New Agency Traction Launches with Creative Problem SolvingBy Jane Whitttington on September 27th, 2017 /
Cameron Gnass, founder of Traction, says that his company can best be described as a group of creative problem solvers who bring their clients’ stories to life.
Gnass established his company (which has had a few different names over the years) in 1995 when he was only 19 years old. Realizing that college wasn’t the best place for him to learn, he ventured out into the real world and started making things happen. A long-time interest and aptitude in design led to his decision to work with companies to help them put the best face on their businesses and maximize their success by making not just a good first impression but building on that initial response.
Gnass says, “I grew up in a household where I was basically told that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I was willing to work hard and put in the effort. I worked at many different jobs starting when I was very young and learned valuable lessons at every job I ever held.”
He continues, “In high school, I designed our high school year book, and the project was so successful that we won a national design award. I knew that I wanted to do build a career where I could be creative and one in which I was in charge of the destiny of the company.”
Gnass started out by offering his design services as a freelancer. While this didn’t work out quite as he had hoped, he finally was contracted by a printing company to design a postcard on behalf of a pizza restaurant. He’s happy to report that the restaurant is still his client to this day.
Gnass says, “I knew that as I drove down the street and looked at signs for stores that had really bad design, I always felt like they could do better if they could represent their business better. I’ve heard the saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but in fact we all do. In the first five seconds, we decide whether something is worth a second look.”
He continues, “I felt like I could help businesses reposition themselves in the marketplace. I could help them tell a better story about who they were. I had the desire and the skill to help businesses brand themselves more positively and more effectively. And what I didn’t know, I learned. I’ve always felt it is important to never stop learning and to always be curious about everything.”
Today, the company has seven employees, which Gnass feels is the right number. His employees tend to stay with him for a long time, and he says he never wants to go over ten and plans to keep the staff small by choice.
The services they provide for their clients can include websites, brochures, logos, posters, interactive media, advertising materials, and other forms of communication.
The building Traction occupies is on East Michigan Street, just down from the Capitol Building in Lansing. Gnass has renovated, rehabbed, and restored an old building for Traction. An open layout facilitates collaboration, and, while each employee has his or her own area of expertise, they work together on most projects, bouncing ideas off one another in order to come up with the most creative solutions for each client.
Traction’s list of clients is impressive and growing more so every day. Included in that list are businesses and organizations like Preuss Pets, Lake Trust Credit Union, Lansing Symphony Orchestra, Lansing Schools Education Association, and many others in the area. Their reach extends beyond Lansing, and they are developing relationships with organizations throughout the United States. It should be noted that they regularly receive awards for their design expertise and branding savvy.
It’s important for Gnass and his team to work at making their community a good place to work and live, and Gnass leads by example. He serves on several boards, was key to establishing the Capital City Film Festival, helped bring TedX and Ignite to Lansing, and coached soccer for several years—and these just a few of his community-enhancing activities. In addition, Traction offers pro-bono services to non-profits in the region.
One business doesn’t seem to be enough for Gnass, and he has branched out to other ventures. As part of the renovations in Traction’s current facility, he had residential loft space built on the second floor, purchased the adjacent building for retail and residential space and has developed other residential properties. As part of his real estate interests, he has developed an app, Rentr, to bring together renters and owners.
Gnass has proven his expertise as an entrepreneur and offers advice for those just beginning the start-up journey. He says, “Don’t ever be afraid to make mistakes. Build on failure to create success by learning better, different ways to do things. Be curious. And, most important of all, surround yourself with people who are as passionate as you are about the business. Hiring and working with smart people is the most important thing you can do to guarantee success.”
For more information about Traction, visit their website at www.projecttraction.com