August 25, 2021

‘Un-agency’ recruits new president & COO following explosive growth, new investment at five-year milestone

Kansas City, Mo. — It’s all hands on deck as Crux KC (Crux) rides the tailwind of a rapid year of growth — and they’ve recruited a new captain to help steer the ship.

This month, the local un-agency and KC Chamber 2021 Top 10 Small Business winner added Ethan Whitehill as its new President and Chief Operating Officer, drawing on his years of marketing leadership experience guiding growth for clients and agencies. His new role includes managing Crux’s internal operations, processes, financials and client development.

Whitehill has helped multiple marketing firms scale up. He most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer for both MERGE and Sandbox after selling the agency he built, Two West, to Sandbox in 2016. After several years as Whitehill’s banker, Crux investor Grant Burcham made the introduction to Founder & CEO Melea McRae through his involvement as McRae’s mentor through the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP).

Whitehill was especially drawn to Crux’s unique business model, diverse client base, broad community engagement and winning company culture.

“There’s a gap in the marketing industry where smaller businesses can fall through the cracks,” Whitehill said. “In a lot of ways, small-to-mid-sized businesses require more agile marketing expertise than large companies because they must constantly balance growth, transformation and long-term sustainability. That’s not easy when you have more limited resources. I consider myself an entrepreneur first and a marketer second, and I’m thrilled by the opportunity to apply both skillsets to help Crux and its clients succeed.”

Crux combines executive-level marketing and business strategy to provide a simple, smart and affordable outsourced alternative to the . Crux engages with its clients as either a full or partial marketing team depending on client size and need. The company’s business development was undeterred by the pandemic as it secured new local clients, including Hoefer Welker, Morgan Hunter, Pipeline Entrepreneurs, the City of Mission, Kansas, CrossFirst Bank, and SourceLink®, as well as several in the Dallas market.

Since launching in 2016, Crux KC has grown from just two clients and one full-time employee to more than 40 clients and a team of 21 to-date, 10 of which were added since January. The company increased its topline revenue by 40% in 2020 and plans to increase headcount even further in anticipation of 60% revenue growth by the end of 2021. July 2021 marked Crux’s five-year anniversary in business.

Whitehill believes Crux is in a “critical moment” for its stage of growth as it continues to scale by adding new clients and talent to its staff — and that striking the delicate balance of culture and structure is key to a marketing firm’s continued success.

“I’m incredibly proud to have someone of Ethan’s caliber and expertise leading the team from an internal perspective, which enables me to focus on Crux’s external presence, business development and community involvement,” McRae said. “Bringing Ethan onboard is pivotal for Crux as we reflect on our accomplishments at the fifth-year mark. It’s also a crucial phase for us to calibrate our goals for the next decade and beyond.”

The company is currently on the hunt for its new downtown office space as it plans to double its square footage for the second time in as many years.

“The opportunity to work with Crux allows me to return to my roots, reconnect with my local network and combine what I love about both the industry and Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community,” Whitehill said. “The timing is right, and I couldn’t be more excited to help Crux build to the next level.”


About Crux KC

Founded in 2016, Crux KC is Kansas City’s “un-agency,” merging executive-level marketing and business strategy to provide a simple, smart and affordable marketing solution for our clients. Because when you’re a business leader looking for growth, you’d rather just get to the point. Crux is your in-house marketing department—outsourced. Everything you need, nothing you don’t. Learn more at






About the author: Crux KC is a Kansas City marketing firm (and the city’s first “un-agency”) that merges executive-level marketing and business strategy to provide a simple, smart and affordable outsourced marketing solution for clients.

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