Click photo to enlarge
Kevin Mullen is the jack-of-all-trades at the Crispin Porter + Bogusky office in Boulder. Mullen works on a bike rack for the Miami office with the help of his son Austin, 15.

BOULDER, Colo. -

The creative minds at Crispin Porter + Bogusky do not limit their wacky ideas to advertising campaigns for Burger King and Volkswagen.

The Boulder firm hired Kevin Mullen simply to "improve the quality of people's lives," he said.

As one of the company's three full-time concierges, Mullen services employees' sporting equipment, including an in-house fleet of snowboards and bicycles. While the company's two other concierges run errands so people don't have to leave their desks, the "extreme concierge" gets employees out from behind their desks.

Dave Kingsbury, a planner who's called a "cognitive anthropologist" at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, said that Mullen is "as critical to CPB as the air we breathe."

Keeping overworked ad agency jocks happy with fun toys is one thing, but Mullen's day can be filled with fixing the broken heel on a pair of high heels, welding bicycle racks onto the boss's KTM Supermoto 950 motorcycle, upholstering furniture and rewiring the building's water heater.

"I never went to college," said Mullen, 46. "Everyone else in this building did, so it's a complementary skill set."

Occasionally, he's also brought on to construct props for photo shoots, like the time some art directors were stumped over how to make a dog look convincingly filthy, without harming it with black paint, the only product on hand. Mullen suggested using activated charcoal, which is harmless.

"The art directors had never heard of this stuff," he chuckled.

He constructed props for one campaign that helped Crispin Porter + Bogusky earn a Clio Award, an international advertising honor.

Mullen went to high school in Miami, with Alex Bogusky, one of the company's partners, and graduated with 300 hours of shop time.

Bogusky took the white-collar route, while Mullen went blue-collar. He trained to become a factory-certified Mercedes mechanic and went on to own a body shop and specialized in custom finishing. Over the years, he's also worked as a metal fabricator, built offshore powerboats and even painted aircraft.

"I painted 16 (Lockheed) C-130 Hercules aircraft for the Israeli military," he said. "They wanted everything -- every hinge, control panel, everything -- painted in camouflage. We had to take the planes apart, paint them, and put them back together. An amazing amount of work."

Mullen eventually settled into a career managing facilities for exclusive golf courses in the Miami area, maintaining fleets of $750,000 worth of mowing equipment, and tackling disparate projects like constructing cart paths and fixing steam showers. His former assistant still calls him to get coaching for tricky repairs.

At Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Mullen is known for being able to fix and make just about anything in his shop, including machining his own tools should he not have the right tool for the job. A plasma cutter, multiple welders and a gas torch litter the shop, along with high-end bicycles and motorcycles.

On Wednesday, he and his 15 year-old son built a new, star-shaped bike rack together for the Factory Rides, a fleet of bikes that employees are free to use on the honor system. Mullen has also consulted on bicycle design for B-Cycles, a nationwide bicycle-sharing program being developed by Crispin Porter + Bogusky in partnership with Trek and Humana.

Motorcycles, though, are Mullen's passion. He's built custom choppers and can't seem to stop himself from modifying and improving every bike he touches. It was motorcycle maintenance that brought him back in touch with Bogusky, whom he "wrenched" for in Miami. When Bogusky moved to Boulder, he couldn't live without his friend's all-encompassing skill set and asked Mullen to join the company.

"CPB is the only place I've ever worked with no time clock," says Mullen, who'd never been west of the Mississippi River before his visit to the Boulder offices in 2006. "Here, no one wants to be the first out the door, but at my other jobs, everyone was gone at 5:01. This is a totally different culture."

A rotating cast of 500 people make use of the airy, 70,000 square-foot building in Gunbarrel, referred to as an "idea factory" -- not an ad agency. The building is outfitted with two fire poles and a red phone booth with a direct line to Domino's Pizza (a client).

According to Crispin Porter + Bogusky spokesman Stephen Sapka, the award-winning agency receives an average of 2,000 resumes a month. The company also has offices in Miami, Los Angeles, Sweden, London and Germany, with about $1 billion in total annual billings.

The company's industrial design department has a $30,000 Dimension Elite 3-D "printer" that makes plastic forms from computer renderings, but Mullen, the Extreme Concierge, can make everything else by hand.

Archived comments

How cute.

Jesus_was_a_socialist

7/3/2009 11:21:58 PM

Dave kingsbury seems to be a goto guy for the daily camera lately.Must be nice to have a guy fix his bike for the bus ride up the canyon

bouldermeister

7/4/2009 6:14:53 AM

How can a paid infomercial be called news?I thought Burger King was losing market share.

CowboyBob

7/4/2009 7:56:11 AM

Interesting that CPB went through a round of layoffs recently but that the concierges all seemed to be spared.Maybe it's because they play a critical role in keeping the other staff there chained to their desks.This information would have given the story an interesting angle... do Camera reporters even read the old Camera clips before writing new stuff?

boulder_mama

7/4/2009 8:09:47 AM

Hey Cowbabyboy, How much did they pay?

fardila@hotmail.com

7/4/2009 10:04:05 AM

It's all about "chained to their desks", as another poster put it.

I'm sure it's a fine place to work, but you start to wonder when the company spends so much time and effort trying to convince the rest of us of this.

KR

7/4/2009 8:48:10 PM

When the CP+B HR person begins an interview with, "If you have any kind of life at all, you don't want to work here," it reminds me of some of the Los Angeles shops in the 80s.

Work 'em hard, burn 'em out early and constantly refresh the crew. Hard churn and brutal conditions. A year spent will look good on the resume. New people = new ideas.

But the eight hour day grew out of more than union demands. Beyond eight hours, the quality of a human's contribution tends to decrease, and those who work longer rarely are working smarter or better.

For it would have to be a dangerously fatigued and exhausted group of creatives, who could ever conceive, that Jerry Seinfeld could possible make a PC seem cooler than a Mac.

donwrege

7/4/2009 9:23:39 PM

Burger King is the very last place that I think about for fast food. #1 because their food is terrible. #2 because of their commercials. Every time I see that creepy King I think of party clowns and we all know the rep those guys have. Here's an "idea" for you CPG: why don't you have BK focus on better food and value. I work across the street from the Wendy's in Boulder, and I'd say the steady stream of cars going thru their drive thru is indicative of what works. It's called "research" CPG...

jkw2911

7/5/2009 8:40:05 AM

Not that it has anything to do with the article but I think the VW campaign could be improved. Scrapped, actually. I could do better.

inmyriver

7/6/2009 10:37:32 AM

Re: jkw2911

Funny you should criticize Crispin Porter & Bogusky for their lack of research, since you referred to them twice incorrectly as "CPG" - take your own advice, maybe? Bogusky starts with a B.

ak

7/6/2009 3:41:45 PM

You people are funny !

Thanks for the laughs.

The_Merry_Prankster

7/6/2009 6:55:53 PM

This article was COOL!Here's a person with many talents, working hard, and all some of you want to do is criticize. Boulder has so many unique people doing interesting jobs, and I think the Camera should be applauded for showcasing our local talent. You people only WISH you had the talent. Yeah, CPB'ers work hard but hey, there's other work out there so they don't have to take the job if they don't want it.

I don't know anyone in any job that doesn't work harder these days.

mzfit

7/19/2009 10:03:56 AM