“You shouldn’t have to choose between being a mom and building a great career,” said Michelle Andres, President of Group 7even. “Any time I’m not at work, I try to spend with my husband and three kids. They’re the center of my world. Our philosophy at Group 7even is ‘Family First.’”
For a woman whose career has taken her from New York to Detroit to Chicago, it was family that brought her back home.
After the birth of their first child, Elijah, now 14, Michelle and Grant moved to Valpo and started the business.
“Growing up in Valpo, I always thought it was a great place to raise a family.”
Her three children, Elijah, Noah, 12 and Micah, 7, attend Morgan Township schools and enjoy plenty of time with mom and dad. In an effort to experience different areas of the country, the Andres family has a formed special affinity for California and St. Thomas but are looking forward to an upcoming Alaskan cruise.
“We’ll see how that ranks,” Michelle said, “We’re excited because it looks like no place we’ve ever been!”
Michelle’s enthusiasm for God’s green earth is rooted in her deep Christian faith.
“Our values cross over into everything we do,” said Michelle of the life she lives with her husband, “Integrity is important. In our family and in our business, we want people to know that they can trust us, and that we are there for them.”
While her values are lifelong, her career began at Anderson University, a Christian college in Anderson, Indiana. As a marketing major, Michelle wasn’t quite sure which aspect she was most interested in. That is, until she participated in a group project in her advertising class.
“Our project won, and ultimately we won the national advertising competition. We won prize money, which was great, but also an internship at the New York agency of our choice.”
“A lot of times you come out of college with a degree, but you’re not sure how to use it,” Michelle said, “I actually knew exactly what I wanted to do and which agency I wanted to work for. That’s where I set my sights.”
Michelle chose FCB in NYC. Then she went back to school and ended up in Detroit at Y&R. Eventually, she moved back to FCB, in their Chicago office. But as we know, her young family would bring her back to Valpo.
Her experience at major agencies taught her a lot about what she wanted to build into her own business.
Group 7even, Michelle decided, would offer a full suite of marketing and advertising capabilities, all under one roof.
“It needed to be a one-stop shop, which didn’t exist at the time,” Michelle said, “Using my background in strategy, I knew that it would be important for everything to work together.”
Of local clients like the South Shore Line, Michelle said “We enjoy working with people in our community and seeing the fruit of our labor first hand.”
Michelle’s focus is on long-term relationships, and she’s proud that her client list has very little turnover. Instead of selling her clients things they don’t need, she’s honest about what she thinks will work best for their situations.
“We feel a personal responsibility to do what’s best for them,” Michelle said, noting that when clients succeed, they can hire more people. In turn, Group 7even can hire more people. By growing and evolving with the client, Michelle is able to return to her focus: people.
“We want people who work here to love working here and want to come to work every day,” Michelle said of her crew, “We put in the time, but we make sure that our employees can take the time they need to do the things they need to do.”
Because you shouldn’t have to choose between having a great career and building a strong family.