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New downtown marketing firm opens with focus on local businesses, branding

The Glass City’s newest marketing firm wants to sell your local company branded merchandise and help it grow.

Jim Walrod opened Front Door Marketing in January after a 14-year career at The Image Group where he developed his expertise in business-to-business marketing and branded merchandise.

Front Door is a full-service promotional company with a personal touch, said Mr. Walrod. He attempts to find the right promotional products for each client.

Branded merchandise refers to the pens, hats, and other small items companies of all types and sizes often give away to their clients to promote the company. Recently, the market has expanded to include face masks and other types of PPE in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I can’t really express how excited we are to be on this journey. If we can make it through a global pandemic, we can make it through anything,” Mr. Walrod said. “I just turned 37 so I feel like I have started the second marathon of my career and I am really excited to be a part of the growth of Toledo.”

After meeting The Image Group President Jon Levine when he was an intern at the Marathon Classic, Mr. Walrod embarked on a decorated career at the Holland-based marketing group. In eight of his 14 years at The Image Group, Mr. Walrod led the company in sales. Annually, he surpassed an average of $3 million in sales in his role as the National Account Team Leader, according to a Front Door press release.

A Toledo native, Mr. Walrod graduated from St. Francis de Sale High School in 2001 and nearby Siena Heights University in 2005. He has stayed in the Toledo area since graduation, networking within the business community and serving on local boards.

“He would rather gain you as a friend and gain your trust before he sells you anything, because anybody can just walk in and drop a bunch of widgets, t-shirts, and pencils on your desk and say, ‘Here is the price’. That’s not a relationship,” former EPIC Toledo council member and current Wurtec employee Stephen Vasquez said. “What he focuses on is making the relationship more than just transactional, making it actually personal.”

Mr. Walrod is well-known in the Toledo business community for his work with EPIC Toledo. Started by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, EPIC was founded as a networking organization for young professionals. Mr. Walrod has been a part of the organization from the start and for a time served as the board president. Mr. Vasquez said he was such a good leader for the organization because he did not get caught up in the minutiae and had a vision for growth.

Mr. Walrod has also served on the boards of Leadership Toledo, The United Way of Greater Toledo, Junior Achievement, and the TRCC.

Currently, though, Mr. Walrod is the incoming board president of the Toledo Clinic Foundation.

“He wants to see the foundation be successful. He wants to see it grow so we can help more people,” said BJ Fischer, secretary of the board and fellow marketing professional. “He’s really been leading the way in terms of helping us develop new ways to raise money in a way that can deepen our impact…He has this mindset of if he’s going to do it, he’s going to make a true difference.”

The Foundation helps cancer patients at the Toledo Clinic to pay their non-medical bills that often go unpaid when patients undergo expensive cancer treatments. Mr. Walrod’s sales experience and thick skin for rejection has helped the Foundation activate new donors, said Mr. Fischer.

Adam Davenport, another early EPIC member and a childhood friend of Mr. Walrod, said that Front Door would succeed because Mr. Walrod is a “go-getter” who “will do whatever it takes” to make sure his business grows. He added that Mr. Walrod understands his market and “knows what sells.”

As of now, Mr. Walrod, one other employee, and an intern work out of an office in downtown Toledo’s Warehouse District at 407 Washington Street. Mr. Walrod said he has always wanted to center his business in downtown after working in Holland for so many years. As of now, 90 percent of Front Door’s clients are based in the Toledo area, said Mr. Walrod.

The coronavirus pandemic forced Front Door to sell PPE and face masks and slowed its business, but it was not crippling. Mr. Walrod reported that business was starting back up slowly.

As for the future of Front Door, Mr. Walrod believes it will be easy to scale up the company thanks to his wide network of Glass City professionals. He also wants to provide opportunities for young professionals to get their start in marketing through Front Door, just like the start he received from Mr. Levine at The Image Group when he was fresh out of college.


Posted By: Toledo Blade on June 25, 2020.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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