Moving Up, Out, and South: Middle of Six Expands to Portland, Oregon
Growth and expansion are milestones in any company’s journey. For Middle of Six, industry turbulence in 2020 provided opportunities for both. With a record number of clients signaling a need for help in crafting marketing strategies for a changing economy, the team at Middle of Six knew the time was right to take the next step forward—hiring additional in-house talent and officially bringing the Tacoma, Washington-based firm’s A/E/C marketing services to Oregon.
Affectionately known internally as ‘The A Team’, Allison Tivnon and Allison Rose joined Middle of Six within a month of each other. Allison T. has been an active player in A/E/C marketing in Portland, Oregon for over 13 years. Allison R., based in Seattle, is a graphic designer and digital marketing specialist who helps clients communicate their stories through visual formats. Together, the Allisons are working in concert with the rest of the Middle of Six team to bring their powerhouse package of marketing services to Oregon.
A Vision that Includes Oregon
For principals Wendy Simmons and Melissa English, expansion over state lines has long been a part of the strategic plan. “We’ve been so well-received in the Puget Sound area and knew there was a need and a market in Oregon for our services,” Wendy comments. Melissa adds, “When I first joined the firm, we talked about growth and what we wanted to achieve long-term. So many of our clients in Seattle have offices in Portland. We’ve been eager to work with staff beyond this local footprint and engage more broadly across their firms.”
“I've been in the industry for over 13 years now and can’t count the times I’ve heard fellow marketers say they wish there were more resources locally to serve as an extension when workload gets overwhelming."
But the vision goes further than that. Ambition, grit, and the overwhelmingly positive response from clients is pushing Middle of Six to dream big. “We want to become a go-to A/E/C marketing firm across the West Coast,” says Wendy. As Allison T. excitedly puts it, Portland is a proving ground for A/E/C firms. “Our urban growth boundary policies in Oregon provides a unique sandbox to get creative in when tackling infrastructure challenges. This in turn attracts a unique blend of talented consulting firms and developers—all vying for a seat at the table when it comes to the future of our built environment.” And given the nature of recessions, A/E/C firms are getting proactive in developing useful external marketing services to distinguish themselves in an increasingly competitive landscape. Middle of Six’s unique blend of offerings, including proposal development, strategic planning, training and facilitation, and brand development help fill a need that often goes unanswered. “I've been in the industry for over 13 years now and can’t count the times I’ve heard fellow marketers say they wish there were more resources locally to serve as an extension when workload gets overwhelming,” says Allison T.
Local Experts and the Power of Remote Collaboration
With the Oregon expansion, Middle of Six now blends A/E/C talent from across the Northwest. Kyle Davis, a Bellingham-based Middle of Sixer who specializes in communications and website development, attests to the ease of working united while physically apart. “I was hired way before the shutdown, and I was 100% remote from the jump,” says Kyle. “Middle of Six exists to give people this kind of flexibility. Remote work collapses the walls.” As for working with colleagues who she largely hasn’t even met in person, Allison T. is upbeat. “Even though it’s on a screen, I felt at home immediately. This team is so enthusiastic about the work and about helping each other. We each come from the A/E/C industry and spent years in the field as in-house talent. That kind of perspective breeds a unique sensitivity for each other’s needs.” Wendy also sees the upsides from the client’s point-of-view. “Having people set up in different locations works very well with the way we connect with our clients. It’s simply faster to get everyone together virtually.”
Diversity of Clients Fuels Creativity
As for the differences between serving as in-house staff versus contracting with a variety of A/E/C firms, any staffer at the firm can tell you, working for numerous clients means never falling into a rut. Since Allison R. started, she has had the opportunity to collaborate on a diverse mix of design projects, including rebranding campaigns, InDesign template creation, and development of infographics that turn lines of boilerplate text into impactful visuals. “The diversity of work that I get to experience daily is astounding. You never really know what you’re going to be jumping into each day.” Kyle also thrives on the mix of client needs. “Each day you get to dive into someone’s world, see things from their perspective, tell their story, amplify their strengths. There is always a new dynamic, a new culture. Nothing is stagnant. It’s always fresh. Every day is action-packed.”
Providing such a varied, yet inter-related field of services inspires the staff to constantly research the latest in best practices. “I love that we get to help so many different clients,” says Melissa. “It’s not just one service or one market sector. You get to be a trusted advisor—someone that helps.” This trust and belief in the process and products that Middle of Six offers harken back to the very reason Wendy founded the company in 2017. “I love all of it. I love working hard. I love our team. And we wouldn’t have this committed group if we didn’t have amazing clients to work with who trust us and fold us into their companies.”
A Much-Needed Resource for A/E/C Firms
From the beginning, much of Middle of Six’s work comes from repeat customers and word of mouth. And the response to news of the company’s growth has begun to come in. “The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Allison T. “To have a crew of trusted professionals across such a broad range of marketing tasks … folks are thrilled knowing this kind of resource is available in Oregon and in the Northwest.” And in an industry of fierce competition, the support and camaraderie shown to the staff at Middle of Six has served as rocket fuel that keeps the team blasting off with new creative ideas and approaches. “Early supporters and clients of Middle of Six are seeing our vision come together—they see us making good on our strategic plan. They’re watching us grow and are cheering us on.”
“Each day you get to dive into someone’s world, see things from their perspective, tell their story, amplify their strengths. There is always a new dynamic, a new culture. Every day is action-packed."
Though their tenures only began at the end of 2020, Allison R. and Allison T. have quickly carved out their identities and unique contributions. “I enjoy Allison Tivnon’s outgoing personality,” says Melissa. “She has lots of fun stories and perspective from her time in the industry. She’s been able to jump right in with both feet, helping clients from day one. And I love Allison Rose’s design eye. She is so fast at drumming up multiple design options.” Kyle agrees, “Allison Rose is extremely talented. To have such strong graphic design skills plus strong writing skills is rare. Allison Tivnon is process-oriented and extremely organized. She’s a leader and a strategic thinker. I don’t think there’s anything our crew can’t do with this team.” As for Wendy, who is watching her vision for expansion in both services and geography take flight, the sky’s the limit. “We knew we needed these talents in-house. We knew we wanted to open locally in Oregon. But you don’t really know the true personalities and skills of new team members until you get to work with them, and I am so happy with what both bring to our team.”
Even as the economy continues to keep folks on the edge of their seats, the future looks bright with firms knowing that resources exist to help them navigate their way through the recession and prepare for when the good times return. And along the way, the Allisons and the rest of the staff at Middle of Six will be busy in the background helping their clients pivot their way through it with grace, precision, and success.