by Kristin Todd Stires
If you talk with Jose Lozano, you may not be surprised that he serves as CEO of FKM, a successful, full-service advertising agency. Exuding confidence and an incomparable work ethic, Lozano is not only a business leader but also an embodiment of the American dream.
“I was raised in Houston, but I was actually born in Puerto Rico,” he said. “I was five when I came to the U.S. and didn’t even know English at the time.”
Lozano’s drive to succeed led him to Baylor. He graduated with a Marketing degree, which he put to use in sales and marketing for his father’s national tire and automotive service company. Lozano later tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit, working as an independent consultant and launching the start-up Mo7, a digital and mobile marketing company that served clients such as the U.S. Army, Reliant Energy and Pepsi. In 2007, Mo7 merged with FKM, and Lozano became CEO in 2011. The integration of Mo7’s new media approach with a 30-year-old ad agency required some organizational restructuring, which Lozano took on with several partners including FKM’s chief creative officer and president Scott Brown.
“We began the restructure by asking, ‘What’s the next step that marketing and advertising will take, and how do we get ahead of it?’” he said. “One of my favorite quotes is by Wayne Gretzky: ‘Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.’ That’s how we try to run the agency. We knew we couldn’t operate how other agencies do and expect to be chosen by major brands.”
A culture of collaboration fueled by a diversity of perspectives was born. The agency is now divided into three core teams: Innovation, Interaction and Transaction. Each team is composed of employees from different disciplines within the agency.
“Most agencies work in silos—if you need a creative idea, you ask the creative team; if you need insight into strategy, you ask another team,” he said. “But our opinion is that model, over time, doesn’t facilitate great thinking. We want to know how a brand can be more innovative, how a brand can have more valuable interactions, and how a brand can have more meaningful transactions.”
The agency has also launched a hyper-specialized, spin-off agency called Palate that focuses on food, beverage and dining brands. Palate will get insights from FKM’s core teams, as well as outside points of view from chefs, mixologists and sommeliers.
“We are partnering with the people that live and breathe food culture and will ultimately impact the food trends,” Lozano said. “In order to identify emerging trends with food and drink, you need to talk to the people creating the culture. We are now replicating this model for other industries as well.”
Lozano, with the management team, has catapulted the company into a $160 million enterprise. With offices in Houston, Dallas, Austin and New York, FKM’s clients include Waste Management, Carapelli Olive Oils, Mattress Firm, Central Garden & Pet, Graeter’s Ice Cream and Massage Heights. The agency gained yet another client, Clockwork Home Services, after competing on and winning an episode of AMC’s reality television series “The Pitch,” which aired in May 2012. Lozano, however, remains humble in his achievements and said Baylor’s focus on business ethics has significantly impacted his career.
“Be careful what you ask for,” he said. “I’ve always strived to be successful, but this is harder than I ever thought it would be. It was a lot easier to deal with ethics in a classroom. It is much harder when it becomes real, and you’re the person making decisions. I’m not affecting a person with a job position; it’s a family. I take that very seriously, and it keeps me grounded in my decisions.”
With a watchful eye anticipating the puck’s next move, Lozano continues to strive for excellence and urges others to do the same.
“I always tell our interns and new hires to ‘be the top 5 percent,’” he said. “If you are in the top 5 percent of whatever you do, you’ll be successful, be given opportunities and survive economic struggles. It’s not good enough to be good. It’s not good enough to be really good. You need to be great.”