Young Professional 2017: Travis Hartliep
Travis Hartliep, Owner/designer/digital guru at Cougar Digital Marketing & Design
Describe the company: Cougar Digital Marketing & Design provides businesses, large and small, with highly effective digital marketing strategies and solutions ranging from websites, search engine optimization, social media marketing, online campaigns, video production, graphic design and branding, and much more.
How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? Moved to Tri-Cities in 2002, and then moved back to Prosser in 2016.
What brought you here? Work, family and the beautiful weather.
Do you have any family? Pets? Married to Erika for 18 years. Kids: Owen, 10, and Allison, 8. Dog (Deke) and two cats.
Tell us about your job/career and how you got into it: Website design was just beginning when I studied at Washington State University. After graduating and while working in marketing, I started a side business called Cougar Graphics, designing websites and print media. In 2012, I began operating Cougar Digital Marketing & Design full time. Over the last five years, the Cougar Digital team has grown to seven fabulous team members.
Tell us about your business philosophy: I emphasize client-focused, professional and positive service. My team members collectively use their marketing and design expertise and passion to develop effective and professional marketing strategies — all while listening to and communicating with the client. Plus, we emphasize a positive work culture and environment!
How do you stay competitive in your job/industry? At Cougar Digital, we strive to staying up-to-date with new marketing and technology developments.
On the evenings and weekends, I am usually reading articles or watching videos on the latest trends in the industry. We also have weekly team meetings where we discuss new ideas and concepts and how we can implement them into our clients’ current marketing strategies.
What are your future career goals? I want to continue to grow Cougar Digital to assist more businesses and organizations in the Tri-Cities area and beyond, all while maintaining excellent customer service. We also want to become that one-stop shop where businesses of all sizes can outsource all their marketing needs and partner with us.
Who are your mentors and what did they teach you? My grandpa was my mentor growing up. He taught me the importance of hard work, responsibility and perseverance. I worked for him for many years out on his orchards, and even though I was his grandson, I didn’t get any special treatment! I might have complained at times, but now I am truly grateful for the life lessons he taught me.
What was the toughest business/career decision you had to make or obstacle you had to over overcome? I have always struggled with public speaking. When I started Cougar Digital, I tackled this fear straight on by joining a Business Network International group, which required me to speak weekly in front of the group. I continue to push myself in this regard by joining community organizations, such as Prosser United Good Neighbors, and helping coach sports teams.
What do you like most about what you do? I love hearing my clients’ success stories culminating from an effective website, search engine optimization, branding development, or other marketing strategy we did for them. Many small business owners start with a dream, and we love helping them make that dream a reality. I am also very blessed to have surrounded myself with an amazing team at Cougar Digital.
What do you dislike most about your job? To be honest, staring at a computer all day and sitting in a chair would top my dislike list. We recently improved this since we implemented stand-up desks for the Cougar Digital team, helping workplace quality and employee well-being.
What was your first job and what did you learn there? My first job was working in my grandpa’s and Uncle Mike’s orchards helping with cherry harvest, frost protection and other orchard duties. I learned the importance of showing up on time (even if it is at 3 a.m. in the morning), hard work and performing the assigned task correct the first time.
If you weren’t in your current field, what would be your dream job? I always dreamed of being a pilot in the Navy or Air Force.
Tell us about your community involvement/community service: I coached a number of youth sports teams with the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Cities, Greater Richland Little League and AAU. I really enjoyed helping the kids gain skills and learn the importance of sportsmanship. I also joined the board for Prosser United Good Neighbors. I was a member of Christ the King before moving to Prosser and now I attend Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Cougar Digital supports the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Cities by helping sponsor the parent-child golf tournament.
What word best describes you? Hard-working
What is your biggest flaw? Self-consciousness
What is your biggest pet peeve? Drivers who ride your rear bumper — “tailgaters.”
Dream vacation? Italy. Hopefully, in two years, we get to go celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
What do you do to relieve stress? Exercise
Favorite book? “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown
Favorite movie? The “Rocky” series
Favorite band? Def Leppard
Favorite gadget? Television
Favorite website? Cougcenter.com
Favorite thing to do in the Tri-Cities? Wine tasting
What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? That I was a University of Washington Husky fan when I first moved back to Washington in middle school.