Channel Bakers founder and Chief Executive Josh Kreitzer has built a 20-year career in retail marketing and media that started in Orange County.
He began in 1998 with Irvine-based distribution giant Ingram Micro, long one of the OC’s largest tech companies. Kreitzer moved up from the call center to working as a product manager and helped close the purchase order for Apple’s first iPod launch in 2001.
Kreitzer then moved into advertising and became an account executive for Buy.com in Aliso Viejo, creating and selling advertising vehicles. He spent the next 12 years gaining expertise in retail and e-commerce at various California companies including Rakuten.com, Corsair Memory and GoPro.
In 2015, he decided to quit his day job and founded his own multichannel e-commerce agency to help brands grow their presence and sales in various industry channels.
The ace up his sleeve was his previous participation in the newly launched digital advertising platform from Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) as a beta tester.
The name Channel Bakers was pulled from an earlier brand campaign dubbed “grow the dough” that Kreitzer created for Intel to help educate new shoppers.
Based in Anaheim, the firm made $50,000 in its first year. Sales reached $12 million in 2019—only for the pandemic to temporarily stall business in 2020.
As of June 2022, Channel Bakers reported revenue of $19 million, up 121% from two years ago. The agency debuted on the Business Journal’s list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies this year, ranking No. 8 in the Midsize category (see list, page 42).
“Everybody panicked for a second, then realized e-commerce was the way out [of the pandemic],” Kreitzer told the Business Journal.
‘Building the Airplane’
Kreitzer chose to headquarter in OC knowing the top clientele was based locally. He was looking for “channel marketers” in the consumer technology industry.
Stores like Target and Walmart are considered within the “brick-and-mortar” channels while Lowe’s and Home Depot are categorized under “home improvement,” Kreitzer said.
Amazon is the “retail internet” channel.
His team’s job is to increase a client’s value and drive sales through each channel and retailer.
The company currently helps over 500 brands with retail media and commerce with 250,000 campaigns on its résumé.
During the pandemic, the firm was busy helping brands skyrocket e-commerce initiatives and launch business websites or debut on ad sites.
In the company’s first few years, Kreitzer had made sure to keep up with trends and reinvested into his agency at every turn. With every new advertising platform that came out, Channel Bakers made sure to specialize in each one to then offer its clients.
“We were building the airplane while we were in the air,” Kreitzer said.
The firm has become one of Amazon’s largest independent, privately held ad agencies. His team manages about $250 million a year in Amazon advertising alone.
Kreitzer has opened four offices abroad with three in Asia and one in Scotland.
He also created an in-house program to help his team get up to speed on the constantly evolving platforms and trends. The firm nicknamed it the “absurd university” referring to how absurdly fast the industry changes.
“When retailers decided they wanted to be digital, we were there to help the marketers grow with them and go through the digital transformation,” Kreitzer said.
The developing trend now is how to leverage social and retail, which the founder said it’s where things are going next—helping marketers go from physical shelves to mobile apps and more.
According to Kreitzer, the fastest-growing advertising sector has been streaming TV. This makes the firm’s audience even larger.
“Even if you don’t sell a product that belongs on a retail shelf, you too can still use retail media to drive traffic to your own website,” he said.
The founder is now looking for clients outside retail, including bookings sites, car dealerships and hotel chains.
“I want pioneers who are on the forefront of where media is going to be next.”