Christopher Oldham Named Partner

TWIST Creative Inc. 18.07.17

A Conversation With Connie, Mike & Chris On The Future Of TWIST

We sat down with Chris and TWIST founders, Connie and Mike Ozan, to hear more about the partnership as well as TWIST’s POV on the local industry and its vision for the future.

Q: At what point did you realize you had a keeper with Chris?

Mike Ozan: We’ve known Chris through the design and marketing community well before he joined TWIST in 2004. In fact, we had asked for his design input when we built our first office in Ohio City. From the ground up, Chris has always put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this business – before he was even working for us. He possesses a diverse set of skills and that has helped elevate our processes and product. Moreover, he is determined to help clients advance their business no matter what it takes.


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Q: What attributes does Chris bring to TWIST?

Connie Ozan: Chris is a three-dimensional thinker. While he has a background in graphic design, he specializes in environmental design and is always able to bring that element to the agency and to clients. He’s also a great listener and teacher – both for clients and our staff. He’s an all-around manager, director and creator. Clients like him because he is patient and listens, and is committed to delivering what they need to make their business successful.

Q: What first drew you to TWIST?

Chris Oldham: I had been friends with Connie and Mike when they started their business. I saw their work – great work – and thought “they’re doing some beautiful things there – they are smart and it would be fun to be a part of that.” When it came time for me to make a move, it just seemed very natural for me to talk to them. It just naturally came together.

Q: Were you immediately aligned with Mike and Connie’s approach to marketing/advertising?

Chris: Absolutely. We’ve always been cut from the same cloth – that high attention to detail, beautifully executed work, as well as smart and effective work that makes a big difference to clients.

Q: What affected your decision to offer Chris an ownership opportunity, especially since TWIST is essentially a family business?

Mike: A few reasons. First, he absolutely deserved it. He’s always acted like an owner and worked in the company’s best interest, helping us grown and survive in some of the tough economic times. Second, Chris knows our business historically, he knows the industry, and he has the passion and loyalty we were looking for. And third, we are growing the company. Our intention is to have more people have a piece of the pie and share both the successes and the level of burden that comes with business ownership.

Q: How do you believe you have contributed to the company’s success?

Chris: When I joined there were actually four of us. Being someone who came in with more experience in the industry and doing a wide variety of design type projects – from print to web to environmental – I believe I gave them the confidence to go after the bigger clients. That’s my piece in this – Mike’s a visionary and an idea generator – Connie is a visionary from a design flair point – and I come from a more logistics and execution standpoint. I can make things real where there’s nothing to make them from.

Additionally, I’ve implemented almost all of the systems and way that we move work through the agency. It’s how we come out with good work – following a process through all projects from technology to the executional standpoint. I’m proud of being able to do that to help grow the company.

Q: How do you work out differences you have on an approach?

Connie: Well, we’ve been working together for 12 years now. We just do it – we know what each other’s s values are and we know when a project direction is somehow intruding on the values of an individual. We have developed core values and we always discuss those core values in order to find a solution. We also communicate well with each other. Chris has the ability to navigate through the nuances of working with Mike and me – a married couple. He knows us, and along with his great personality and nature, it works for the three of us.

Q: What is the number one challenge facing Cleveland marketers?

Mike: I think a lot of marketers are actually holding themselves back as they move forward, or “pedaling with the brakes on.” It’s interesting to think how much more successful clients could be if they took bold action communicating from their core.


Q: What’s your approach to this challenge?

Chris: Approaching everything with an open mind so you can truly understand the challenge, the message, and the experience you want someone to have on the other side. Taking the time to be thoughtful about it, in its planning and execution.

Q: What do you feel Cleveland companies really want in an agency?

Chris: Something that cuts through the clutter – that can stand out a bit and break through. Something that doesn’t waste people’s time. I’ve worked with a few clients whom previous agencies labeled as nightmare clients. Once we worked with them, we discovered that they aren’t nightmares at all. They typically have unusually high standards. When we are with them and in front of them, doing what they need, they aren’t so “angry” anymore, and that’s rewarding when you hear that or feel that.

Q: What are you most proud of regarding TWIST?

Connie: The quality of creative work we’ve been able to sustain for 18 years. And we continue to grow and expand without losing sight of why we started the business.

Mike: We have this “we don’t quit until we win” attitude no matter what challenge, adversity or economic climate we find ourselves in. We are who we say we are and we live up to our reputation. I’m also proud of how much impact we’ve had on the city: helping people connect with education, contributing to reducing the high infant mortality rate here, things like that.

Chris: The passion that we put into everything we do. We don’t just let everything go out – we want to challenge clients to see beyond what they think is appropriate – what’s going to really solve their problem. We open their eyes by looking at it from a different angle.

Q: What does the future hold for TWIST?

Connie: We’re making a big effort to evolve. Obviously, the way clients work with agencies continues to evolve and change. The future for TWIST is to continue to deliver the most outstanding work product that is desired and needed by clients who want an agency that is relevant and contributes to their culture and corporation.

Mike: We don’t act in our own self-interest in terms of creative. We’d like to be bigger because we could have more influence, and increase our ability to service bigger accounts. We are ready for national accounts, but we’re still yet to be discovered from many potential clients who could benefit from our approach.

Chris: I know we’re going to build upon the success we have today. It’s going to be bigger clients with more complicated challenges. Technology will always change – so we’ll be continuously asked to do the same thing, but in a different way.

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