Welcome to this edition of 5 From 5 Fold. Each month, we’ll ask a different member of the 5 Fold Marketing team five questions about themselves, what their job is like, and what they see as the future of marketing.
This month, we sat down with 5 Fold’s Web Designer and Project Manager, John Klohr, to talk about how his past experiences inform his work today, what excites him about 5 Fold’s future direction, and what piece of furniture he’d really love to design for the 5 Fold office.
1. Where did you grow up, and where’d you go to college? What did you do before joining 5 Fold?
“I was born and raised in Pinetop, Arizona. I went to school at Blue Ridge and from there, I went to Prescott—to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I was an aeronautical engineering major and I wanted to fly commercial aircraft, so I got my private pilot’s license and I was working on that. Then, September 11 happened, and I could see where the industry was going to go, so I got out. I was in school for about two years there at that point. I went down to Tucson, and, from there, I tried out some engineering programs. Nothing really fit me, so I started working. I moved to the Valley and I started doing construction. I got in with a rigging company, Masthead Rigging. From there, I grew my career in the field and worked my way from being a temp service worker—working the docks and just hustling—to finally becoming a general safety manager, then a regional safety manager and, after that, getting into engineering and project management. My last title at that job was project engineer.
2. How have your previous experiences prepared you for your role with 5 Fold?
“Part of my skill set I developed in my previous work is what I’m doing right now, which is organizing people and their skills against a timeline, and applying products and services to that so that we get from point A to point B on-time and on-budget, so that everyone is happy with the work. It’s kind of the same thing as I’m doing now. In the past, I had some design courses, and I owned a cabinet company for a short amount of time. Through my work on that front, Scott asked me to come in and do some design work for 5 Fold. I freelanced for about a year before I got hired on. It was great.”
“I’ve had a lot of failures in life and I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons. It’s one of those things where you just come to 5 Fold and, and you come across something from your past that you remember, and it helps you in your current situation. It’s so fun to take those lessons and apply them now to a fresh start. You don’t have to relearn it, you can just skip it and move past that point. Just taking those past experiences and applying them to a fresh canvas is so much fun.”
3. What if your favorite part about working at 5 Fold? What makes you excited to come into work every single day?
“It’s learning. There’s so much to know here. From department to department and what other people can teach you—the context of it and what you can learn from people. You can see progress happening and, being that it’s a new company, there’s a lot of groundwork and hard work involved. Nobody is going to give you a template and say, ‘Ok, this is how you do it.’ You have to analyze everything from every angle you can figure out and try to put it together yourself. That’s exciting.”
4. You not only design websites, but you also project manage the team. What is that process like, and how do you keep everyone on the same page?
“The number one thing is to have a company goal. That’s the ultimate thing, and everything works backward from that. In my mind, I have this grandiose picture of us in our own building with teams and teams of people working in their own departments, collaborating and coming up with new products. That’s the vision I was given by Scott and Bijo. Taking that vision and working backwards from that—saying, ‘What do we need to do to accomplish this thing?’—requires thinking about the different lengths of time each goal will take. Maybe it’s a ten-year goal, or a five-year one, or a year goal. Maybe it fits within a month or even a week. You get down to the daily and see how it all fits. You eat that elephant one bite at a time; you know you’ll get through it eventually, but you have to start somewhere.”
“To keep everything straight, the best answer is organization. Hyper-organization. And if you don’t understand something, ask questions, questions, and more questions. Even if you ask the same question a hundred times, it’s important to get your mind to the right frame just so it will stick. I find that it’s best for me to lean on the expertise of everybody else. I don’t know everything about everyone else’s department and I’d be fooling myself and the company if I said that I did. It’s a lot easier to admit that and say, ‘I don’t know everything there is to know about content. So, rather than me trying to tell you what to do, how about this: how about you be the expert and tell me what you’re doing, and I’ll see if I can fit it in with what everyone else is doing.’ At that point, I have all the pieces of my puzzle together, and now it’s the assembly process. Who does what? How do they do it, and how do they do it best? How can I facilitate them to help make their job easier, more fun, and more interactive? We want to make sure that everything our employees are doing is the best-practiced way to do it. One, so that they are happy, and, two, so that the company is profitable. You’ll continue to see us put those things together.”
5. What makes you most excited about 5 Fold’s future?
“I’m most excited about the people. To be honest, I worked in the construction industry, where you have multiple people you’re working with, ranging from people who haven’t haven’t had a job in five years all the way up to these senior executives who were highly educated. There’s a full gamut of people in there, and juggling personalities is tough and there’s a lot of them. Plus, construction people can be a bit rough. Coming in here, and just finding the right people almost instantaneously for each department has been really cool, and that’s going to be the ‘secret sauce’ for this entire recipe. That’s going to be the ingredient that gets it going. Here’s the deal: if you can’t collaborate or you don’t like the people you work with, it’s the ‘fly in the soup’. It’s just going to make everything gross. It’s very important to have the right team, and I feel that we’re off to a great start with our team.”
“As we start to build out, you’re going to see personalities start to bloom. I see us very busy working on process and procedures and everything else through the end of the year. Going into next year, I feel like we’ll have broken ground and you’ll see us blossoming. Departments will start to fill out and we’ll be in a new building.”
“The thing I’m really excited to see, though? I’m excited about what we’ll be able to do for our clients. I know what other agencies do: I know all the false promises and that marketing gets a bad rap, because many people think they can start a company so long as they have a computer in their basement. There’s a thousand marketing companies within ten miles of here. But, what can we do that they’re not doing, and how much better can we do it? It’s really going to come down to campaign performance. Our retention rate already says everything about us. It’s about personality and how we interact with clients, and the way we do stuff. Our clients know we’re working as hard as possible and trying to improve their campaigns every single day.
“On top of that is performance. Can we perform, especially in a very competitive market? Can you stand heads and shoulders above them? I’m very excited to see everything we’re working on and developing as a company actually working to help us be a machine that helps client’s phones ring and money come into their accounts. Our case studies, word of mouth, and reputation within the industry are really going to explode if we can back up our word.”
Bonus: You’ve previously designed and created furniture, including most of the furniture here in the office. What is one project you’ve always wanted to take on?
“I’ve always wanted to do a conference room with a very large table. I want to go outside of my comfort zone and do something made of concrete, 25 feet long, with a 5 Fold stamp in the middle of it. Get lighting underneath it. It’ll either be a complete disaster where we’ve wasted a thousand bucks or it’ll be the most awesome thing you’ve ever seen. There’s just so many things I want to do. Our walls are just blank canvasses, and the problem is that I have a hard time choosing what I want to do, because there are so many ideas I have. I just want it to fit together in the end!”