Sep 11, 2018

Power in Partnerships

This year, we had the opportunity to work with Cascade Web Development to launch the new Tonkon Torp website. As we kicked off the project, Ben Mckinley, CEO at Cascade, and I realized that both agencies have a similar approach to partnerships. We both believe in focusing on what we do best, and bringing in partners to do the rest.

As part of the conversation, we realized that similar questions often arise because of this approach. Our goal with this blog was to tackle some of these FAQs on partnerships.

Question: Why choose a tight team of subject matter experts v. a full service agency?

Ben: First of all, agencies, by definition, often partner with contractors to deliver on client needs. The challenge with this is that clients often rely on project and account managers to create and refine needs. These project and account professionals are typically generalists and much stands to be lost in translation from the experts. When we partner with other subject matter experts, we stand shoulder to shoulder to ensure our clients receive direct access to the pros.

Kathya: When you have a room filled with people that are masters of their craft, you get a better product. The natural dialogue that this instigates drives quality, functionality and innovation forward. It’s also a lot of fun because you have a room filled with people that are very passionate about what they do and respect each other’s expertise.

Question: How do you stay focused on your core business?

Ben: Oftentimes, agencies start with a narrow focus that broadens over time as they add new services. This only works if the new service offerings are up to the standard of the core focus. Admittedly, Cascade has struggled with this in the past. We’ve learned from these challenges and now elect to cultivate strong partnerships.

Kathya: We believe there’s as much power — if not more — in knowing what you’re not good at, as knowing what you are. Clear definition of what we do and how we do it has allowed us to stay focused, work with clients that understand the value we bring, and walk away from projects that are not a good fit. Partnerships not only give us the benefit of bringing in the right team to specific projects, but they also allow us to refer prospects and clients to other agencies that may serve them better when we don’t offer the services they seek.

Want more answers? Keep reading over at Cascade’s blog.


Ben McKinley is founder and CEO of Cascade Web Development. Founded in 2001, Cascade focuses on complex web strategy, design and development of solutions that allow our clients to effectively tell their stories and crush their organizational goals.

Managing Director Kathya Acuña leads the Conveyor client services team. Conveyor is a strategic communication and marketing agency specializing in business storytelling. We combine brand strategy, communication and storytelling to help clients reach the people they care about.

Conveyor and Cascade teamed up to do a full-site refresh for Tonkon Torp, Portland’s premier law firm for business counsel and litigation. With more than 90 attorneys, dozens of practice areas and a legacy spanning four decades, the project required a combination of business storytelling, streamlined design and expert development to bring Tonkon Torp’s new brand to life. The site launched in April of 2018, and you can see the results here: