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Jun 26

Nuts & Bolts: Behind the Scenes of a Digital Marketing Agency


In: Culture

At UNION, we value our people above all else. When Banks started the digital marketing agency 13 years ago, his ultimate goal was to create an environment where creative people enjoyed working together to make incredible things. We have stayed true to this principle over the years and are extremely proud of the team we’ve built. 

This series will introduce you to some of these creative people and provide a glimpse into the exciting, fast-paced life of the UNION team.

For this week's installment, we speak with seasoned back-end developer and resident athlete, Franco Valdes.

(1) Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role in the company? 

It is difficult to tell you a little about myself because there’s so much to say. However, I will do my best to keep it brief. I am Cuban and was born and raised in Miami, Florida (not Ohio). As 99% of Cubans do in Miami, I chased the dream of one day playing professional baseball. During that journey, I accomplished many great things, including a priceless education from the University of Virginia. Luckily, baseball is a sport based on failure, teaching both patience and tenacity; two characteristics that continue to serve me well.

It wasn’t until my baseball career was over that I got into design and development. Fast forward about four years and here I am at UNION — one of the best agencies I’ve worked with so far. I thoroughly enjoy working with Team Lunch as a back-end developer. Working together, we get to tackle interesting projects for awesome clients and continue learning about the constantly evolving world of technology.

(2) What led you to become a developer?

Do you gamble? Well that is how my design and development interest began. A good friend of mine made the mistake of betting me that I could not create, design and develop my own iPhone game. Little did he know… 

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I immediately started crafting the idea and reading up on mobile game development. Luckily, I found some incredible tutorials and even an entire iPhone Programming 101 class on iTunes U. After about six months of banging my head against my laptop, I am proud to report that my friend’s wallet is a little lighter and I successfully created my first iPhone game! Apple approved the game and it is still live in the App Store today. It’s a retro 2D puzzle game named RockSlide that requires you to build caves around a cavemen to protect him from a rockslide. Give it a download and let me know what you think!

From a technical perspective, my first encounter with development was mobile. In the iOS world, they call it Objective C. It’s a mix of C languages with a simpler “Smalltalk” style. Starting with this language provided a good foundation for me to move into PHP — what I do now on a daily basis. Even now when dealing with mobile applications, I choose to go with web based technologies like Cordova and Telerik.

(3) Favorite tools/apps?

 With regard to tools, I’m pretty sure I use them all. I’m constantly on the lookout for tools that can help me use my time more efficiently and work faster. I also use stackoverflow.com pretty religiously. This dependable Q&A site has been an incredible resource. Over the years, I've learned that any question I have, someone else has had it too.

(4) What is a typical day look like for you?

Typically, I start off most days meeting with our team to create a 20,000 ft view of our day and outline what we want to accomplish. Then, I focus into the specific tasks to determine what all I need to do to accomplish those tasks.

These tasks can include:

  • database management
  • php development
  • CMS integrations
  • writing queries
  • writing Javascript

In addition to this, I also remain available to assist our front-end developers and provide them with any data they need to continue bringing the original designs to life.

(5) Are there any projects that you're particularly proud of and why?

In terms of client work, I am proud of all of our projects. I’m also very proud of the fact that we're always pushing new technology and methodologies within our development teams. 

(6) What is your favorite part about working at UNION?

In addition to the Keurig machine, I enjoy the ability to explore solutions with the rest of the team. For example, a few weeks ago we figured out ways to clone static objects and make them interact in groups to portray an animation. The original goal was not to create this animation, but through working together to develop a solution, we discovered this interesting technique.

(7) Do you have any pets?

I have a wiener dog, some call him a Dachshund — but I call him Homer Chubbs. He’s a 16-week old rescue. In addition to coming into the office and creating all types of distractions, his other hobbies include anything involving treats.

Stay tuned for more updates and insights into the team that has made UNION one of the top digital marketing agencies.

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UNION is a full-service digital agency. We create experiences that help brands thrive. We believe to be relevant in today’s marketplace, brands must lead with a digital-first philosophy. We craft engaging digital experiences and integrated campaigns that are built on strategy and driven by data. At the heart of what we do is help brands create meaningful and enduring relationships with highly connected consumers.

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