JEFF EWALD:
 
JEFF EWALD




 
 
 
 
 
President and Founder of Optimization Group Inc. in Ann Arbor. Starting the business just a few weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, Ewald has built the company from three people laboring in a basement to a staff of 12 with a roster of 45 Fortune 500 clients and federal government groups. More than 95 percent of the company's revenue comes from outside Michigan, and includes business from more than 27 countries. Optimization Group delivers marketing services that integrate marketing, science, and technology. Ewald's hands-on experience in providing a wide range of marketing and marketing research services across many industry sectors enables him to guide clients in developing information, processes, and systems in communications research and planning, new product development research and planning, idea generation, and qualitative and quantitative marketing research. During the first part of his career, he focused on product management and new product development at General Mills and the Vlasic Foods subsidiary of Campbell Soup Co. He also worked at J. Walter Thompson in research, strategic planning, and account management. While there, he spent more than eight years with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber account, serving as the account director. He was also general manager of the Detroit office, Thompson's largest. Ewald was the inaugural winner of the David Ogilvy Research Award. He also has received the AME gold award for global marketing effectiveness. The company has won several Effie awards and is a member of the American Marketing Association and the Advertising Research Foundation. Ewald received his bachelor's degree in music from Indiana University, his MBA from the University of Michigan, and has served on the marketing faculty at Wayne State University's Graduate School of Business.


WHERE BORN: "Ann Arbor."

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: "Probably my grandfather who owned a small sales and service business for fire extinguishers. I spent summers with him on sales routes and learned about what good customer service is about -- caring about families, making sure he knew their names and how to work the extinguisher. He was always concerned if someone used or needed to replace one and immediately gave them a loaner. It was always about customer service."

LAST BOOK READ: "The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, by Steven Pinker."

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: "Extreme contrasts: even-keeled but passionate, creative but disciplined, friendly and caring, but tough."

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: "Traditional market research is using 1950s technology with focus groups and surveys. The future is about being factual, utilizing the enormous amounts of data storage that is available. The future is gathering and analyzing complex data sets including computational linguistics. It's merging data sets and then analyzing them for patterns."

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: "The airplane. I can 'strap one on' and in three hours can be on another coast in a client's office selling or presenting. We take it for granted but it's amazing. I spend about 200 nights a year on the road."

FAVORITE PLACE: "The client's boardroom. I love that during a final presentation, after you've uncovered an 'aha moment,' you can provide them info they need to really move forward."

FAVORITE HOBBIES: "I'm a keyboard player in a rock and roll band. It's a labor of love. I was on the road between undergrad and grad school full-time. The band has been together almost 26 years."

FAVORITE FOOD: "Hot sauce. I put it on absolutely everything. For my anniversary last year, my wife got me the 'hot sauce of the month' club."

MY HIDDEN TALENT: "I'm a closet composer of French Horn quartets. I've composed several volumes that have been performed at conferences around the country."

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: "He worked hard, he played hard, and nobody ever knew the difference."

At the annual awards reception in May 2015, one Leader & Innovator from the previous 12 months will be selected as the Leader & Innovator of the Year.