Rocking The Brand Image

Maverik's Create Department designs most of the chain's advertising and marketing programs

For many, becoming their own boss is the final frontier. They never return to the corporate world. But Ernie Harker, executive director of Create, Maverik's marketing department, took the opposite route. The married father of four founded his own marketing and production studio in 1995, and then decided to take on his current role at the convenience store retailer nearly two years ago.

"In 1999, I met Brad Call through a client of mine," Harker recalled. "Brad had just been appointed as the vice president at Maverik. He was doing some advertising and I helped him to introduce a television marketing campaign."

Harker worked with Call for the next 11 years to develop new marketing campaigns. And after 15 years running his own company, he decided to pursue new interests. Luckily, in 2010, Maverik had a job opening for its marketing executive director position. From there, Harker contacted Call about the job and said "the rest is history."

Harker has three people who directly report to him at Maverik. His department comprises eight full-time employees and two part-time staffers. The Create department designs most of Maverik's advertising and marketing materials in-house.

In order to accomplish all of his tasks, Harker wakes up about 6 a.m. and quickly takes on an exercise routine because he needs to get his blood flowing. Once his workout is complete, he arrives at Maverik about 8:30 a.m. and reviews his to-do list on his Apple iPad. Subsequently, he prefers to get a couple of projects completed before checking his e-mail.

"E-mail tends to be a time trap," he remarked. "I want to make sure I get a couple of things done and don't get distracted."

Later in the morning, Harker does check his e-mails. But before he does, he checks in with his co-workers to find out what challenges they are facing and attempts to provide solutions. This includes approving outside resources for a particular task or assisting with project prioritization.

The Create department is tasked with creating marketing materials for a different event every week. As for ongoing projects, Harker has been working on Maverik's Adventure Club Card loyalty program and the c-store chain's mobile application (app).

Regarding the loyalty program, the Create department's primary goal is to maintain Maverik's core brand and image. "Often, when you're in the thick of things, it's easy to compromise and cut corners," Harker relayed. "I'm there to make sure we don't cut any corners."He also finds time to report to Call, whom he refers to as a great friend and boss. "Brad is very important to me. He's been very good to me for the 13 years I've known him," he noted.

The marketing director, who often leaves his office after 6 p.m., added that he loves the autonomy and "deep thinking" the c-store chain encourages. "We can think freely and push really big initiatives," said Harker. "That's fun."

Looking back on his decision to leave his company and reenter the corporate world, Harker feels he clearly made the right decision. He enthusiastically reeled off three words that best describe his job: diverse, challenging and exciting.

"It's a great place to work," Harker concluded. "You haven't seen anything yet. We're going to rock the world."

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