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.