Grady Britton Reflects on 45 Years of Doing Good

Grady Britton is celebrating 45 years as a Portland agency. We’ve helped countless companies tell their stories. We’ve donated $800,000+ back into our community (just in the last 10 years). We’ve had two pairs of dedicated leaders. 

To celebrate our anniversary year, we spoke with the two people who started it all—Frank Grady and Cherry Britton—and the two people running it all now—Paige Campbell and Andy Askren. They reflect on where we started, how we’ve grown, and the direction we’re headed next. 


When you first began the agency, in what ways did you hope to see it grow?
In the beginning, the agency provided a path for me to offer services to local companies in an independent manner. I’ve always enjoyed helping clients be successful, providing solutions and outside perspectives. My goal in the beginning was to build a stable base of clients, and to learn and grow along with them — shared values and mutual success were the overall goals. The payoff was the stimulation of engaging in challenges for a wide variety of companies and personalities. 

What about this agency’s 45-year history makes you most proud?
I am most proud of the culture, integrity, and heart of Grady Britton. The agency has always been grounded in providing high-quality advertising and remarkable service to its clients. The agency has helped our industry and our community become economically stronger. And the heart of GB has helped so many non-profits and individuals be successful. The agency is an example of what good companies can do to grow their employees, be successful, and make our community healthier.  



When you first began the agency, in what ways did you hope to see it grow?
From the beginning, our goals were to create a space that brought value to our clients while honoring the lives and contributions of all who worked at the agency. What that client value was in specific detail changed and grew over time as the agency grew and matured. But the goal of treating clients and employees with integrity never changed. That guided every decision and every transaction, internally and externally.

Of the two of us, Frank was always the one with real vision. It seemed like he knew where he was going from Day One! I hung onto my hat — for the most part — and said, “Let’s go!” Then we both pitched in to make his vision happen.

What about this agency’s 45-year history makes you most proud?
Well, of course the work speaks for itself. Hard not to be proud of that. But what I am most proud of concerns people — how many friendships were made and sustained, inter-agency and with clients. The bands. The bowling and softball team. The Grady Britton Book Club that has continued these many years. And the laughter — that unique mix of goofiness, creativity, and disciplined focus that is necessary to sustain an agency and to produce extraordinary work. I’m immensely proud to see such vibrancy and commitment in the faces of those who work at Grady Britton today. 



What goals did you have for the agency in your first year of ownership?
It sounds crazy, but my goal at that time was for the agency to stay afloat. The recession hit about 6 months after signing our purchase agreement, and Andy and I had just made our down payments. We were experiencing layoffs, and our clients’ marketing budgets were in serious decline. At the time, I remember wondering if/how we were going to make it and wondering what was going to happen next. 

I know when we planned to buy the agency originally we were hoping to build on the great reputation the agency had and to prioritize our culture and clients who had a Will to be Great, but once the recession hit, my goal was to make payroll every month.

How has the agency grown under your ownership?
The agency has changed so much, yet at the same time, it’s true and even more committed to its roots. We’ve become larger, stronger, and deeper in capabilities — and our purpose and culture have become richer and more meaningful. We live and work in integrity each day, and it feels right. To me, it didn’t feel that way 9 years ago. 

How would you like to see Grady Britton’s work impact clients in the future?
We know our strategy and work has the ability to transform our clients’ businesses. And we are committed to helping the good guys win — those special companies doing right by the world. I hope our work introduces, propels, and inspires people who are seeking more alignment and meaning in their lives. Over time, as we help organizations that are helping to create a better tomorrow grow, society will be impacted positively, and our environment and all of us will be better for it. 



What goals did you have for the agency in your first year of ownership?
That first year took what I had originally set as my goals for the agency and handed me completely new ones. Each month of that year, each week, each day, was about business survival. Just keeping this gem of a company that I’d fallen in love with alive and running, while still keeping the approach our work took “GB-right.” The agency had a reputation to live up to regardless of some little ol’ recession we also happened to be juggling.  

How has the agency grown under your ownership?
To me, the agency has come into itself in a really fantastic way. It’s always had a certain “feel” to it, and an aim to do the right thing. We’ve put a lot of work into defining what made up that feeling, that sense — and then got into the nitty gritty of how we make that happen in a sustainable, tangible way with a common language. Codifying that has attracted folks who take what they do very personally; they’re wholly invested in what they can make happen for our clients and community. 

How would you like to see Grady Britton’s work impact clients in the future?
People are looking for things they can believe in and support: missions, stories, actions. Businesses and brands doing good in the world can be those anchors now. And for the ones who take on that responsibility, I want to see them flood the market and own that charge. I believe GB exists to fuel that movement. I hope we continue to attract more and more clients who want the same thing, and more employees and partners who are up for that. I hope we inspire other agencies to point themselves in that direction, too.

Post Date
December 5, 2019
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