The history of Straight North begins in 1997, when current Straight North Chief Creative Officer Kevin Duffy opened Duffy Design Works, a graphic design agency, in the western suburbs of Chicago. In 2008, Duffy and David Duerr, an entrepreneur and investor with expertise in marketing and executive management, joined forces to co-found Straight North, absorbing Duffy Design Works’ graphic capabilities, and adding internet marketing and web development services to create a full-service agency located in Oak Brook, Illinois. Duerr, also a firm partner, currently serves as our Chairman and CEO.
In 2009, Straight North acquired Whoast, Inc., a rapidly growing internet marketing firm founded by current Straight North partner and Chief Operating Officer Aaron Wittersheim. Combining the Whoast team’s technical skills with the Straight North team’s creative skills significantly expanded our capabilities, enabling us to successfully take on more complex and larger-scale internet marketing campaigns and web development projects. Also in 2009, Joseph Cahill, current partner and Chief Strategy Officer, joined Straight North, bringing significant direct marketing, strategic planning and organization-building skills to our business.
In 2010, we expanded capabilities further by acquiring Word Sell Inc., a Chicago-area consultancy specializing in social media and content marketing. Word Sell founder, Brad Shorr, was brought on as Director of Content Strategy to organize content strategy and production, as well as to improve social media marketing and blogging capabilities. He has since retired.
In 2013, Straight North, now with corporate headquarters in nearby Downers Grove, Illinois, increased our national internet marketing presence through the acquisition of Ephricon Web Marketing, the largest SEO firm in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Charlotte office remains our hub for services in the Southeast U.S. In addition to expanding Straight North’s physical footprint, the Ephricon staff brought tremendous expertise in internet marketing strategy, adding a level of innovation and creativity to client campaigns that few agencies can match.