Happy 34th Anniversary to Us!

Take a trip down memory lane as we look back at the pivotal events that have shaped our past—and will serve as a solid foundation for our future, as we celebrate our 34th anniversary in business. Our agency has grown from an original staff of one in Tom’s parents’ basement to 16 at our historical building in Waukesha.

Top and inset image are from the 1997 video shoot at Carroll College (now Carroll University) with Reggie White.

Top and inset image are from the 1997 video shoot at Carroll College (now Carroll University) with Reggie White.

We’ve been successful for more than 30 years because our purpose has always been to grow our clients’ businesses. Tom Kaupp, the president of IMA, was as hands-on as an owner could be and backed by a growing team of professionals—each with his or her own expertise, and all with a shared focus on Tom’s original commitment to superior creative and client service. Like marketing, we’ve constantly evolved and changed through the years. Today, Image Makers is a true full-service agency, offering everything in-house from video production to social media, website design, and SEO, along with all the traditional agency services our clients rely on.

It’s been said that crazy-good creative and client service should be the foundation of a great advertising agency. And those are the things Tom has always done best. In 1983, Tom spotted a brochure at a wedding trade show he was attending with his fiancée (now wife), Peg. He knew he could create a better brochure for the business and called after the show to offer up his services. That business, Towne and Country Realty, became his first client. Tom originally pitched many of our clients in the same way—by offering to do a better job on their advertising. As a result, Tom and the agency have accumulated a diverse list of valued clients in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

Agency Milestones

CHAPTER 1 — PLANTING THE SEED (the ‘80s)

After landing its first account, the agency moves to a “real” office in Wauwatosa (originally a vending machine space), located at 99th and Bluemound Road. In 1985, the office moves to 136th Street and Capitol Drive in Brookfield. The first IMA employee, John Wittak is hired February 18, 1986 to do “everything,” including direct mail and in-house videography. Tom and John move the office again the next year—this time to 168th and Greenfield in Brookfield. The first full-time graphic artist and copywriter are hired in the late ‘80s to bring desktop publishing in-house. The agency creates and produces its first TV series, This New Home, for Bielinski Brothers, which showcases retail clients related to the home industry. The show is revamped for Kings Way Homes when we become the agency of record for them—New Home Building for the 90s, featuring Kings Way Homes, is created and produced. Now called New Home Building Today, the show is the area’s longest running, locally produced TV series, having aired Sunday mornings on TMJ4-TV for 27 seasons. Other TV shows created and produced this decade include Simply Country, which later becomes What’s in Store with Joyce Rody. IMA also becomes the agency of record for Waukesha County Fair. The IMA office moves to Pilgrim Parkway in Elm Grove in 1989 in order to be closer to the Kings Way Homes business.

CHAPTER 2 — PUTTING DOWN ROOTS (the ‘90s)

Cannon & Dunphy Law Firm is added to our agency portfolio. 1991 brings about another IMA TV program, Menus Around Milwaukee, hosted by Bonnie Montgomery and Peggy Petersen, one of the most watched locally produced programs in Milwaukee. The series runs two seasons. In 1995, we expand the office space of our Elm Grove location by taking over the entire lower floor and building a state-of-the-art video production editing suite. We begin to handle video projects, TV commercials, and TV programs completely in-house. Monroe Equipment, a distributor of Heil and Armstrong Heating and Cooling products, is added to our agency portfolio. In 1998, the agency moves to 139 E. North Street in downtown Waukesha, an historic limestone building listed in the Waukesha Register of Historical Places. We become the agency of record for Regency Senior Communities and land the Milwaukee Marine Boat Dealers Association boat show account. We worked with the association and other boat dealers on subsequent projects from 1995 through 2007.

CHAPTER 3 — FROM SEED TO FULL BLOOM (the 2000s to today)

Our association with Monroe Equipment leads us to become agency of record for Auer Steel and its Carrier (2001) and Bryant (2003) dealers. In 2004, Seider Heating & Air Conditioning becomes our first individual HVAC dealer, and we add The Wonderful World of Weddings & Occasions to our agency portfolio. In 2009, we introduce social media services, initially for Waukesha County Fair. In 2012, we add search engine optimization services to take website design and visibility to a higher level. Art’s Cameras Plus and Malkin’s are added to our agency portfolio. Despite knowing that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” Tom decides to celebrate our 30th anniversary by treating the entire team (and their significant others) to a long weekend there. In 2016, we introduce digital advertising services to clients.

Thanks to the many clients, vendor-partners, TV and radio reps, voiceover talent, show hosts, and employees for being a part of our success story. We couldn’t have done it without you.

We invite you to stay tuned for the next chapter…