Engine is Red opens an official office; 'they took a little bit of a risk'

[caption id="attachment_20146" align="alignright" width="324" caption="Tyler Hammond, Dan Sartin, Andrea Helve and Chris Denny"][/caption]

NORTH BAY – The Engine is Red, a boutique marketing firm in Santa Rosa, recently moved out of a backyard and into a 1,600-square-foot office on Fifth Street in downtown Santa Rosa.

“We outgrew the garage and had to move outside,” said Chris Denny, co-founder of the company.

And after one year, 13 more clients and at four times the size, it was time to move indoors.

Though already working on some national accounts, the young entrepreneurs — Mr. Denny is 27 and partner Dan Sartin is 26 — realize that being a young company in this economic environment may give them local opportunities they would not have otherwise.

“Frankly,” said Mr. Denny, “the recession has helped us.”

He said companies that have cut their advertizing and marketing budgets that they normally would not get the chance to talk to are making use of smaller firms.

And for some younger clients, like Pocket Radar, a Santa Rosa-based technology company that is launching its product this month and may not have a huge marketing budget, it is a boon.

“We have a profit-share option for clients we believe in,” said Mr. Sartin. “We are investing and making a bond and a trust that we are dedicated to making their company better.”

In Pocket Radar’s case, it put some cash down and paid the rest after realizing a profit.

Steve Goody is the chief executive officer of Pocket Radar. The device, a smaller version of the radar devices now on the market, launches this month on Amazon. Pocket Radar's Web site received the Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice award at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

“Chris and Denny helped us do our entire show. They have been great to work with and have been essentially a partner,” he said. “They took a little bit of a risk with us,” he said.

Mr. Denny looks at it the same way from his end.

“We have three or four clients like this. Everyone is investing because we don’t have the longest track record either. We are only getting paid if they do well. So we have to do our job.”

Mr. Denny and Mr. Sartin have six people in the office and 12 contractors. Some are interns and others work on a project-by-project basis.

They worked together as events and marketing directors with New Vintage Church in Santa Rosa prior to launching the company. Both also served in similar positions with Education Finance Partners, IMU Marketing and Design and Pacific Pulmonary Services.

They like that they are working with more local companies now.

Clients include Chrome Lotus, Invention Planet, Spring Hills Community Church, Spirits in Stone and Mendocino Forests Products Co. LLC.

“It is just as exciting to work on a local level,” said Mr. Denny. “It is great when we can bring work into the community.”

Mr. Denny expects it could grow to a $5 million company. Last year it brought in just shy of $400,000.

“We have a great group of people,” he said. “It makes a difference when you are doing what you love.”

And, he said, “We are blessed to work with the best clients. We have done no advertising on ourselves other than building a Web site.”

The Engine offers marketing packages on a one-time or ongoing basis, including Web design, keyword optimization, branding and marketing campaign management.