It’s National Small Business Week, and all week the Catalyst is celebrating some of St. Petersburg’s (many) success stories. The foundation of every great city starts with its small, privately-owned small businesses. They are the very building blocks of St. Pete’s economic success.
Part 4 in a series
Big Sea is a marketing company, but its focus is on people and building productive relationships – whether with its clients or the talented team that drives its success.
Andi Graham founded Big Sea in 2005 with a focus on high-end design, development and marketing. As its website states, its business is growing businesses. Big Sea provides branding, strategy, design, development and marketing. Big Sea identifies areas that need a boost and hones and amplifies what an organization is already doing right.
Dzuy Nguyen, COO and Managing Partner of Big Sea, describes his function as handling behind-the-scenes operations and “taking care of our people.” To use a restaurant analogy, Nguyen said that Graham runs the “front of the house.”
“We’re partners together, but the fact of the matter is, she is inspiring and what drives this entire organization,” said Nguyen. “I get to do a lot of the fun stuff because of her.”
Nguyen also emphasizes that Big Sea’s success directly correlates with the team they have put together. “They are everything,” said Nguyen succinctly. “We’re blessed with these people.”
Nguyen’s love for the people he interacts with extends outside of the building as well. He does not think the company would be as successful in another city and added that “we are always just trying to give back as much as we can to St. Petersburg.” He credits everyone from the Chamber of Commerce to the business community to the people that make the city feel like home. Which, as a first-generation Asian American, holds extra meaning for Nguyen.
“St. Pete is everything we envisioned it would be,” said Nguyen. “It’s constantly growing, and I think that we’re growing with it.”
Nguyen said his focus is on growing his team to be the best they can be, so they can take care of Big Sea’s clients in the best way possible. He said the formula is simple – if Big Sea takes care of its people, then they will take of the clients, and “that’s all it needs to be.” “It shouldn’t be more complicated than that,” said Nguyen.
He said that in the social media age, everything is about building relationships – and he does not believe business should be any different.
“That’s really what I try to do, challenge the questions as to ‘why,'” said Nguyen. “It’s absolutely ridiculous to do things the same way they’ve been done for years just because that’s what people think business should be.”
Nguyen said his favorite aspect of the job is “growing our people – like 100%.” He said it is all about hiring good talent to train new talent while growing the people that have been with them since the beginning. He also relishes working with clients and calls his client meetings “the best in the world.”
“It reminds me how we can be close to the people we affect, and their businesses too,” said Nguyen. “Anything with people is what I really enjoy, and without people is what I really don’t enjoy.”
Nguyen is especially pleased with the work Big Sea has done on Metropolitan Ministries’ campaigns. “They had a crazy-good year,” he said, and he’d like to think Big Sea was a “little piece of that puzzle.” He also mentions the work his company has done with Stetson University, and its website lists the Poynter Institute, the Museum of Fine Arts and the City of St. Petersburg as other clients Big Sea is proud to have represented.
Nguyen said the pandemic has actually made Big Sea even stronger. He said that working remotely was a challenge for him personally, but his team has been thriving through it. He also believes his clients have done well during this time and hopes that continues. He said the customer journey and processes have changed but would like to think that Big Sea has “stayed ahead of the curve.”
“Operationally, it has changed 100%, but business is really strong,” said Nguyen. “I’m a big believer that if you do good work, with good people, then good things will happen.”
For more information on Big Sea, visit its website here.
Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.
Read Part 3 here.