in 2005. He led the development of Vocé – a one-of-a-kind, call-handling solution that takes the complexity out of perfecting the best caller experience.

Sure, Michael’s a telecom guru, but he doesn’t save his building skills strictly for the office. On the weekends, he often heads north, happily working away building his lovely lake home.

Courtney Hoefener

Courtney Hoefener VP Talent

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How do you become a Vice President while being a full-time Super Mom? There are three key secrets. Courtney sees them as guiding principles. The rest of the company sees them, in her, for what they really are…super powers.

1. An endless reserve of grit. If there’s a problem Courtney can’t solve, she’ll do whatever it takes to figure it out. This determination has been a driving force as she’s worn virtually every hat in the company: from Executive Assistant, to retail and product development, to talent services.

2. Unrivaled customer service. According to her, there’s no greater joy than identifying and solving someone’s problem. When the agency was in the product business, Courtney was instrumental in building a world-class customer service platform - helping the agency to develop HurryCane® into one of the most respected brands in the mobility category.

3. The ability to listen. She takes the time to talk to anyone who needs it. She learned long ago that helping people feel heard creates passionate team members and a stronger sense of unity.

She also puts her super powers to work at home, architecting unforgettable family vacations and raising three boys: two sons and a husband.

Rita O’Keeffe

Rita O’Keeffe VP Corporate
Counsel

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Rita doesn’t just cook her own Chinese food. She scours the internet for rare seeds to grow her own Facing Heaven peppers. She doesn’t just garden. She learns the Latin name and optimal soil PH level. The details aren’t just important. They’re everything.

Growing up on the East Coast, she read voraciously, getting into heated philosophical debates with loved ones. Her passion for arguments and the nitty gritty made law school a no-brainer.

Making her mark. She quickly made a name for herself at one of New York’s most prestigious law firms. Then, she moved to Minneapolis to help big brands protect their trademarks as an advisor and litigator, even going out with federal marshals on a raid to confiscate counterfeit luxury watches.

Here at Marketing Architects, she’s constantly digging into the latest legal developments in marketing, advertising, intellectual property and information technology. She assesses how they impact the agency and our advertisers in every category.

When she isn’t poring over scripts and legal documents or perfecting Szechuan classics, she’s enjoying quality time with her husband and daughter. She admits, however, that her daughter may be picking up mom’s art of the argument a bit too well.