Partnering with your partner

Life has a funny way of traveling full circle.

Jeanne and Robert Maddox, owners of Maddox Marketing Group Inc., experienced one of those circular events recently when they met Steve Wozniak, founder of Apple Computers, at an induction ceremony at Inventure Place.

The two were able to thank Wozniak personally for his role in the founding of their company 10 years ago — the Maddoxes had purchased Apple Computer stock in the early 1980s and used the proceeds from its sale to finance the start-up of their marketing communications firm.

The couple met while attending Ohio University. He was a radio and television management major and she was studying public relations and advertising. Each worked for large organizations in marketing, public relations and management before they formed their own company. However, Jeanne Maddox didn’t become fully involved with the business until after its first year.

“When we started the business, our youngest child was 7 months old,” says Maddox.

At the time, the Maddoxes’ other children were 5 and 7 years old. She started copywriting for clients on a part-time basis, but the demands of the growing business soon took her to full time.

“We’ve always had a really open and honest relationship with our kids,” Maddox says. “I think the kids are proud of us.”

Many family-owned businesses struggle with the demands of a growing company, family obligations and personal goals. And while partnering in a business with a spouse can strain a relationship, Maddox points out the positive aspects of running a company with her husband.

“Our relationship was strong before we came into this,” she says. “There are times when you don’t want to talk about the business. If somebody is stressed, you need to be sensitive to it. We could probably talk about business night and day — there’s no stop to it. But, maybe that’s what allows us to be so coherent.

“We are two very individual people with individual styles. We treat each other with respect at all times and we’re equals.”

Maddox’s role in the company includes developing new business and working with clients, often leading the strategic direction and creative processes of accounts.

“I guess I’m the face of Maddox Marketing Group. I’m out in the community and try to stay involved … and still come home and make dinner.”

Whether it’s called multitasking, balancing or juggling, business leaders are often pulled in many different directions. Maddox recalls cancelling vacations because of the demands of various projects.

“You just have to learn to go with the flow,” she says. “Because you’re a small business, it can be an advantage because you’re nimble, but you can also be vulnerable. I try to keep a balance between family and work. In the process of all of this, your individuality can get swallowed very easily because you’re giving to your business, the community, your family, but you have to remember yourself, too.”

Maddox now heads the Maddox Marketing Group as its president. Her husband, Rob, oversees the company’s two new divisions, imaddox and the studiomaddox.

“Our vision for Maddox Marketing Group was to serve as a full relationship partner with companies, putting together marketing plans, strategizing about how to position, how to brand, media planning and placement, and included any and all marketing tools,” says Maddox. “What we’ve found is that a lot of companies would like to use our creative services but not necessarily a full relationship.”

Studiomaddox offers a full a la carte menu of creative projects, ranging from concept development to multimedia presentations. Imaddox offers services, such as Web site design, to help companies meet Internet and e-business objectives.

Formerly located in downtown Akron, Maddox Marketing Group moved to the Powerhouse on the Water’s Edge building in downtown Cuyahoga Falls before opening its new subsidiaries. The new building was constructed around the remains of a hydroelectric plant built in 1913.

Located above LeFever’s River Grille, the space features four balconies overlooking the waterfalls. The interior incorporates an open floor plan and includes a digital video and Web production suite.

As a result of the move and the new divisions, the firm expects to add as many as five full-time positions to the collective staff by year-end.

“We’re building the business for our family, but we’re not building this business in hopes that our children will want to take it over. We want our employees to be a part of it.” How to reach: Maddox Marketing Group Inc., (800) 949-5208