Offit Kurman and Citybizlist would like to congratulate the 2015 finalists nominated for the Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in Maryland. Comprised of the region’s outstanding and innovative business leaders, this diverse group of entrepreneurs represents the state’s present and future. Winners will be announced at gala event Thursday, June 25, 2015 at The Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.
Growing along with clients’ brands through reliable planning, strategic insight, and seasoned leadership
Thad Bench is the president and creative director of Benchworks, a marketing and branding firm located in Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Benchworks provides creative services, PR, product launch, production, and other support solutions to clients ranging from mid-sized organizations to Fortune 500 companies. Occupying 44,000 square feet of warehouse and fulfillment space, Benchworks is able to meet the various needs of billion-dollar brands, and is among the top 1% of marketing firms nationally in terms of revenue. The agency’s clients include Chrysler, Aramark, Pfizer, popchips, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Q. How do you feel being nominated for the EY award?
THAD BENCH: It’s a great honor to be nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award. We are really happy about that. This is actually an award as an organization we’ve applied for a number of times and we’ve never gotten this far because it’s hard. So while my name is on it—”entrepreneur of the year Thad Bench,” that’s wonderful and I’m very gratified by that—it really is a reflection of the people I work with. We have a tremendous team and they’ve worked very, very diligently. So this a real win for the organization and I’ve also met some fantastic people through the program, the other finalists are all tip-top, so we are really gratified by it.
Q. You’re surrounded by farmland. You and your team initially worked out of a barn, where you still have meetings. What drew you to this unique location, and what keeps you there?
A. I have an adage: “If your life was a book, would anybody want to read it?” I’ve lived in Annapolis for over 20 years with my wife Renee. I got the wild idea, “Let’s move to the Eastern Shore by making Century House on a farm and live there for a while.” Our kids were young and my wife is a great sport, so we went for it. At that point we only had a handful of employees. So, on this farm that we acquired north of Chestertown called Worth’s Folly, there was an old dairy operation. We decided to convert the dairy operation, the milking parlor, into offices. Chestertown has also actually proven to be a terrific place as far as finding highly qualified talent—it seems odd being in a remote area like that, but there are a lot of highly motivated, wonderful people that want to live on the Eastern Shore, but where do they work? Benchworksprovides an opportunity for them to have great careers, work with publicly traded companies, but also live in a rural place.
Q. How has your entrepreneurial mindset influenced the company, do you think?
A. I love being an entrepreneur. I love working with entrepreneurs and watching them activate against their commercial goals. One of the things we try to do as an organization is help our clients any way we can. Many times it’s not a billable thing, it’s making an introduction or introducing them to an investor. Anything we can do to help them propel their goals forward—that’s something that is really important at Benchworks. We call it the “concept of graciousness.” I think it’s a competitive advantage because we live in a bare-knuckled world and so when you actually go through the commercial cycle maybe with a little bit of kindness and empathy, I think it really makes you stand out. It’s great for talent retention and acquisition and, frankly, our clients like it.
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