Grayson Lafrenz peers into his laptop. The 34-year-old CEO is poring over figures in his office. A few feet away from his open glass door, a brown Labrador Retriever named Lola sleeps on the cool, laminate floor as Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” gently plays in the background.
Lafrenz is wearing a maroon T-shirt and ripped jeans. Employees at Power Digital Marketing — the vast majority of them in their 30s or younger — are dressed much the same way. Baseball caps abound.
But don’t be fooled. The attire may be casual but the vibe suggests something different: There’s work going on here.
“You see that little wall curve right there?” Lafrenz said, talking about the company’s early days in late 2012. “That was the wall. We actually had two hockey nets in here. I think there was about 12 of us in the office and we were thinking, we’re never going to grow into this place. And now we’ve expanded six times since we’ve been in here.”
A data-driven agency with an office in Old Town, Power Digital helps companies enhance revenue by boosting their digital marketing services in things like web development, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, e-commerce sales and social media. Power Digital has worked with brands such as Sycuan Casino Resort, Berkshire Hathaway real estate and Jenny Craig.
“We act as an extension of their team because most of the brands, they can’t get the level of technical expertise in marketing in-house,” LaFrenz said. “We are that extension that brings strategy to them and then helps them drive revenue.”
From its modest early days, Power Digital has steadily grown each year, with 2019 being especially notable.
In January, the company secured an investment deal from Periscope Equity, a private firm based in Chicago, that helped accelerate business opportunities. And in October, Power Digital capitalized on one of those opportunities by acquiring the marketing and SEO agency Factorial, a company with offices in New York and South Carolina.
The addition, Lafrenz said, will bring Power Digital’s workforce to more than 100 employees.
In 2018, Power Digital posted $14.2 million in revenue and year-over-year growth of 24.1 percent.
“We’ve got a growth mindset culture,” Lafrenz said. “Everybody is focused around getting better, improving and learning new things.”
And part of the culture is the non-traditional dress code.
“If we’re going into a client meeting and they’re very formal and we’re going to their office, we will dress to it,” Lafrenz said. “But why wear a suit and tie, right? Does that make somebody perform better or happier? I know for me, I used to have to do that and I dreaded it. When I feel comfortable and I feel good, I am happier and perform better.
“For us, talent is everything and we need to attract, recruit, retain and develop the best talent. And I think most people don’t want to have to wear a suit to work or dress up. Most people would rather dress in a way that represents who they are.”
Power Digital’s management style is similar. There is no hard and fast, set time schedule for employees.
“People can kind of come when they want and they can go when they want,” said Lafrenz, who was born and raised in La Jolla. “There’s no set hours, necessarily. And we really haven’t had anybody abuse that too much. I think we’ve had some incidents where there has to be a little bit of a redirect that occurs. But I think everyone’s a professional and everyone’s running their book of business. That’s who we want here. And if someone’s a person that’s going to abuse that and not do it, then they’re not the right cultural fit for us anyway. So they’ll kind of get weeded out.”
Power Digital encourages employees to seek out talented friends and acquaintances to apply for jobs within the company. Team members who tap a successful job applicant get paid a referral fee.
“This is a results-oriented company,” Lafrenz said. “There’s different paths to get the result. What works for one person is different than another. For me, by the time 4 p.m comes around, I’m not on my game. I’m on it in the morning so I like to get in early and I get a ton done. But that’s not everyone else’s peak time. They need to dictate that, be mature enough to do that and be at their best. And so we give people the ability to do that.”
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