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Kudos to Our Three New Vice Presidents
We are happy to announce the promotion of three long-standing members of our Executive Team. Chris Moehn, Erin Bowald and Lori Johnson have all been promoted from Executive Director to Vice President.
In the last 5 years, Simantel has experienced some of our best growth years in the company’s history. Since 2017 alone, our staff has almost doubled in size to 130+ Simantelites, now in 18 different states. Since then, Simantel has launched new service lines, found many efficiencies and added new clients to our roster. While our leadership of the past played a significant role in setting the foundation, managing this growth in a healthy, scalable way is in no small part due to the contributions of Chris, Erin and Lori (along with their fellow Executive Team members).
On the heels of our 40ish anniversary last year, that growth is not expected to slow down for Simantel. And with that comes the need for more Vice President roles within our agency. Anyone who has worked with Chris, Erin or Lori in any capacity, will agree that there are no team members more deserving. And that’s worth shouting from the rooftops… we mean, sharing. Read more about their unique expertise and impactful leadership guidance.
Chris Moehn: Promoted to Vice President
Chris recently celebrated his 35th anniversary at Simantel. He was hired by Jim Simantel himself and was given the designation of employee #008. Chris started as a designer and came up through our creative team. He learned the ropes directly from Jim and our other past owners Kevin McConaghy, Susie Ketterer and Maggie Whalen-Misselhorn — who he credits a lot of his own growth and development to. In 2018, Chris joined our Executive Team when he was promoted to Executive Creative Director. In addition to overseeing traditional creative disciplines like design, art direction, and copywriting, he also oversees our motion media department, UX strategy and design, and content production. Chris is most passionate about branding and tradeshows. He’s been working on tradeshows since he started at Simantel back in the late 80’s. Chris sets the bar for quality across the agency and has become our go-to expert for all things creative.
From a young age, he had a passion for art and design. Chris grew up with four siblings and came from a creative family. His dad was an artist, and he remembers even as early as 3 years-old admiring letter work and logos. By the time he went to high school, he had a knack for design. As a freshman, he beat out senior graphic design students in a competition to design the yearbook cover. By the time he was a senior himself, he was winning awards in architecture as well. From there, he attended Illinois State University for design. He fully expected to have to move to a big city to find the high level of design he was looking for… until he found Simantel. It was the only agency in the Peoria area at the time that really provided the high-quality he was looking for. To this day, Simantel is still known for our strong creative, and that’s in large part due to Chris’ contributions and strong mentorship over the years.
“Chris has such a great understanding of branding and is always the first to deliver the highest quality product, but what’s more important is his strong leadership and the way he’s guided and mentored some of our best creatives over the years,” said Misty Dykema, Owner and Principal at Simantel. “He’s our quiet leader who is always our calm when it storms. Chris is one of the most grounded creative directors you will ever meet, and he brings so much to our Executive Team. We couldn’t be more grateful for Chris and proud to promote him to Vice President,” she added.
Words of Wisdom for New Employees
Be patient. The work we do here is complicated and just understanding our clients takes time. It can seem really overwhelming for new employees. But learn to rely on the team, we’re all here to help. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re on an island. It’s important to ask a lot of questions.
To learn more, check out our podcast episode featuring Chris: Continuing the Legacy with Chris Moehn.
Erin Bowald: Promoted to Vice President
Erin recently celebrated her 15th anniversary at Simantel. She joined the agency as an Account Coordinator and has served as an Account Manager and Account Director before joining the Executive Team in 2019 as our Executive Strategy Director. Over the years, Erin has worked with a variety of clients including Ameren, City of Peoria and Cat Financial — a client she’s been with for all 15 of her years at Simantel. Deep rooted, long-term relationships with clients is what Erin is all about. She’s an instrumental leader with an unmatched energy and passion for understanding people and driving strategic direction.
Even back in Erin’s early days in high school, she was hardworking, motivated and smart. She was involved in almost every extracurricular activity offered and graduated as valedictorian of her class. Following high school, she went to Bradley University to major in music. After some encouragement from her dad to have a backup plan, she also majored in communications. This is where her love for marketing and communications started to take over. So, she decided to combine that with her love for music and move to Nashville to work in the music industry. Erin started working on the publishing side and even started to get her feet wet in PR before moving back home to be near family and, ultimately, hiring into Simantel. From there, as they say, the rest is history. She credits a lot of her success to the strong female leadership that she had in the past. And now she’s doing the same for so many others.
“From the early days, we knew there was something special about Erin. And not just her sailor’s mouth, but her ability to make connections and build relationships,” said Tim Leesman, Owner and Principal of Simantel. “She is truly one of the most authentic people you will meet and has become a great mentor for many at Simantel. Her drive to make her clients’ projects a success is unrivaled, and she adds so much to our Executive Team. I couldn’t be more excited to promote Erin to a Vice President,” he added.
Words of Wisdom to New Employees
Never leave a question unasked. This is not a company culture where people are faulted for asking questions. The thing that makes us us, is our inquisitive nature. Successful people at Simantel will ask questions so they understand and think critically about it. People who are fearful of that, or can’t get over that fear, won’t be successful here. You just have to ask questions. That’s one thing that I’ve learned from past owners, just to be fearless.
To learn more, check out our podcast episode featuring Erin: The Impact of Strong Female Leadership with Erin Bowald.
Lori Johnson: Promoted to Vice President
This year, Lori will be celebrating her 15th year at Simantel. She started at the agency as an Account Manager where she really honed her skills in estimating, scoping and managing projects of all kinds. She worked on brands like Ameren, the City of Peoria and Knapheide Manufacturing. Through her work on the account side, she identified a gap at the agency and worked with leadership to develop and pilot The Simantel Way — which is the model for how work flows through the agency. From there, Lori uncovered her passion for service management and in no time, she found herself leading project planning and resource management as our Director of Service Management. By 2020, she was promoted and joined the Executive Team where she helps drive the financial management of our clients. She now leads and mentors teams in project planning, resource management, organizational design, instructional design and internal training.
Lori grew up on a farm and even showed livestock as a child. Her farm roots stayed with her after high school as she went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She started her career in the agriculture equipment industry before finding her way to Simantel. Her family still owns a farm today and Lori’s been able to flex her agriculture knowledge on some of our accounts at Simantel, too.
“Lori is the leader that people from all over the company go to. While, yes, she is the expert in service management, she is also very in-the-know and in touch with all aspects of the business,” said Misty Dykema, Owner and Principal at Simantel. “She’s one of those people that works hard behind the scenes to make everything go and has a huge impact on our clients’ projects and our business. We are lucky to have her on the Executive Team – especially her facilitation skills – and I’m so glad that she’s here to help us all as one of our Vice Presidents,” she added.
Words of Wisdom for New Employees
Definitely dig in, learn as much as you can, ask questions, and use the resources available to you. No need to put on a façade like you’ve got it figured out, it’s ok. Ask questions, be vulnerable, admit when you don’t understand or need help.
To learn more, check out our podcast episode featuring Lori: Balancing Work and Life as a Mom with Lori Johnson.
Looking to Our Future
Chris, Erin and Lori are just a part of our strong Executive Team. The alignment of this team is crucial to our success, and they are doing it. They’re building the business together. These are some of the hardest working, fierce and honest leaders in the industry. And they continue to push us all to keep Simantel on the cutting edge.
The Executive Director Team paying homage to Jim Simantel and his mustache. From left to right: Erin Bowald, Chris Moehn, Misty Dykema, Lori Johnson, Chrissie Niedens, Abby Bell, Tim Leesman and Jillian Light.