News

The 2017 Recap and Look Ahead

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under News.

As we barrel headfirst into the new year, we wanted to pause to reflect on the dumpster fire year that was 2017. Actually, it was an pretty amazing year here at Spry. Here are some of the high points from the past year and some things we’re most jazzed about in 2018.

SPRY TURNS 7

Spry Digital turned seven years old in April. Does that make us the temperamental child of agency world? Perhaps. Let’s just say that we’ve always been wise beyond our years…

For one thing, a company that is seven years old is still young enough to retain the entrepreneurial, anything-it-takes spirit that inspired us to start a business in the first place, while old enough to have formed a culture, body of work, processes and principles from which to build. Since our start in 2010, we’ve tried lots of things – many of them successful, and more than a few falls resulting in bumps and bruises. Building a digital agency is all about recognizing the lessons in failure. Despite that, we are still the inquisitive types that like to pull things apart and play near outlets. It keeps our curious, problem-solving minds happy when we continue to learn so we can build better products.

On the move. (Photo by RJ Hartbeck)

Seven years in, it certainly feels like we’re moving beyond the awkward growth stage of the business. We’ll continue to be here for our clients and partners, and get on with the business of building relationships, growing our team, and doing good work.

BUILDING CLIENT WORK

In 2017 we continued to work with a stable of clients ranging from large enterprises that serve a global customer base, to nonprofits that are dedicated to making the world around us a better place to live. In 2017, we brought some much-needed focus to our service offerings, developing our capabilities in key areas to meet the demands of larger and more complex projects.

Here are just a few of the projects that we’re most proud of from the past year:

World Chess Hall of Fame

The game of chess has a strong pulse in this country, and its heart beats at the Saint Louis Chess Campus. The vibrant Central West End is the long-standing home of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis and the World Chess Hall of Fame – as well as the Q Boutique and Kingside Diner – where some of the world’s top chess tournaments are held and broadcasted live to a global audience.

Spry has been a digital partner for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center since 2013, building and hosting their website and providing on-site technical support during tournaments.

 

World Chess Hall of Fame Website

The World Chess Hall of Fame website. Launched in 2017.

This past year, we were thrilled to be a part of the successful launch of the new website for The World Chess Hall of Fame. With assistance from long-standing Chess Club partners Arcturis, the new website was designed around promoting the multiple events, programming, and activities that WCHOF provides, while providing an online home for the best players to have ever played the game with the World and U.S. Chess Halls of Fame. Developed on Drupal 7 and CiviCRM, the site helps WCHOF manage and share share the activities of the many donors and constituents across the Saint Louis Chess Campus.

The new website establishes The World Chess Hall of Fame as the premier destination, online and offline, for the game of chess in the United States.

Explore the new World Chess Hall of Fame website.

Altice USA

Having worked with Suddenlink Communications since 2015, some projects under our belt include successfully launching their best-in-class website, Suddenlink.com, and hosting and supporting their “buyflow” application, a custom e-commerce solution that transformed their business. In 2017, our work with this client expanded following the purchase of Suddenlink by Altice, a multinational corporation based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Following the purchase of multiple telecom/cable service providers in the United States, including Suddenlink and Optimum, Altice USA required help merging brands and technology. Spry has been working with the teams at Altice to bring the successful Suddenlink buyflow application to other business units, like Suddenlink Business, Optimum Residential and Optimum Business. In addition, Spry migrated the residential site, Optimum.com, to the Drupal content management system in 2017 (launching in early 2018). In 2018, we will continue working with Altice USA to align their multiple web properties under the Altice brand, while designing and implementing new buyflow solutions across business units.

Randy Burkett Lighting Design

In 2017 we continued to work with small businesses, and one of the most satisfying was the design of the new brand identity and web presence for Randy Burkett Lighting Design. As a leading lighting design firm, RBLD’s work can be seen lighting some of the most prominent buildings, monuments and public spaces in the United States. Reflecting the company’s monumental work is an elegant brand and website that builds upon the firm’s historical assets, showing their work in the best possible light (we know, we know…).

Take a look at the case study for the rebrand and website at rbldi.com.

Gared Holdings

In 2018, we’ll finally be able to share the labor of love that has been our work over the past several months. Our partnership with GARED HOLDINGS will see the redesign and launch of websites for both of their sports equipment brands, Gared Sports and Performance Sports Systems. Along with new web experiences, we are building an entirely new online product catalog that powers the multiple websites and applications, including a new application to help visitors properly equip their environments and recommend product.

The diversity of projects and output of work continues to be a challenge that we embrace, and we can’t wait to show you more work from our shop in 2018!

NEW TEAM MEMBERS

Spry continued to expand our team in 2017. While our numbers didn’t grow by much, our capabilities certainly did. Meet some of the new faces at Spry:

Tony Farhatt

Before joining Spry in February, Tony led teams at some of the top creative and consulting agencies in St. Louis. At Spry, Tony oversees all accounts and projects, keeping internal and client teams on track with high energy and a positive vibe. When he’s not at Spry, you’ll find Tony working on home-improvement projects and travelling with his volleyball club to compete in tournaments.

Kyle Cunningham

Kyle has been developing software since high school. Kyle’s has been the lead developer on higher education sites, using tools like Drupal, Angular.js and Node.js. In his personal life, he has traveled halfway around the world, and he kicks literal ass (along with other parts of the body) with his formal Muay Thai training.

Drew Dunn-Rankin

A native of Southern California and recent graduate from Columbia University in NYC, Drew takes on numerous development-led efforts for Spry Digital. He really is a jack of all trades, so it will be fun to see what new challenges Drew tackles in 2018. He also makes experimental beats when he’s not coding.

Dominic LaFata

Dominic is an information systems student at University of Missouri – St. Louis. Shortly after starting his internship at Spry, we recognized Dominic’s solid analytic skills and technical prowess, and offered him a permanent place on our team. When not taking classes or at Spry, he can be found tossing pizza for the family business, unwinding with his girlfriend or watching Rick and Morty.

Kicking off the week with the Monday all-hands.

In the past week we added Erika Enderling and Dena Rogers to our team. They will be handling accounting and office management responsibilities, respectively. Keep on the lookout for them and all the new faces, as we expect further growth in 2018.

WORTHY MENTIONS

There were many other memories that made 2017 an exciting year. Some of the highlights include:

  • Spry partners Sheila Burkett and Julia Koelsch shared the honor of being named Top Women Business Owners in St. Louis for 2017 by Small Business Monthly.
  • Chief Technology Officer Julia Koelsch was invited to join the technical panel – alongside Amazon Alexa’s global lead Michael Francisco – at AdClubSTL’s 2017 Digital Symposium.
  • Spry hosted a sponsor’s table with our team at the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, where Creative Director Joe Duffin participated on a panel discussing the evolution of content in digital marketing. We’ll be back at our sponsor’s table again this year, and don’t miss Joe’s talk, “Beyond the Tactics: Integrated Marketing Strategy for New Product Launch,“ at this year’s event.
  • Spry organized and hosted DrupalCamp St. Louis, the local conference for Drupal users, and CiviCon, the national conference for CiviCRM users. Both are open source tools we leverage at Spry, so we are passionate about supporting these communities.
  • We continue to provide internship opportunities for young people looking to break into the fields of digital marketing and technology through St. Louis Youth Jobs. It’s a tremendous organization, and we always look forward to working with the talented individuals they send our way.
  • Our agency is proud to mentor young women in technology, and we did so in 2017 at the annual UMSL IS Department’s Women’s Hackathon. We also spoke at the St. Louis chapter of Women in Digital. The trend of women not enrolling in IS and CS programs continues, and so does our commitment to reversing this trend by supporting young women at crucial stages of their development.

Spry’s accomplishments in 2017 would not have been possible without our amazing team, partners and clients. Spry will continue to build even stronger relationships with our commitment to our clients’ success.

November New Team Members

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under News.

Web development is without a doubt a team sport, so we’d like to acknowledge all of the people that make it happen everyday at Spry. While we’re not always perfect as a company, every individual on our team is dedicated to their work and providing successful outcomes.

As we’re nearing the end of 2015, we’d like to highlight some of the new team members that helped make 2015 a success and will no doubt contribute to an even better 2016. Without further ado, here are four additions to the Spry family who you will hopefully get to know over time:

mcdonnell_james_round

James McDonnell

James joined Spry Digital shortly upon graduation from University of Missouri St. Louis, where he received his BA in Anthropology. That study path took James to Greece and allowed him to learn about the human experience and scientific analysis, that includes studying behaviors across the Internet. For Spry Digital, James works directly with clients as a Project Manager to execute on digital strategies and managing support issues. If his name or picture rings a bell, it may be because James curates the “Spry Hive” blog posts, published weekly on Fridays.

Player Stats:

  • Sign: Aries
  • Power animal: Komodo Dragon
  • Personality: Pessimistically optimistic
  • Geeks out with: Computer hardware, anthropology
  • Known for: Man bun
  • Music: Deerhoof, The Dodos, Animal Collective, Aphex Twin
  • Guilty pleasure: Letting phone die

 


Goldstein_Brian_round

Brian Goldstein

Brian comes to Spry Digital after several years in the WordPress and Front-End Development arena. He graduated from University of Missouri in 2007 with a BA in History. Following graduation, an on-the-job near brush with death left him seeking a less dangerous career path. Brian dove into web design and development and has not looked back since. When he is not working on the front end, he is speaking at Wordcamps across the Midwest, contributing to multiple blogs, and coaching junior football.

Player Stats:

  • Power animal: Fox
  • Personality: INFP (Myers-Briggs)
  • Geeks out with: Typography
  • Signature style: Jeans/t-shirt or suited up
  • Music: Explosions In The Sky
  • Famous last words: “I can lift that.”
  • Guilty pleasure: Where to begin?

 


Duffin_Joe_round

Joe Duffin

Our most recent addition to the Spry Digital team, Joe brings 20+ years of experience in providing digital strategy and integrated marketing solutions to clients. At Spry Digital, he will help clients develop their digital strategies and shape their owned and earned media to maximize results. At home, he can be found tinkering in the garage and spending time with his wife and daughter. Whether it be motorcycles or mountain bikes, he’s a fan of anything that goes fast on two wheels!

Player Stats:

  • Sign: Sandwich board
  • Power animal: Raven
  • Personality type: Proxima Nova
  • Geeks out with: Motorcycles, cooking
  • Collector of: Tools
  • Music: Wishbone Ash, Rory Gallagher, Procol Harum, Traffic, Jethro Tull
  • Talks a lot about: My daughter, philosophy

 


burkett_steven_round

Steven Burkett

Steven joins Spry Digital as a Senior Technical Architect. Steven is that rare individual that you can throw any problem at, big or small, and he’ll give you 20 ways to solve it. He picks up new programming languages like the daily paper. His astute math skills means he can assist clients with web products that require more statistical or programmatic logic. When not architecting web solutions, he also assists with Spry’s support and maintenance of our hosting environments. When he’s not coding, he’s building race cars and hurling them around racetracks at blistering speeds.

Player Stats:

  • Power animal: F. Catus
  • Personality type: A–
  • Signature style: height:180cm;background-color:#e4b98e;position:relative;
  • Geeks out with: Algebra and algebraic geometry
  • Collector of: Derelict RX-7s
  • Famous last words: “I drank what?”
  • Guilty pleasure: Arena rock

 


We’re excited to have them join Spry Digital and looking forward to seeing what great things we can build together. Help us in welcoming these new outstanding team members!

Congratulations to the 2014 Arch Grants Entrepreneurs!

Posted by spry & filed under News.

We’re proud of our city. Just ten years ago, St. Louis was criticized by the Council on Competitiveness for “the lack of a fully supportive entrepreneurial culture”.  Many people here took that as a wake up call and decided to do something about it.

A decade later, St. Louis is rapidly gaining a reputation as a city that is conducive to technology startups and supportive of entrepreneurial endeavors.

 

archgrants

 

Today, we want to celebrate and recognize a new batch of entrepreneurs, many of whom are from our region. Local organization, Arch Grants, announced their list of 2014 award winners this morning. Each recipient was selected for an innovative idea that showed promise for business success and real-world benefit – especially for the St. Louis metro area. Out of state recipients are expected to move their business to the St. Louis region as part of their Arch Grants award.

2014’s Arch Grants award class includes:

  • Artifox
  • BetaVersity
  • Blue Line Security Solutions
  • Cast
  • CoMo Medical
  • Dabble
  • Ephecom
  • FreightGrid
  • Greetabl
  • Hyde Expedition
  • Jolt Sensors
  • Less Annoying CRM*
  • Lifepack**
  • Made for Freedom
  • Meter Genius
  • Nanopore Diagnostics
  • Prattle Analytics
  • Tallyfy
  • Tuloko
  • Wondermento

* Peabody Energy Arch Grants winner
** Monsanto Arch Grants winner

While we always know there is room to grow, we are both impressed and inspired by the changes we’ve seen in the last decade. Spry Digital has always believed St. Louis was a great city with brilliant talent. We’re thrilled to be a part of St. Louis’ entrepreneurial Renaissance. In our four years in business, we’ve seen the support of our hometown every day.

Let’s keep our city humming with innovation. Stay fearless and hungry for improvement.

From one entrepreneur to another, our hat’s off to you. Be amazing.

Happy Birthday To Us!

Posted by Ken Moire & filed under News.

This week, Spry Digital LLC is turning four years old. That’s a long time in Web years… and also not so long. It’s certainly long enough to confirm our belief, first discussed almost five years ago with the original founders sitting around a dining room table (with the assistance of red wine as I recall), that there existed a need in St. Louis for a new kind of digital agency. At the time, we envisioned a company that could be a true partner for clients, to help them put their best face forward with strong branding, clear messaging, effective design, and help them leverage open source technologies like WordPress or Drupal, and cloud and SaaS solutions to operate in a more cost-effective and nimble way. A company that understood how all of the pieces of social marketing and interactive development fit together to build custom digital products that helped organizations meet their goals. A company that could build a custom web application from the ground up that brought entrepreneurs’ dreams to life, and then have the know-how with digital marketing to drive customers to it. As it turns out, four years down the road, we were right.

Four years is not so long that we don’t still feel like we’re the new kids on the block. That we are still getting our voice and our legs. We feel the same pressures to be taken seriously, and that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We are still driven by the same urge to move forward, get ahead, build relationships and deliver the best work that we can.

A lot happens over four years though… People start to hear about you. You create a body of work and you build a reputation. You develop a solid and diverse team that help to define your culture — people that enjoy working with each other, get inspired by each other, and have fun creating things. They are right there with you during the high times and the low times. You have a bench of professional partners that you can count on to do good work and are there for you to get you out of a sticky situation. You build trust with customers that understand that you’re not going anywhere, and understand that there’s a team that has their back and can be counted on to do good work. Your processes get honed, your message gets focused, and your skills get better. It’s still hard work, but things get easier.

It’s milestones like a birthday that allow you to reflect on where you’ve gone and what you’ve built. We’re often so focused on creating solutions for others that we don’t pause to enjoy the view from the mountain of knowledge, processes, projects, relationships and reputation that we have built. When we do pause, it’s a truly awe-inspiring view (and humbling experience).

It is a cliche, sure, but businesses are built with people, and you realize that your strength and any success that you have is due to them and quality of those relationships.

We are especially thinking about all of the dedicated entrepreneurs, professionals, and owners that continue to entrust us with their work. You’re the reason why we do what we do and keep us driving to be the best that we can be. We can’t express how much we get from your passion and drive and we want you to know that we will never take you for granted.

So as we take a rare look back, we just wanted to take the chance to say thanks. We know that we wouldn’t have made it this far without your support. We’re very excited about where we can go together and we hope that we’ll continue to be right there with you on the journey.

Sit With Us To Inspire Women in Tech

Posted by spry & filed under News.

This week we had a very special visitor: A chair. More specifically, the Red Chair from Sit With Me, a project of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. The team at Spry Digital took a seat to take a stand to support women in technology. Given that we are a woman-owned technology firm, this cause is very close to our hearts.

Why a red chair?

The red chair is symbolic. When women and men “sit” to take a stand, they validate women in computing and IT and recognize them for the important role they play in creating future technology. The red chair gives all of us a constructive way to show our solidarity and invite others to participate. The bold red color grabs attention and encourages action. By “sitting together” we hold space for an honest conversation and create a platform for online and offline discussions about our challenges and hopes for the future.

Spry Digital with the Red Chair

From Julia Koelsch, Spry Digital Co-founder/Partner:

Technology touches nearly every aspect of modern life today, so it’s critically important that women are creators and leaders in technology. My hope for this project is that women and girls see that interest in technology isn’t unusual, and that they are a valuable part of a growing and supportive community.

From Ken Moire, Spry Digital Co-founder/Partner:

As so much of what we build requires empathy for users, I predict that women will play an even more critical role in architecting, engineering, designing and developing our solutions in the future. I sit to take a stand to encourage young women coming up in the field of computing and IT to stick to it and know that their contributions are important and necessary.

From Sheila Burkett, Spry Digital Co-founder/Partner:

I heard about the Sit With Me project at a National Center for Women in Information Technology event in St. Louis, where I was the keynote speaker. The event recognized five young women from St. Louis area high schools who are interested in IT. As a technology leader, I feel it is critical to encourage diversity on technology teams and to show young women that you can be successful in the IT field.

julia-red-chairken_red_chairsheila-red-chair

We were thrilled to participate in this project because we believe it’s critical for companies like ours to help foster a technology community where women and girls feel empowered to participate. We are here because of the iconoclastic women who proceeded us. Spry Digital is working to ensure the next generation of girls have a seat at the table.

New Year, New Faces

Posted by Julia Koelsch & filed under News.

We are excited to announce that we have added three new members to the Spry team over the past few months! Two new hires, Phil Ecker and Deanna Barnes, and a temporary to full time hire, Ellen Hendricks.

Each person brings a fantastic background and set of skills (not to mention killer personalities) that only add to the strong team that Spry Digital has built to date. We expect great things and we’re already having a blast.

Spry is happy that we’re able to bring in new people that expand what we can offer to our clients, as well as adding a member to our team. We feel that both of these add up to an agency that helps our clients stand out in a digital world.

Please welcome them along with us! Curious to meet the rest of our team? Check us out!

Welcome Spry Developer, Ellen Hendricks!

Posted by spry & filed under News.

Ellen started her professional life as an engineer earning a BS Electrical Engineering degree from University of Missouri – Rolla and a MS Electronic Engineering degree from University Collage, Dublin Ireland. She spent 20+ years as a software engineer working on, among other things, FRA mandated equipment for the railroad industry and the cockpit software for the F-15 and F/A-18 aircraft.  The chance to work on a website for the ACIM council came and it was to be built with Drupal.  And the path was set with some major life changes along the way. In her spare time Ellen likes to read and also serves the St. Louis ACIM community as a member of ACIM council as well as maintaining the website.

  • Sign: Pisces
  • Power Animal: Tiger
  • Personality Type: INFP
  • Geeks out with: Really cool web comics
  • Known for:  Laugh
  • Pop Culture fandoms:  Firefly, Veronica Mars, Avatar the last air bender, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones
  • Favorite Bands:  Crooked Still, Nickle Creek, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Ludwig van Beethoven, Yo-Yo Ma
  • Favorite MMO classe(s):  Rogue, Druid
  • Favorite Movie:  Pitch Perfect
  • Famous last words:  “I’ll try anything once”
  • Guilty Pleasure: trashy romance novels
  • Superhero power: Not judging anyone or anything
  • Cat or Dog: Cat
  • CD, mp3, vinyl: mp3

We’re so glad that Ellen will be helping Spry Digital specializing in Drupal and Support tasks! She’s a rock star to us.

Check out our recent hires and the rest of the Spry team.

Welcome Spry Project Manager, Deanna Barnes!

Posted by spry & filed under News.

We would like to welcome Deanna Barnes as a new Project Manager at Spry Digital. Deanna has spent the last decade working on projects in the digital world with clients like HP, Monsanto, Anheuser-Busch and more. In her role as Project Manager, Deanna will be responsible for leading the day-to-day activities for the project team from project initiation to deployment. When she’s not managing projects she’s chasing after her four year old son William.

Team Player Stats:

  • Sign: Pisces
  • Personality Type: A
  • Geeks out with: Spreadsheets, Books, Faith
  • Known for: Being the glue that holds it all together.
  • Signature style: Jeans + crazy hair
  • Collector of: Disney movies
  • Pop Culture fandom[s]: Sons of Anarchy, Big Bang Theory
  • Favorite bands: Matchbox 20, Katy Perry, TobyMac
  • Talks a lot about: My family
  • Dream vacation: Hawaii
  • Famous last words: Are you kidding me?
  • Guilty pleasure: Boston Cream Doughnuts and romance novels
  • Cat or dog? Dog
  • mp3, CD, vinyl? mp3

Bonus Round:
I come from a large family. My dad is the youngest of 11, my mom the middle of three, I’m number three of four. I have four nieces and six nephews that I love like they were my own.

Check out our recent hires and the rest of the Spry team.

Welcome Spry Web Developer, Phil Ecker!

Posted by spry & filed under News.

Spry Digital welcomes Phil Ecker, as our new Front-End Developer. He’s a pretty rad dude, who definitely hearts technology. He is always exploring new trends in web development, to find new ways to make cool stuff on the interwebs.

Outside of work he’s not much different, although he does enough craft beer and good food. Phil occasionally might tell you to go “Fork Yourself” but don’t worry it’s only because he’s a huge fan of Git.

Team Player Stats:

  • Sign: $
  • Power Animal: Mongoose
  • Personality Type:  A
  • Geeks out with: My Co-workers
  • Known for: “Winning”
  • Signature style:  Jeans + T-shirt + Hoodie
  • Collector of: Foursquare Badges
  • Favorite bands: Capital Cities, Bag Raiders, M83, The Black Keys, The White Stripes
  • Talks a lot about: Git
  • Famous last words: Go Fork Yourself!
  • Guilty pleasure: Salted Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • mp3, CD, vinyl? Pandora

Check out our recent hires and the rest of the Spry team.