Building a Thriving Agency Through Massive Adversity featuring Jon Franko

Mar 24, 2021

My guest today on the show is Jon Franko, co-founder and partner at Gorilla 76, an industrial marketing agency based in St. Louis, Missouri.

From being a 6th grader who wanted to play professional basketball, Jon went on to attend the Journalism School of the University of Missouri. There he discovered he was a natural writer, leaning towards traditional newspaper-style writing. By his second year, his curriculum included an advertising program which introduced him to copywriting and gave him his first glimpse at the world he would eventually thrive in.

After school, he went to work as a copywriter for a local agency but was doing spec ads on the side for fun. His aunt who was working for an advertising business told him he should be getting paid for the good work he was doing. In 2006, he started freelancing and became full-time in 2008.

We talk about:

  • His backstory as a 12-year old Chicago Bulls fan to establishing Gorilla 76 with his business partner in 2006 (02:30)
  • Getting into the industrial sector by accident (09:10)
  • The constant evolution of Gorilla 76 (12:35)
  • Being diagnosed with MS on January 15, 2016 (16:50)
  • How his diagnosis has impacted his work at the agency, with focus on empathy (20:20)
  • Getting into marathons and what he loves about running (22:57)
  • The core values of Gorilla 76 and how these have contributed to the success of the agency (31:08)
  • What goal-setting and company growth looks like for him (35:24)
  • His partner’s podcast titled The Manufacturing Executive Podcast that talks about growth strategy for manufacturing leaders and repurposing content (40:21)
  • How sales are done inside the agency (41:14)
  • The weakness and area for improvement of Gorilla 76 (44:52)


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