What’s Next @ Barokas
September 12, 2018
Last year I had a conversation about my “what’s next” with my dad. You see, Morgan Barokas spent 60 years with the same company and most of the time in the same role; a Purchasing Manager for a steel company. The focus of his job was buying steel from mills that make it and selling it to construction companies that need it.
On the surface one might make the mistake and see this as a transactional position. To my dad, steel was almost an afterthought, he was in the relationship business. Since 1958, my dad kept a journal of all the people he worked with on the supplier side and the buyer side. He’s made it his life’s work to get to know these folks as people, not customers. He knows their birthdays, anniversaries, he knows about their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He’s attended life’s greatest celebrations with them, and he’s been by their family’s side when it was time to say goodbye. Given my dad’s work history and passion for the people he befriended over the past 60 years, and because he’s my dad, I found it perfect to chat with him about my vision for the agency that has his last name on the door.
He asked me about my goals, what, if anything was the next thing, and if I planned to be at BPR for 60 years. Since I’d be 93 years old to make it 60 years, I assured him his record would remain untouched, though it is a funny thought – a 93-year-old PR pro. Imagine my bio: with over 59 years of experience in tech PR, Howie has secured coverage in every publication that no longer exists.
I told my dad my goal was to continue growing the agency and extend our services into many new areas. I had to be somewhat vague on this end as I’m pretty sure my parents don’t really understand what I do. Often when the team places a great story for a client I’ll share it with mom and dad, but they’re always disappointed because my name isn’t in it. They don’t get it, and that’s okay. What my dad understands is hard work, good people, and defining your own version and vision of what success looks like.
I told my dad that by the time Barokas Communications turns 20 years old (Sept 28, 2018), I’d like to know that I could hop on my Harley and leave for a month or two, or three (you see where this is going) and know that everything will be great; clients will be happy, staff will be happy, we’ll continue to grow, and all will be right with the world. At the time we had this conversation I couldn’t really imagine getting on my bike and disappearing, although the reality is even a few years ago, I could’ve because I am surrounded by an amazing, talented team that does all the heavy lifting at the agency. Aside from my motorcycle escapade, I told my dad that one day I’d like to get back to what I really love doing: working with clients and being a PR guy again. The irony I’ve found, is when you start a PR agency you do it because you love PR. But after a while, if you work hard, the agency grows and the less you do what you love and the more you do what the business requires.
Today, as BPR is a little more than a few weeks away from our 20th birthday, I’m so grateful to our senior leaders for all the incredible work they’ve done, and are doing to ensure client success and the agency’s growth in a digital world. It is in that spirit that I’m moving to a new role of Founder, and bestowing the CEO title to our longest-term employee, someone who started by squeezing her foot in the door as a recent college graduate looking for an Account Coordinator position in 1999. It has personally been one of the most rewarding transformations to watch as Karli quickly mastered PR and became a trusted counselor to her clients at hundreds of enterprise and consumer companies. After 15+ years on the client side, Karli began focusing on the operations of the agency and many new disciplines along the communications spectrum. She is going to be the perfect CEO and I’m confident will lead the agency into our next phase of growth with vision and purpose.
On a similar note, I am happy to announce that Johanna Erickson has been promoted to President, focusing on client strategy and success across the organization. Jo came to Barokas over five years ago to jumpstart our entry into the Denver market. She has been instrumental in growing our presence in Colorado, with half of our staff now located in Denver. Jo quickly became our “Mighty Mouse” to the team and clients, and I can’t think of a person better suited to lead client strategy moving forward.
Please join me in congratulating Karli and Jo on their new, incredibly well-deserved roles. I know the partnership between these two leaders will create new opportunities for our clients and staff. In the meantime, I’m going to take that ride on my Harley and when I get back, I’m back to doing what I love; build relationships, chat with client prospects, brainstorm and strategize.
Lastly, a big thank you to my dad – for everything. I’ll never forget your advice, your smile, your laugh, and how it never made sense to you that I could be working, but not be in the office. Much love dad; you’ll forever be missed but always with me.
Morgan Barokas (September 20, 1934 – August 17, 2018)
A note from Karli Overmier, CEO
For nearly 20 years, I’ve had the opportunity to help grow BPR from the ground up – and what a ride it’s been. On the client side, I have been fortunate to be mentored by colleagues at the top of their game. They’ve taught me to take risks, embrace the unknown, and avoid the constraints that come with the way things have always been done. I have also been lucky to work hand in hand with clients that possess bold aspirations. Together, we have worked tirelessly to carve out new markets and disrupt existing ones. The expectations were always immense and each day brought new learnings.
As Howie mentioned, I’ve spent the last several years focusing on business operations, spearheading finance, recruiting, business development and other initiatives. It’s exciting to be at a point in time where I can combine these experiences into one as CEO. In this new role, I aim to carry on the founding spirit of BPR, while carving a new path that reflects the growth and evolution of the agency. Over the last few years we have developed new areas of expertise in the tech sector (space, healthcare and others), and built a consumer lifestyle portfolio featuring clients such as W Hotels, Flywheel Sports, The Essential Baking Company, and Washington’s Playground, among others. Our work with these companies has given us the opportunity to build out social and influencer campaigns and deepen our expertise in these areas.
I’m ready to jump headfirst into the role of CEO, backed by our hardworking and creative team, and the unwavering support of Howie, our fearless founder. We have some new initiatives in the works, and I can’t wait to share them with you over the coming months.
A note from Johanna Erickson, President
Five years ago, I sat down with my laptop, big dreams and a clear vision to introduce the Barokas brand to Colorado. For a little while, it was just me and my laptop. And then the vision came to life. We built an incredibly talented team ready to work hard, think differently and partner with exciting brands who had unique and inspiring stories to be told. I am deeply proud of the work we have done, the relationships we have built and the brand we continue to grow.
For me, the last five years have been the most rewarding of my career. As President, I strive to build an inspiring culture across both our office that fosters creativity and incredibly meaningful work. As I enter into this new role, I am most excited to work closely with each member of the team, supporting their growth and individual strengths.
As we evolve into the next chapter of Barokas Communications, I could not be more excited about where we are headed. And, just as I did five years ago, I still have my trusty laptop and those big dreams for what we are about to do together.
In other agency news, we are proud to promote two long-time team members to new leadership roles. Please join me in congratulating Morgan Bradley on her promotion to Vice President and Ashley Allman on her promotion to Director of Content.
Check back often to see all that we have in store!