We asked CEO Chris Spiro to pontificate on the challenges he has faced over the past few years. Here’s his response:

Like so many, I have faced per­sonal and professional chal­lenges my entire life. My per­sonal challenges I will keep to myself, but surviving my professional chal­lenges is a story I gladly tell.

I own and operate a small market­ing, advertising and public relations firm that I established in Fort Myers in 1988 as The Spiro Group. For more than 27 years, it has been my goal and the goal of my company to build, hone and maintain brand identity and awareness for all of my clients regard­less of their product or service.

While I have created national mar­keting campaigns for food manufac­turers, biofuel companies, homebuild­ers and others, my local client list is an eclectic collection of those who pro­vide a divergent array of products and services. The common thread for them all is the importance of their brand that distinguishes them from the respective competition.

Building an Award-Winning Team

Over the years I was able to build my company to one of the largest mar­keting firms in Southwest Florida. Through the years, we all enjoyed the rewards of success­ful marketing campaigns that gar­nered numerous honors, including:

  • Hundreds of ADDY awards – the world’s larg­est advertis­ing competi­tion held by the American Advertising Federation.
  • Scores of Pinnacle Awards pre­sented by the Building Industry Asso­ciation (BIA) for marketing, residential design and new-home sales.
  • In 2014, the BIA honored me for the fourth time in my career as the Marketing Representa­tive of the Year.
  • And in April 2015, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast Univer­sity selected me as one of its “Final Four” nominees for its Distinguished Entrepreneur of Southwest Florida for 2015.

By far, the most significant chal­lenge to my professional life and to the life of my company was the market downturn of 2008. Scores of com­panies – including marketing firms – essentially dissolved due to lack of business. I was determined we would survive. While decreasing market values forced a staff reduction to no more than seven, I was able to keep our doors open with the help of fam­ily members, remaining staff and loyal clients fighting to stay in business.

I am proud of my entrepreneurial spirit that drives me to overcome di­versity and challenges. That spirit de­rives from my youth as the second of four children raised in a broken fam­ily. I learned two truths early in life:

  1. Don’t ask “why?” but rather “why not?”
  2. if you want it done your way, do it yourself. With maturity, I have since learned it is more effective to get it done with the help of others who share similar goals.

With the market now in rebound, the agency has revised its business prac­tices in some ways by keeping a closer watch on our finances and monitoring economic indicators. Over the past several years, there has been a slow but steady increase in the client ranks and agency staffing. As always, we stand ready to face the challenges and to enjoy the successes ahead.