These 3 Mechanical Engineers Crafted a Marketing Powerhouse

Team specializes in custom apparel, branding and web design

Who (L. to r.) Mark Grubbs, creative director; Shamus McNutt, president; Ben Thomson, chief of operations

After founding the apparel company Belong Designs straight out of college, best friends Ben Thomson, Shamus McNutt and Mark Grubbs noticed business owners peppering them with questions about their startup. Who was behind their apparel? Their website? Their logo?

The answer: They’d been doing it all themselves. That’s when the trio realized they were on to something. “We said, ‘Hey, we do that,’” Thomson explained. “What do you need?’”

FlowState designed and manufactured custom embroidered hats for the Anheuser-Busch-owned Breckenridge Brewery.

Two years later, the entrepreneurs—all mechanical engineers by trade—have taken the lessons they learned to FlowState Marketing, a full-service marketing agency serving clients like Blue Moon Brewing Co., iHeartMedia and HomeAdvisor. The team specializes in branded apparel and merchandise but also offers web design and branding services. They recently designed and produced custom S’well water bottles and T-shirts for an upcoming event hosted by software company SketchUp.

The shop created an interactive website for beverage distributor FloWater.

“In engineering, you look at the controls you have and work with them to get the result you need,” Thomson said. “We took that approach and our work ethic and applied it to marketing. Because that’s what everyone needs: a solution.”

The shop, about two-dozen employees strong, has come a long way from its beginnings in a house that the three friends shared. But other things have stayed the same.

“We just bought a house together—much to our girlfriends’ dismay,” McNutt said.

The agency developed branded bottle openers for MillerCoors’ Blue Moon Brewing Co.
This story first appeared in the September 17, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.
@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.