Sandstorm Blog

Sandy
Sandstorm featured in Crain's Chicago Business

We’re thrilled and honored to be featured by Crain's Chicago Business! In addition to the fun, theatrical and unique half-day photo shoot (a quick shout out to John Boehm for the awesome photos), we were able to share some secrets of hiring success alongside some fellow Chicago business owners. Now, if only we could have brought in our New York office for the shoot. Miss you, guys!

If you like the article, Smart Bosses Reveal their Secrets to Hiring, keep in mind, we’re currently hiring!

This blog was posted by Sandy on October 8, 2015.
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Jeff
Jeff Umbricht: Front-End Developer, Outdoorsman, Metalhead

Hey, my name is Jeff, and I’m the new guy. I’m a twenty-something who grew up in the northwest suburbs and made my way to Chicago after a couple years in Evanston.

My interest for web development started at the age of 13 after making a website for a friend’s band. In college I started making a career out of this passion by studying web design and interactive media. I learned a little bit about everything from video production to graphic design to web application development. My focus gravitated toward the behind the scenes aspect: web development.

There’s nothing more satisfying than writing code to make a browser transform text into something amazing! After a few years into the industry and honing my dev chops, I’ve joined the amazing team at Sandstorm as the newest front end developer. I’m ecstatic to be surrounded by such passionate individuals and excited to do good work for good people!

A few fun facts about me:

  • I built a holiday wish list website for my family to keep track of who wants what and who bought what. This comes in very handy with 4 children who each have their own significant other.
  • I’m a metalhead. February 2016 will be the 3rd consecutive year I’ve gone on a heavy metal cruise called “70,000 Tons of Metal.”
  • I’ve been known to keep a tent in my car just in case my friends and I feel like an impromptu camping trip. I’m slowly checking places off my must see list including: Big Sur, Shawnee National Forest, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Death Valley.
This blog was posted by Jeff on October 8, 2015.
Jeff Umbricht

About the Author

Jeff Umbricht

Jeff is an Illinois native with a passion for web development. Making code into great things drives him every day. He’s often busy building awesome experiences for Sandstorm clients, and there’s a high probability that he’s rocking out to metal while he codes.

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Sandy
Sandstormers at Super Secret Event
This blog was posted by Sandy on .
Sandy Marsico, Founder & CEO

About the Author

Sandy Marsico

Sandy Marsico is the founder & CEO of Sandstorm®, a digital brand experience agency that turns consumer insights into engaging user experiences through our unique blend of data science, brand strategy, UX and enterprise-level technology.

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Will
Catchin' some rays...

Check out our fun collection of solar powered office mates.

This blog was posted by Will on August 26, 2015.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Jason
Andy Cullen, Senior Engineer and Team Lead

Senior Web Developer Andy Cullen is expanding his role into Senior Engineer and Team Lead. In a position that is new for both Andy and Sandstorm, he’ll mentor our junior and mid-level developers as well as provide direction for the team for Drupal web development projects and beyond. Andy will make sure they have the support they need while helping them grow into larger projects and responsibilities.

Andy will also coordinate with our strategy team to provide valuable insight for clients, all the while keeping our projects rolling with the quality and cool determination he’s known for here at Sandstorm.

Congrats, Andy!

This blog was posted by Jason on August 6, 2015.
Jason Dabrowski

About the Author

Jason Dabrowski

Jason is one of Sandstorm’s designers and also helps keep the office running smoothly. As a veteran of the theatre—from acting to directing, lighting to set design—he knows the value of hard work and a positive attitude. Look for his unique voice on the blog.

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Front-End Developer Adam Smetana Joins Sandstorm

My name is Adam Smetana and I'm the newest addition to the Sandstorm dev team! Also, I have a twin sister. Fun fact: that's been my go-to icebreaker for as long as I can remember. (And no, we are not identical.)

I hail from Wisconsin, the land of cheese, kringle, and really, really good beer. As my favorite writer Hunter S. Thompson once said, "Good people drink good beer." My favorite cheese is parmesan, favorite kringle flavor is pecan, and favorite Wisconsin beer is anything from Lakefront Brewery.

My development experience and passion

I've been in the Chicagoland area for about 6 years now, ever since moving down here to go to Lewis University in Romeoville. I graduated with a degree in computer science and the goal of working in web development and web design. I also got minors in social media and theatre because, well, why not? I enjoy being social and still like to act occasionally, whether serving as an extra, performing karaoke, or awkwardly photo-bombing Barack Obama's website.

I started my career as a front-end developer doing various freelance projects. As my experience grew, my interest in learning and absorbing everything I could increased along with it. There really is nothing more rewarding than seeing something you created come to life in a medium that can be viewed anywhere and everywhere in the world.

More fun facts!

Most of my interests outside of work revolve around music. I know how to play 3 instruments (guitar, ukulele, and piano - if you must know), have read every issue of Rolling Stone within 24 hours of it landing in my mailbox, and go to as many concerts as I can. The show I'm most looking forward to this summer is Paul McCartney at Grant Park, which might rival The Replacements as Show of the Year (an award that exists only in my head). My top 3 favorite movies (in no particular order) are Halloween (1978), This is Spinal Tap, and High Fidelity.

I am so excited to be coming on board here at Sandstorm as a Front-End Developer and learning all I can about Drupal. Now – time to start cranking out some mind-blowing sites with this wonderful team. Cheers!

This blog was posted by on July 17, 2015.
Adam Smetana

About the Author

Adam Smetana

Adam's busy developing awesome websites for our clients. We'll have an equally awesome bio soon. 

Jason
Laura Luckman Kelber, Sandstorm’s Chief Strategy Officer

Sandstorm’s Strategy Director, Laura Luckman Kelber is trailblazing her way into a new role.

As our Chief Strategy Officer, Laura is integral to our continued growth, making sure we provide thoughtful, holistic solutions to our clients. She will continue to help our clients grow through innovative marketing and brand strategy, as well as lead her team of strategists to elevate our clients’ businesses with strategic insights and proactive marketing solutions. And she’ll be doing it all with her signature style, wit, empathy, and infectiously motivational energy.

Congrats, Laura! Daniel, Spike, and Sugar must be quite proud.

This blog was posted by Jason on July 8, 2015.
Jason Dabrowski

About the Author

Jason Dabrowski

Jason is one of Sandstorm’s designers and also helps keep the office running smoothly. As a veteran of the theatre—from acting to directing, lighting to set design—he knows the value of hard work and a positive attitude. Look for his unique voice on the blog.

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Will
Sandstorm is one of Chicago’s Best and Brightest Places to Work

Sandstorm is proud to be one of “Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For” as named by the National Association for Business Resources.

It’s wonderful to be honored for something we’ve been passionately striving for – making Sandstorm the best place to work! Of all the small businesses in the Chicago area, we are in the Top 50. The selection process looks at all aspects of business including: compensation, recruitment, achievement and recognition, work-life balance, and more.

“It is rewarding to see that we excel at employee enrichment and engagement. 'Learning and Sharing' is a core value for us,” says our CEO, Sandy Marsico. “Every day Sandstormers grow and pass along their knowledge to other creatives, developers, and strategists.”

We also scored particularly high in strategic company performance. Our entire team is aligned to move us and our clients forward every day. Our consultative approach is always thinking about the latest digital trends and how to find white space opportunities for our clients.

It’s been an amazing year for Sandstorm. This honor is on top of being one of Chicago’s Coolest Offices, Crain's B2B Top Interactive Agency, and a Top 50 Gen Y Employer, too.

If you are a rockstar developer, UX designer, or strategist, contact us. We’re a growing agency, and we would love to see what we can do together.

This blog was posted by Will on July 1, 2015.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Nick Meshes, Director of Analytics and Optimization

[Ed. note: We're excited to introduce Nick Meshes, our new Director of Analytics and Optimization. What better way to learn more about him than through his own words?]

Where are you from?

I’m from the Internet. Actually, Chicagoland is home to me, though I am a south sider now living in a north sider’s world. I was born and raised in the suburbs along I-55 – Cicero, Brookfield, Lyons – and then eventually moved out to Bolingbrook after graduating from DePaul.

After a decade working in Downers Grove, my wife and I relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas. We had a great two and a half years there, and will cherish the memories and friends we made, but we are so glad to be back with our friends and family here in Chicagoland.

What is your title at Sandstorm?

I am the Director of Analytics and Optimization.

What does that mean?

That means I’m going to increase the quantitative focus around here.

While Sandstorm is already a premier agency for qualitative research, UX design, marketing strategy, and web development, we have an opportunity to increase our capabilities in web analytics, website optimization testing, and personalization.

You have a unique background with Sandstorm. Tell us a little about how you found us.

My wife, Alma, was Sandstorm’s 4th employee nearly 10 years ago. Over the years, I always felt like an honorary Sandstormer, celebrating at the holiday party, participating in the Guac-Off, hanging out with the great people who work here, and occasionally helping solve tough technical issues.

As Sandstorm has grown over the years, we have talked about me officially joining the team, but it never seemed like the right time. Then a couple months ago, Sandy and I started talking about how Sandstorm would like to form a department to focus on website analytics, conversion rate optimization, and web personalization – then she asked if I would like to head it up! I was super excited to build something from scratch – leveraging my technical and organizational skills while also having this amazing opportunity to grow alongside Sandstorm.

What are you most excited about doing at Sandstorm?

I’ve always worked on the back office side of marketing. My customers were the folks delivering insights about consumers and businesses while I was delivering insights about how to do that more efficiently.

Watching from a distance, I have always been fascinated by all the aspects of how this thing called “marketing” worked. I love the art, psychology, strategy, and, of course, the technology. I love how things are getting more complex and data-driven as the field starts to move at the speed of the Internet.

I am so excited to get a seat up front, to work with and learn from people with these amazing skills and talents, and to play on the team that helps organizations use marketing in a way that is inspiring and effective.

Together, we’re going to create a mix more delicious than the winner of the Guac-Off. I am glad to be a part of that mix, and I am proud to make Sandstorm (and the north side) my home.

This blog was posted by Will on June 24, 2015.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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Will
Sandstorm had fun with these Stanley Cup-cakes

Everyone at Sandstorm is excited about the Chicago Blackhawks winning their sixth Stanley Cup! 

As we’ve all anxiously watched games throughout the season(s), we noticed something familiar. (No, not “Chelsea Dagger.”) The Hawks display core values similar to ours. (If you need a reminder they are: Learning and Sharing, Warrior Spirit, and Have Fun) We haven’t changed our business to be more hockey-centered, but the connections between our winning formula and theirs is pretty clear. 

Learning and Sharing

The Hawks are always training. They’ve never rested on their laurels from past wins. They don’t rely on their skill and natural talent. Every day they’re practicing and training to be a stronger and more agile team. They’re studying their past games to improve their performance and to make note of what their competition is doing.

Some of them have been at this for a long time, consider the coaching staff. Everyone has an experience or expertise that they can share with their teammates to help them improve.

Warrior Spirit

How much do I have to say about this? HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED THEM PLAY?!

They take every game seriously, and they have each other’s back. They’re a team first and foremost. There are stars (the ones on commercials and billboards), but on the ice they are all working toward the same goal. 

Everyone is putting out their best to win, not for themselves, but for the whole team. Look at Duncan Keith logging over 715 minutes in the postseason. Goalie, Corey Crawford shutout 25 goal attempts in Game 6 of the finals alone. That’s a LOT of Warrior Spirit. 

Have Fun

After all the hard work they’ve put in this season, now is the time to have fun. Following the intensity, the team can finally unwind. If you’ve seen the news this week, you’ll know that they have, too, in clubs, parties, and the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

Yesterday they’ve had a ticker-tape parade through downtown Chicago with at-capacity rally in Soldier Field. They have the attention of the city and the world, and they all get the opportunity to share their excitement and win with their day with the Stanley Cup at a venue of their choosing. Many choose to go to their hometowns to share with their families and friends.

Getting to the Cup

All of these factors come together to win. We at Sandstorm don’t have a cup we’re aiming for, we just want to do good work for good people. While we’re not in the national spotlight, we work just as hard together to make great things happen. Whether it’s a responsive website or a rebranding project, our team is working to make our clients scream “GOOAALLLLLLLLLLLL!”

[Our image for this post is of delicious Stanley Cup-cakes that Alicia brought in from Bennison's. Celebration never tasted so good!]

This blog was posted by Will on June 19, 2015.
Will Biby

About the Author

Will Biby

Will wears many hats at Sandstorm. From writing web content to executing social media strategies, he is quick to act and insistent on a job done right. Will enjoys writing, so expect to hear from him often on the blog.

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