Service winner: Callahan Creek Inc.

When the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce gave Callahan Creek Inc. the nod last October for its Excellence in Commerce Award in the Service category, Cindy Maude didn’t see it coming.

“I was actually quite surprised that we got it. There were other really great companies (being considered for the award) along with us. It was a very nice honor to receive it and be recognized as a Lawrence business,” said Cindy Maude, president and CEO of Callahan Creek, 805 N.H.

The honor from the Lawrence chamber is just one indication of the many good things that are going on at the agency, which moved here from Topeka in 1999.

Though Callahan Creek doesn’t have a New York, Los Angeles or Chicago address, that hasn’t stopped the firm from making a big name for itself – both in Lawrence and beyond.

In November 2005, the agency announced that it had purchased CHRW Advertising, of Kansas City, Mo. The purchase gave Callahan Creek five new employees and a list of clients that includes Boulevard Brewing Co., Indigo Wild, American Century Investments, The Roasterie and LaserCycle.

The deal also gives Callahan Creek access to office space alongside Emfluence, an interactive services company in downtown Kansas City that remains owned by CHRW’s partners.

In December 2005, Callahan Creek announced that it is the new full-service advertising and marketing agency for CommunityAmerica Credit Union. It will handle print, television and radio advertising for the Lenexa-based credit union, plus provide printed materials for use inside CommunityAmerica locations and for direct-mail marketing.

Cindy Maude

But perhaps the biggest news emerged from Callahan Creek in January 2006, when it disclosed that it has opened a West Coast office so that it can keep up with its newest client: Toyota Motor Sales.

Callahan Creek opened the office at the Toyota Motor Sales national headquarters in Torrance, Calif., where the firm expects to have a staff of 12 employees, including two who already have relocated to the site from Lawrence.

The firm will handle “internal graphics” for Toyota. Employees in Torrance will handle daily management of the account, while the bulk of creative work will be handled out of the Lawrence office.

The news that Callahan Creek added Toyota – the world’s second-largest automaker – to its client list provides more confirmation that the firm is building a national reputation. Yet it continues to focus on the Lawrence community.

The agency contributes 10 percent of its profit to public services and designates a given number of hours per year for pro bono work.

Each associate is given – and encouraged to use – 12 hours of paid leave per year to do volunteer work. Staff members have worked with the United Way, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Lawrence Humane Society.