Who we are 2023-08-21T21:11:58+00:00
Brick office building with ColinKurtis banner

We’re a marketing and design firm located in Rockford, Illinois, we’ve been designing and developing authentic strategic branding and communication solutions since 1996.

Our Process

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We ask, listen, understand, survey, and analyze.

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A creative custom-made plan is crafted to achieve your goals.

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Everything is focused and connected through design.

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We deliver everything you need on time—and nothing you don’t.

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Whether it’s metrics or analytics—we use them all to measure success.

Our Capabilities

  • Research
  • Strategic Planning
  • Brand Strategy & Messaging
  • Brand Identity, Naming
  • Website Design & Programming
  • Media Campaign Strategy & Buying
  • Sales Enablement
  • Public Relations
  • Print & Online Ad Development
  • Packaging and Point of Sale
  • Tradeshow Booth Development & Design
  • Event Planning
  • Literature Development
  • Copywriting
  • Social Media
  • Internet Marketing Campaigns
  • Video Production
  • TV & Radio Commercial Development

Our Clients

AAK logo
ADM logo in black and white
Amelia Bay logo
andersonhouse logo
Bascom Maple Farms logo
Berner logo
bbuds logo
campfire logo
carnosyn logo
CulinNEX logo
Eaglestone logo
epogee logo
Fibersol® logo
ffp logo
innophos logo
jim beam logo
jr short logo
Kemin logo
Kerr by Ingredion logo
NAI logo
nellson logo
optp logo
pps logo
RK Trading logo
sokol logo
Stucchi logo
sunkist sauces logo
Trinidad logo
Vapor Power logo
The Wright Group logo


Smart, Focused, Dedicated, Caring, Creative, and Fun—Just a few words we look for in our teammates at ColinKurtis. We have found over the years that creating a cohesive team of individuals provides our customers with the best results. Every team member wants what you want—long-term success, long-term relationships and oh yeah, to have as much enjoyment in the process as possible.

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Colin Kampmier

Founder, Owner

Superpower: Keeping it real! Connecting with our customers and team on a personal level to keep the fun in the work.

Background: With a BA in Marketing and an MA in Sports Marketing, I started ColinKurtis in 1996, out of my home with an old college buddy. Over the years, the one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to delivering great creative based on sound strategy that gets results. I have dedicated myself to finding marketing strategies and campaigns that provide client-driven results, all while working as a team together with our customers.

Diversions: Revolve around my daughter and my girlfriend—if I am not with them, you can find me at work. When I get away from it all, I’m bowling, golfing or playing Texas hold ‘em.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I considered becoming a pro bowler and bowled for the NCAA Championship.

Favorite Food: For starters, I enjoy a light mixed berry smoothie, made with Milk Buds from Butter Buds, and a protein bar, created by Nellson Nutraceutical—made using trend-forward ingredient solutions from ADM, dietary fiber from Fibersol®, specialty plant-based oils from AAK—on my way to the office or the airport. For lunch, I love a classic deli-meat sandwich—featuring bread baked using Innophos’ baking solution and deli meat protected by FFP’s clean label extracts for guaranteed freshness! To zest it up for dinner, I prefer a vegetable bowl mixed with Orange Sesame Ginger Dressing, courtesy of Sunkist Sauces and Dressings. And, my favorite go-to dessert is a roasted Campfire marshmallow, dipped in chocolate hazelnut spread from SOKOL Custom Food Ingredients.

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Debra Tucker

VP, Creative Director

Superpower: The ability to be polished and professional, yet when required, wield the f-word with uncanny precision.

Background: I earned my B.A. in Art and Design from Illinois State University and have almost 30 years of experience in advertising and the creative field, including 20+ years of food industry experience. I’ve been with ColinKurtis since 2006, when I started as a strategist and creative director. In 2012, I became part owner and vice president.

Diversions: Adjusting to being a mom to two ADULT daughters and spoiling my lab/pit rescue dog Jax. Love movies, music (can’t wait to see some LIVE soon), gardening and working on decorating/updating projects around my house. The older I get the more I want to be outside…sometimes this means hiking and exploring local nature preserves, sometimes this means having a beer on my deck.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: When I was in middle school I was runner-up in the spelling bee…two years in a row.

Favorite Food: Both of my daughters have become vegetarians, so I’m learning a lot of recipes involving chickpeas…but bread and pasta are still my favorite!

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Leslie Daughtry

Director of Web Production

Superpower: I’m the Fixer. I like a good challenge and I do whatever it takes to tackle the issue at hand.

Background: I earned my degree in web design with an emphasis in graphic design graduating from Harding University outside Little Rock, Arkansas in 2006. My career started in the luxury jewelry industry and served a short stint in the farming industry before coming to CK. (From diamonds and Rolex to tractors and tires…I’ve done it all!)

Diversions: Spending time with family, we love to go to flea markets and vintage shops and repurpose old things into new treasures. Traveling also provides creative adventures; whether inside the US or abroad. I love to experience and capture in photographs all of the different environments, landscapes and cultures that exist, and I’ve been fortunate to experience so many!

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I'm a twin!

Favorite Food: Ice cream. “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream, and that’s kinda the same thing.”

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Kacey Smith

Senior Art Director

Superpower: Staying cool, calm, and collected

Background: I graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in graphic design and general art and have 15 years of experience. I started out working for a Chicago based magazine, designing editorial layouts and promotional materials, then worked for a small marketing agency in Rockford until starting as a graphic designer at CK in January of 2012.

Diversions: Love being a mom and spending time with the fam. Watch a ton of movies and read murder mystery books. Love listening to music and being outdoors. Occasionally paint or do fun craft projects when I have time.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I’m a huge sports fan! Love to play sports and watch them. Love to cheer on the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks and Cubbies.

Favorite Food: Firecracker shrimp, they’re the perfect combination of sweet and spicy

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Kate Schupbach

Creative Director

Superpower: Organized to the nth degree. My lists have lists.

Background: I earned my B.F.A. in Visual Communications from Northern Illinois University and have been with CK since 2012. Before that, I worked in Wisconsin creating promotional materials and custom designs for a local as well as a few well-known brands, freelanced and worked for a small agency in the Chicago-area before starting as a Junior Graphic Designer.

Diversions: Spending time with my growing family–which includes two large dogs, two little kids and a lot of plants–making our fixer upper in the country a home, antiques, Chicago Cubs and Bears, long walks through Target, and wine.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I also have a passion for event planning and design. I was some type of a planner in my past life.

Favorite Food: Pizzaterian, or my mother-in-law's homemade mozzarella sticks...

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Kathleen Slabaugh

Art Director

Superpower: Always try and have a sense of humor even in the midst of a crazy day.

Background: Graduated in 2008 from Illinois State University which was great timing right in the midst of a financial crisis. From there I worked as a bartender (a position which flourishes during a financial crisis) while also working at a print shop. I caught my big break as a designer in the marketing department for a global food & ingredient company. From there I broke into the agency world. Two agencies later in 2019 I found my happy place at ColinKurtis.

Diversions: My husband and I have 3 crazy kids who certainly divert most of our attention. But when I get a moment I love all things fixer-upper. I love getting outside and running, biking, camping and boating.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I was in Girl Scouts through high school and still remember the Girl Scout Promise.

Favorite Food: Beer

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Juanita Hickerson

Copy & Content Director

Superpower: Ability to embrace, research, then write about a new topic (often developing a bit of a crush on it in the process).

Background: I like words and images, and my career in marketing has celebrated both. Before making the jump to copywriting, I received my B.F.A. from Rockford University and worked in visual merchandising. I love telling the story of brands, their products and their benefits.

Diversions: Black and white movies, prefer watching HGTV to actually working on/cleaning my own home.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I have sent my dog text messages. On more than one occasion.

Favorite Food: Red wine

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Rimsey Ranken

VP, Operational Efficiency

Superpower: Being organized and on top of things (which in part is due to my excellent memory, which my son is going to LOVE-haha) and negotiating (schedules/timelines, compromising, etc… all in a days work!).

Background: Along with a B.A. in Speech Communication from University of IL-Champaign and an M.S. in Communication from Indiana State University, I have 15+ years of project management/resource allocation/workflow management experience at advertising agencies (prior to this, all in the pharma industry and mainly in Chicago, IL).

Diversions: Playing with my three sons: Tate (7), Will (2) and Vaughn (1), reading and swimming.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I don’t like belly buttons and I 100% believe in ghosts.

Favorite Food: My mom’s broccoli cheese soup. Because getting comfort food that your mom made you is always the best food in the world.

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Penny Libby

Internal Sales

Superpower: Organizational skills – keeping everything running smoothly in the CK office.

Background: After attending Northern Illinois University and Robert Morris College, I went down a business path that included manufacturing, water treatment, medicine, and a cemetery(!) before I came to work at CK seven years ago.

Diversions: Golf, softball, reading and movies.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: As a small child, I would eat butter. By itself. Perhaps I still do.

Favorite Food: Chocolate, because it just makes you feel better.

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Carrie Livingston

Vice President, Media Relations

Superpower: Currency manipulation, enhanced visibility, and wish granting: all to get clients exactly where they need to go!

Background: I have been specializing in media/public relations for food industry clients since 1997. Been with CK since 2007.

Diversions: Married, 3 kiddos, lots of furry friends: mutantly large dog, cats, fish, frog. I take care of everyone and bring home the strays of all kinds: people, pets, etc.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” is my favorite song. I cry every time I hear it.

Favorite Food: Blackened chicken—many spices fused together. Creates a taste sensation with a spicy burn, but you dip each bite in lemon butter sauce and mellow out that burn. Leaves your mouth tingling. The recipe was originally created by Louisana Chef Paul Prudhomme, one of my favorite chefs.

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Valette Piper-Bledsoe

VP, Client Services

Superpower: Putting pieces together in ways no one else does—making order out of chaos.

Background: With CK since August 2014. Majored in Psych/Soc at Trinity University-Washington, because knowing why people do what they do is important for any career. Been working in marketing for more than 20 years, including for nonprofit organizations, corporations and advertising agencies. My not-so-secret passion is for integrating interactive media into traditional marketing; I don't focus on trends, but on strategy—and results.

Diversions: With three kids, a dog, and a cat, most of my time not at work is spent with my family. I love to cook, garden, make furniture and I'm a voracious reader, particularly of my husband's novels.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I am a complete and utter geek and totally rule in Star Trek trivia.

Favorite Food: Cheese. Any kind, any way.

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Eri Haycraft

Project Director

Superpower: Rolling with the punches—pushing forward to get to a resolution and get the job done.

Background: I’m a University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana alum who studied biology, but was drawn into the world of advertising after taking my first job at Draft Worldwide in Chicago. Since then, I’ve been at agencies big and small with both B2B and B2C experience.

Diversions: I love traveling and spending my free time with friends and family. My weekends are filled with sports activities and shuttling my two boys around to birthday parties and play dates. My husband is a middle school math teacher, which will come in handy as our kids’ math homework becomes more complex year over year. I play tennis and golf, weather permitting, and when it doesn’t, I play in a recreational bowling league.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: If I’m driving (alone), you’ll find me singing along to the radio.

Favorite Food: French Fries, of course!

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Mitch Robinson

New Account
Development Manager

Superpower: Conversationalist! I have the ability to talk with anyone on any subject, especially about ColinKurtis and my family.

Background: I have a BS In Sports Communications from Ithaca College and have known Colin since 1990, when I started working on local television. When I made a career change in 2011, Colin asked me to develop new accounts for CK, since we’ve collaborated successfully in the past.

Diversions: My twin girls. I coach them in soccer and watch them in every other sport. I also like watching professional and college sports, and playing video games. Yes, I admit I am a bit of a gamer geek. As an NJ native, I’m a Springsteen fan.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I do not like clowns. Editor’s note: Does anyone?

Favorite Food: Steamed whole Maine lobster. Spent my summers in camp there and would get it fresh from the ocean to the table. Nothing better in the world, no butter needed.

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Corrie Ainsworth

Account Director

Superpower: Happiness. I like to ensure the client is happy with the end result—and is kept in the loop during the process.

Background: While working and going to school full-time, I earned my BA in Communications Management 2012. I have worked in the marketing field for over five years and taught marketing to adult learners for the past two years.

Diversions: I enjoy baking and reading, but not at the same time. It’s always nice to take our dog, Norah Jade, for a walk. When weather permits you can find my boyfriend Al and I boating, hanging out with family or friends, and perhaps enjoying a nice glass of bourbon or wine.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: My family dog Max thought my beloved pet hamster—Chewy—was a squeaky play toy that needed to be silenced. And in the end, he did.

Favorite Food: Breakfast food! Eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, hash browns (crispy), Swedish pancakes, regular pancakes...you name it.

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Kristen Mattingly

Senior Account Director

Superpower: Bringing marketing and sales together so customers get just the right info at just the right time.

Background: I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BFA in Graphic Design. Since then, I’ve worked with both in-house and agency marketing teams doing exactly what I love.

Diversions: My husband and I have two boys who keep us on our toes, as well as three dogs who are always underfoot. When I’m not working, you’ll most likely find me watching my boys play baseball, at the gym or binge watching an old tv series on Netflix. I’m a newcomer to country music—who is now completely hooked.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I love to lift weights, definitely not a Zumba girl here!

Favorite Food: Candy! Hot Tamales, Now & Laters and gummy bears are my top faves.

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Matt Hensler

Chief Marketing Officer

Superpower: Connecter—probably because I played a lot of Connect Four as a kid. I can quickly see how clients can maximize potential by integrating social into other areas and knowing the industry to find other solutions to increase ROI.

Background: I have a BA in Public Relations + Advertising from DePaul University and an MA in PR from Full Sail University. I owned a boutique social media + PR agency, worked in-house at Wells Fargo, USA Today and Toshiba. I led integrated marketing communication at a well-respected Chicago agency, partnering with fantastic brands including Walmart, Hershey’s, Del Monte, StarKist, American Flatbread, Famous Dave’s BBQ, Chicago Cubs and PAC-MAN. I won 3 City of Chicago's Social Media Awards and was named a PR News 30 & Under Award Winner.

Diversions: I love playing with my dog, Braxton. Also, I enjoy dining and traveling—I judged at the World Food Championship, and I’m a KCBS (Kansas City Barbeque Society) certified judge.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I was part of Oprah’s flashmob on Michigan Avenue.

Favorite Food: Fried chicken. I’m on the hunt for America’s Best Fried Chicken—the current winner is Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans.

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Julie Bliss

Office Manager

Superpower: Super Receptionist: faster than a laser printer, more organized than a spreadsheet, able to conquer mountains of paper in a single day.

Background: After 25+ years in banking as a branch manager/loan officer/business development officer, I’ve been a sales/office manager/accounting assistant.

Diversions: I love hiking, biking, kayaking, gardening, my book club, and doing service projects.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I am a covert curb consultant, secretly judging people’s lame landscaping and lack of curb appeal. I really should have my own HGTV show.

Favorite Food: A totally tricked out salad.

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Stacy Kiejko

Quality Assurance Specialist

Superpower: A sharp eye for detail. If there’s a typo, I’ll find it!

Background: I earned my BA in Organizational Communication from North Central College and have 10+ years of experience in marketing, communications and branding for both B2C and B2B organizations. Prior to joining ColinKurtis, I’ve worked in the tourism and publishing industries, and served as a freelance marketing professional for several small business owners.

Diversions: My husband, Stan, and our toy poodle, Holly. I love playing board games, cheering for the Chicago White Sox, and geeking out over all things Disney, Star Trek and Doctor Who.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I started dance lessons at age two and continued with them all the way through college, graduating with a minor in dance. Tap is my favorite and Gene Kelly is my idol.

Favorite Food: Pineapple Dole Whip. Never heard of it before? Look it up...you’ll thank me later!

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Eric Kron

Social & Digital
Media Coordinator

Superpower: Super adaptivity. I can learn new tasks quickly and take on a wide range of projects at once.

Background: I graduated from Roosevelt University Chicago in December, 2020. I studied Integrated Marketing Communications with a concentration in Creative Advertising. My Social Media internship with ColinKurtis is what lead me to my current position!

Diversions: Making music, skateboarding, watching movies, and attempting to bake.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I have worked as a roofer for the last 5 years.

Favorite Food: Tacos and banana bread. (separately of course).

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Lydia Kozlowski

Copywriter & Content Marketer

Superpower: Attention to detail. I always double and triple check my drafts before sending them off.

Background: I received my BA in English with a minor in Professional Writing from Lewis University, and my experience includes working in publishing, startup culture, and the luxury floral industry. I’m thrilled to learn and grow with the ColinKurtis team and their clients.

Diversions: In my free time, I enjoy spending time in nature with friends. Lucky for me, one of my old college roommates works at Glacier National Park and lives in a renovated school bus. I imagine I’ll be visiting her very soon!

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I recently started playing pickleball, and I REALLY like it.

Favorite Food: Potato and cheese pierogi topped with chopped bacon and melted butter.

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Hayley Budzinski

Email & Web Marketing Producer

Superpower: I am very adaptable. I could go anywhere in the world and have a great time. I am also weirdly good at retaining languages.

Background: I earned a *very* useful Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Colorado State University and then became a paralegal before deciding I wanted to get into web development and design. I have been working as a front-end developer since 2020, and I am excited to see where my career goes with ColinKurtis!

Diversions: In my free time, I enjoy doing the classic Colorado activities of rock climbing, hiking with my golden retriever, going to breweries, and camping in my 1990 Chevy campervan. I am also a metalsmith specializing in making jewelry out of sterling silver and semi-precious stones.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I have traveled to 30 countries, most of which by myself!

Favorite Food: Anything Asian; pho, sushi, ramen, curry, thai… give me the spice!

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Kianna Lynch

Digital Integration Manager

Superpower: Super focus. I can easily stay focused on my task at hand and avoid distractions to achieve ultimate productivity.

Background: I graduated from Loyola University Chicago in May 2022 with a BA in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Environmental Science. I worked as an intern and part-time employee for ColinKurtis for a year, which led me to my full-time position as Social and Digital Media Coordinator.

Diversions: Traveling, baking and cooking, trying new restaurants or coffee shops, and buying (too many) plants.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You:I almost went to school for dance.

Favorite Food: Pad Thai if it’s cold out, Acai if it’s warm out.

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Monica Dubiel

Graphic Designer

Superpower: Problem solver – always thinking of creative solutions.

Background: I earned my BFA in Graphic Design and Digital Media from Laguna College of Art + Design with an emphasis in Action Sports. I did some freelance photography, worked as a junior designer creating graphic tees for a local small business, then went on to work as a designer at an advertising agency before starting at CK in October 2022.

Diversions: My dog, gaming and taking care of my various reptiles and plants.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: I really like cooking, especially during the summer when I can use all the fresh veggies and herbs from my garden.

Favorite Food: Chips & salsa, ramen and any form of potato!

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Rita Siedlaczek

Senior Account Director

Superpower: My EQ (Emotional Intelligence), which I think is higher than my IQ…lol. My soft skills help me connect to people and work WITH them.

Background:I have a BA in Marketing and Communications and spent most of my career working at various agencies specializing in B2B marketing. I also have direct healthcare and legal services experience, but my passion lies in the agency world.

Diversions: I have three beautiful humans that I can call my children, Brandon, Adam and Bianca. All three are professionals and amazing souls…my greatest accomplishments and blessings. In addition, I enjoy food…cooking, dining out and, of course, eating. Then I work it off by working out, playing pickleball and golf.

One Thing People Don’t Know About You: My parents immigrated to the United States from Italy with my two older sisters, making me a first-generation Italian American.

Favorite Food: Being a foodie, this is probably the hardest one to answer, so we will go with survival – cheese, all types.

Fun Facts