I Led My Company Astray. And Was Rewarded for It

According to the staff at the Bark Magazine, one of the most dog-friendly places is sitting right here in your backyard! Kolbeco, the marketing company where I work, was recognized last year in an annual magazine feature. While this recognition was reaffirming for us, it was only the latest nod in what has been a seven year journey. Even before I started working here, Kolbeco was a company that strayed away from a need to conform. But what they didn’t know after I started is that I would redefine the word “stray.” And that this new definition would have a huge impact on the company culture.

There are two things that run in my family – art and animals. As a kid, I picked up and cared for stray animals constantly. My mother was always the supporter of this habit, and my poor father would get railroaded by the two of us. Most of the time, he would win, but sometimes the found creature would become a new part of our family.

My natural artistic ability and need to saves the lives of unwanted animals stayed with me into my adult life. I followed a career as a graphic designer, and I found fulfillment and purpose when I joined Stray Rescue of St. Louis. I adopted Scarlett in May of 2006 and began volunteering and fostering at Stray Rescue in May of 2007. I specifically enjoy taking emaciated, sick or injured animals cast aside and watching them blossom as they recover. It brings me incredible joy to see these dogs come back to life and then get to help them on their journey by finding an amazing home to live out their lives.

Soon after I started fostering animals, it was time for me to start looking for a new professional opportunity, and I began the interviewing process. I came upon a smaller agency in St. Charles County that, although would be a major commute, was very promising. Upon reaching my interview destination, I discovered just how long the commute would be and worried it would be too long for my dog Scarlett to go without a potty break. But I remained hopeful somehow it would workout. During the interview, I discovered Lauren and Scott Kolbe and I had some things in common – a love for marketing, the “f” bomb and dogs! They could see my passion for Scarlett and how much she meant to me.

And they did not hesitate to allow me to bring her into work with me. The rest is history. What first started by allowing me to bring my pitbull to work daily has sparked true purpose and created a positive impact in the workplace. Our dogs aren’t a once-a-week opportunity or an employee-handbook program – they’re a crucial part of the culture.

Erin and Lauren Dogs Why bring the dogs? Because beyond the obvious perk to having pets at the office – lower stress, happy moods, and a higher engagement level – the dogs at Kolbeco serve many purposes: creating an ice breaker for new clients, taking the edge off with some afternoon and added security (if you consider wagging tails and barked greetings a deterrent to intruders).

In addition to the natural social engagement they provide, our dogs have a job. Inspired by their backgrounds, many of which came from local shelters, a Kolbeco “Board of Dogrectors” was put in place, starting a company-wide initiative to help stray animals in need. As part of our dog movement, I initiated a dream of mine. A donation drive to help Stray Rescue of St. Louis obtain much needed supplies and donations to help offset the cost to take in and medically help all the dogs. Thus Frills For Furbabies was born, and it is backed by Kolbeco, clients, friends and families. The mission is to make the difference in the life of a stray animal, and now each year, Frills and its partners collect much needed supplies and monetary donations for the shelter to help dogs in need. It is a very rewarding experience and has created a sense of purpose for the Kolbeco dogs.

Over the last five years, Frills For Furbabies has raised over $30,000 in supplies and monetary donations for Stray Rescue of St. Louis, and continues to grow! (Visit www.FrillsForFurbabies.com for more information).

The commitment to dogs does not just stop with me. Scott Kolbe volunteers his time taking shelter dogs on enrichment hikes, as well as sits on the Board of Directors at Five Acres Animal Shelter in St. Charles, MO. Scott and I also lend a hand with marketing, PR, and design assistance to Five Acres to help offset the cost for them to hire a professional, thus keeping the money where it is needed most – with the animals.

Dogs are not just a smart marketing move. We don’t have animals in the office just because we like to win awards. Dogs are a key part of Kolbeco. The fast pace of our industry can be stressful, but dogs help keep us grounded and relatively sane. They help us to show up each day as the best versions of ourselves. And, in the end, that’s everything that we can offer.

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