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Corridor Company Spotlight | Grant Company

by Emily McVey | Dec 19, 2018

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Unconventional Grant Company provides communication services to the animal health industry.

It’s 11 degrees in southeast Idaho. The nearby mountains are covered with fresh snow. And Eric Grant is setting up his cameras to begin a day of shooting on a generations-old dairy farm.

He’s been doing this kind of work for 33 years, first as a magazine feature writer, then as a photographer and videographer. His travels have taken him to every backcountry corner of the country, telling agriculture’s story through words and images.

This morning, as the snow creaks beneath his boots, he quips: “Feet are a photographer’s best friend. You’ve got to keep moving to see the light.”

Two years ago, Grant’s feet moved in a significant way. He walked away from a career at the American Angus Association (AAA), where he’d worked for a decade heading up its communications and advertising programs. He wanted to launch his own company, appropriately named Grant Company, which he did in his Saint Joseph, Mo., living room.

He quickly assembled some of the most talented writers and creatives he’d known and charted a course to build a business by providing communications and advertising support for companies around the world.

“It was probably the biggest sales job of my life,” he says. “I had to simultaneously convince prospective clients that I had the capabilities to do the work, and convince prospective team members that I had enough business to make this a good career move.”

At the heart of it all, he knew he had to have the right people, and that good people would not only attract business but allow the company to build. In assembling his team, Grant wanted to combine the best of both the consumer and livestock worlds.

Bart Ashford, the company’s creative director, worked on brands like McDonald’s, Walmart and PetSmart. Crystal Albers and Jena McRell, the company’s key communications people, anchored the effort with foundational expertise in livestock production.

They were joined by Jeff Meyer, an Emmy Award-winning television producer who’d spent the previous five years with the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos, and Derrick Collins, who had owned and operated his own film production company in Virginia.

“The media environment is always changing,” Grant explains, “so we know we have to be nimble and develop opportunities for our clients in new and unexpected ways.”

Grant Company is based on three principles:

First, “it’s not the client’s obligation to pay us to learn about their business,” Grant says. “That’s our obligation, long before we start a project or even write a proposal. We’re not in this to waste someone else’s time or money.”

Second, “we’re about efficiency and results, not unnecessary billable hours, so we’ve structured ourselves differently than traditional business models,” he says. “Our clients work directly with those who do the work for them. We don’t put unnecessary people in the middle of the process.”

Third, “our process is different because we focus on building assets for the client – photos, words, and video – that allow them to move into multiple media platforms efficiently and quickly,” Grant explains. “We call it ‘hay in the barn,’ because the real value is not just the message but having the assets in place that allow you to convey that message into the marketplace.

“Most companies do it the opposite way; they gather in a meeting room, decide what their message is going to be, but lack the assets to move it forward,” he says. “That’s a costly way of doing things. Getting boots on the ground, and working directly with customers through a camera, can lead you into a message that resonates with your audience and gives you the assets to do so at the same time.”

Today, the company provides communications services for about 30 clients around the globe. Among them are long-established brands like Holstein Association USA, Merck Animal Health and Kent Nutrition Group. The company has also expanded into unexpected consumer markets and now provides services for companies as far away as Australia, Brazil, and Great Britain.

The ability to transition between consumers and livestock has also helped Grant Company provide communications support for the One Health Initiative, an effort led by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture and Merck Animal Health, educating both consumers and livestock producers about antimicrobial resistance.

“One of the great things has been our decision to locate within the KC Animal Health Corridor because it offers us the ability to network with companies that share our values, and to grow business at the same time,” says Grant. “In the worldwide marketplace, there is nothing like the KC Animal Health Corridor, and we’re proud to be a part of it.” Grant company is headquartered at Innovation Stockyard, a one-stop business incubator, located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

For more information about Grant Company, visit www.grantcompany.net.

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