Chief Marketing Officer at PEMCO
Rod tells people he’s a marketer to the core. Ask him about his “taproot” or his “passion” and he’ll share story after story about what he does and why he does it. Rod likes to think that he “gets it,” but he also stresses that continuous learning and exploration is one of the keys to whatever success he’s had.
While attending Washington State University in the 1970s, Rod’s advisor told him he had a great face for radio. That caused Rod to shift his emphasis from broadcast journalism to communication and advertising. After graduating with a degree in Communications, Rod started at the bottom by selling ads for a small weekly newspaper near his hometown. To make a living, he quickly learned the importance of relationships, the art of engagement, and being willing to hustle. He says that role was both humbling and incredibly beneficial.
During his 40-year career, Rod continued to engage people and hustle. He’s been the marketing force behind successful start-ups, emerging growth companies, and well-established Northwest businesses such as Northern Automotive, Egghead Software, and Coinstar. In 1999, Rod took the marketing helm at PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company. With the role came his chance to help transform an analytical, operations-based organization with a largely commoditized and conservative product into a dynamic, customer-centric, market-driven and results-oriented mutual organization. Now, 18 years later, Rod calls the insurance business one of the biggest marketing challenges he’s faced, and he views PEMCO’s widely recognized and award-winning ad campaign as one of his most rewarding. He’s a lot like you. A little different!
Rod was a pioneer of word of mouth marketing before he knew the discipline had a name. He came to PEMCO with a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) that may have surprised traditional marketers on the team. They quickly learned that there is little that’s traditional or conservative about Rod. “To never have to advertise for a lead again” was the goal, and making it happen by turning routine touchpoints into remarkable talking-points was the strategy. Under Brooks’ leadership PEMCO has become one of the Northwest’s most recognized, talked about and beloved brands, regardless of category, one conversation at a time.
Rod has served in many volunteer leadership capacities and is especially proud of his long-standing service to Washington DECA, an organization dedicated to developing marketing and leadership skills in high school students. DECA recognized Rod’s service and contributions by giving him the Washington DECA Award of Merit, the organization’s highest recognition for volunteer service. Rod also received the first-ever “Cougar Spirit of Education Award” from the College of Education at Washington State University, where he serves on the College of Education Advisory Board, The Murrow College of Communication Board, and the WSU Board of Trustees.
Rod has received several prestigious awards for his marketing and leadership impact. He received the Marketing Legend award from the Puget Sound chapter of the American Marketing Association in 2014, and he’s one of only two brand marketers to receive highly regarded Marketing Immortal recognition from MarketingNW. Most recently, Forbes magazine listed Rod among the 50 most influential CMOs on Social Media, and he was recognized by The Science of Digital Marketing as 2016’s most influential online marketer.
Rod has been active in the Word of Mouth Marketing Association since 2007 and was elected to its board of directors and executive committee in 2008, serving as president in 2011.
Rod and his wife, Cindy, live in Sammamish, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. The couple have a blended family including seven children and seven grandchildren.