April 1, 2001.
Funny how a day can stay in your memory like something you saw on TV last night — a show that repeats in your mind over and over again. Yes, this was a day that would change my life, put the past behind me and start a new beginning. It was April 1, 2001, the day CKR Interactive was born.
Let me begin by saying I went into this new venture kicking and screaming. Since selling my previous agency in 1995 I had been floundering to find any type of meaningful career. I was too young to retire and too old to start a rock band (besides having a bad voice and no musical talent). I had ventured into wine importing (not great for a beer and tequila guy) and helped build a career website in China where graft and corruption overrode any type of business ethics. The most significant and best part of the late 1990’s was the birth of my son Max.
For years I had been hearing from friends, family and coworkers, why don’t you start another ad agency? The logic was, if you did it once you can do it again. Besides, my previous agency was an amazing journey that if given the chance I would do all over again. In early 2001 I decided a rebirth was in store. We started our new venture inside a product-based agency as they were providing a significant investment.
Our office was the size of a refrigerator in the back of an industrial type building. The first couple of years were neither smooth nor fun. Not that the other agency was bad, but mostly it just didn’t feel like home. I felt like I was visiting a relative that was sick of my company. Besides this, I was delusional about how easy it would be to just pick up where I had left off five years ago. “Of course everyone will want to work with us; they loved working with my previous agency.” Well, that didn’t happen.
Memories from the first couple years include trying to come up with a name for our new venture. A couple that didn’t make the cut were “Martha Ray’s Panty Hose” and “Barak, There’s a Parrot on My Shoulder.” We decided on CKR Interactive — a tie-in to my previous agency, Rogers and Associates, my initials as opposed to my name. The tie-in was as obvious as Donald Trumps’ stance on immigration.
What really changed our business was moving into our own digs in Cupertino. I can’t explain why, but it created a whole new energy, where work was fun and invigorating. We had a small second floor walk-up that was dingy, old and sort of in a bad location, but it was great because it was ours. This is where CKR got its own identity and would grow and prosper.
Now, 15 years later, I am incredibly lucky and grateful for the friends I’ve made, the coworkers I’ve been able to learn from and the clients who have contributed to our success. I also reflect back on a couple of individuals that were lost to cancer, my sister Ronni Rogers who oversaw the East Coast and Kathy Reed, who was our office manager. They were loved and will be missed forever.
So raise a glass and have a toast for CKR Interactive.