Crack open a beer, grind on the skate ramp and watch a little boxing on the flat screen. At design and advertising shop Super Top Secret, it’s just another day on the job. Of course, the founding partners of this Salt Lake firm—including Ryan Martindale and Ryan Potter—bust it out on the project front, too, often working well after the standard quitting time.
“We wanted to build something that Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would want,” says Martindale. “We wanted a cool scene where people want to be. We’re super picky about who we hire, but once we find them, we try to be good to them.”
In the two years since launching STS, Potter, Martindale and partners Jared Strain, Rheda Fouad and Aaron Sather have used their industry know-how to build a roster of clients that includes Nokia, Target, K2 and Burton. Now, they’re zoning in on expanding the national advertising arm and snagging more local clients, which already include Powder Mountain and Ski Utah. “We’ll never be the size where we would compete with shops that have 5,000 people,” Potter says, explaining that many STS projects are spin-offs of mega campaigns commissioned by bigger players in New York and L.A. “We’d like to stay interactive-focused but have identified cool, smaller national brands we’re going to go after.”
While other, more buttoned-up employers might see a skateboard ramp and a “kegerator”—a fridge and a full-sized beer keg—as distractions, leadership at STS sees it as motivational and has worked to create a space where they get the most out of their staff of 25, many of whom have worked at large, national agencies. “We have people from all over the world here,” Martindale says. “They could go wherever they want, but they want to be close to the mountains. We try to be flexible so people can build a schedule around that.”