Years ago, when David Grantz had almost completed his degree in marketing and public relations, he looked around at his peers, and realized they were seeking employment as soon as they graduated from Ball State University.
Not Grantz. He wanted something more. “I knew I didn’t just need to find a job – I needed a job that would put me on the map.”
The perfect place that would fit the bill? Churchill Downs. “It was a company on a global scale,” he said. “I knew I needed to work there.”
Grantz quickly found out there were no open positions at the corporation. Didn’t matter. After finding out that Larry Sinclair was the person in charge of the marketing department, Grantz set out on a one-man mission. “I absolutely bombarded him with phone calls, faxes, letters. … I did everything I could do to get in front of him. I was like, ‘That’s the position I want,’ so I went after it.”
And how, Sinclair recalled. “Oh my gosh! Why did I hire him? Because he was so persistent. He wouldn’t quit.”
Just before Grantz’s 1994 graduation date arrived, a position came available and Sinclair – who now works for the PGA of America – couldn’t help but to think of Grantz. He’s still thankful he did. “David was a great hire,” he said.
Grantz chose to skip his commencement ceremony and immediately went to work for Churchill Downs as a marketing intern. “Like a horse out of the gate, I went from college to the real world.”
The experience proved fruitful but it eventually came to an end and Grantz took a job selling commercial radio air time. While there, he met Steve Langford, who worked at WAVE 3 until retiring as general manager earlier this year.
Langford thought Grantz was “too green” to go to work for the Louisville station, but he made a call to a station in Lexington and helped the young man land his first job in broadcast TV.
Grantz moved up the ladder quickly, making and meeting lofty sales goals. When a position came available at WAVE 3, he jumped at the chance.
Over the next few years, Grantz moved to FOX 41 to Chicago to Alabama. “I had everything I could want for a guy in his 30s. It was sunny and 75, there were all these Southern belles walking around, I had the big house on the golf course, the John Deere. But,” he said, wistfully, “I just really missed Louisville.”
Grantz missed his family and friends, but he also knew he was missing something else. Yes, he had a lavish lifestyle that was perfect for the consummate overachieving bachelor, but day in and day out, he clocked in and reported to someone else. This was a job but it wasn’t the job. “That’s why I decided to chuck it all to move home and start my own advertising agency. Ultimately, what I wanted was control of my own destiny. I was successful. So why wouldn’t I be successful in my own hometown where I knew everybody?”
Once home, Grantz set up shop in “very humble beginnings.” He tripped over the wires in his apartment and “set up the Buzz Advertising office at the Heine Brothers across the street. The Highlands became my headquarters.”
Grantz’s very first account was Bonnycastle Appliance & TV. “I called the owner and I said I’d like to do your marketing and advertising.”
That first account “put me on the map,” Grantz said with obvious gratitude. “No matter how big my company gets, no one will ever handle Bonnycastle. That will always be my account.”
Since then, Grantz has moved into more established digs and signed a number of clients, including Scheller’s Fitness & Cycling, Anabel’s Oriental Rugs, The Louisville MEGA Cavern, Koerber’s Fine Jewelry, Belle of Louisville, Contemporary Galleries – and the 2011 Senior PGA Championship.
“They handled all of our marketing and advertising,” said Senior PGA Tournament Director Ben Rubin. “David did a fantastic job. He was very innovative and creative. … He was fantastic to work with and was very client friendly and ensured that what our vision was he was able to take that and build a … plan that was the most beneficial and marketable for the championship. I’d say we were extremely satisfied with Buzz Advertising, and we’re looking forward to working with David for the 2014 PGA Championship. We couldn’t have done what we did without the experience from Buzz.”
Grantz credits the successful partnership with his belief in treating people like you would your friends. “It’s about relationships in a community like Louisville. We do way more than traditional advertising. I use my relationships to make things happen for people.”
Now that he’s had almost five years of working for himself, Grantz vows to never work for anyone else.
“There’s nothing like getting up and going to your own office and creating your own path,” he said. “The days of working 35 years for someone else are over. I’m loyal to my clients, but the days of a company being loyal to you are no longer. The days of earning a gold watch for loyalty – over. If you want a gold watch, go out and buy one. I love being in charge of my own destiny.”
Buzz Builders by David Grantz
“At BUZZ, we’re not afraid to shake the tree, bend the rules and set fire to old concepts that will never fly in today’s aggressive marketplace.”
“Making the jump from the corporate world to starting your own company is like jumping out of a plane: The biggest scare is jumping into the unknown. It isn’t that initial thought of making the jump, it’s that once you’ve made the jump, you can’t get back into the airplane.”
“Bring me your problem, we’ll bring you solutions.”
“I don’t feel like I’m in the advertising business at all. I feel like I’m in the problem solution business.”
“I love Chicago, but I’d rather be a big fish in a little pond than a minnow in Lake Michigan.”
Category: The Profile
About the Author (Author Profile)
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.
Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.