President, Erwin Penland
Entrepreneur Joe Erwin is the President and co-founder of Erwin Penland, which represents national and regional clients including Verizon Wireless, Denny’s, Michelin, Lockheed Martin and General Motors.
A graduate of Clemson University, Joe began his career at Greenville’s Leslie Advertising and was soon recruited to join DMB&B in New York, where he worked on the Corning Glass Works and Quincy’s Family Steakhouse accounts. In 1986, Joe and his wife Gretchen – also a marketing professional – returned to Greenville to purchase Penland Advertising. Together they opened Erwin Penland with one account, two employees, and a big goal: extraordinary work, coupled with extraordinary customer service.
Twenty-seven years later, that focus is still the hallmark of the agency. Only, instead of two employees there are now 375 located in Greenville, New York & Detroit. And they work across a wide range of integrated marketing disciplines which now includes digital, mobile, social and content marketing; experiential branding; media and analytics; digital asset management; and public relations. As a result, the agency has seen consistent growth and received countless awards for creative and strategic excellence.
Joe personally oversees Erwin Penland’s pro bono work and diversity initiatives, and is deeply involved in nurturing the company’s entrepreneurial culture. The agency has been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work” by Advertising Age, PR News and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and for having one of the best internship programs in the country.
In 2008, Joe and members of Erwin Penland’s leadership team created the annual Food for Thought conference, which has brought hundreds of influencers from around the country to Greenville for an experiential “unconventional convention.” The highly personalized event showcases creative thinking across business, non-profit, artistic, educational and culinary endeavors, and highlights some of the best food and locations this region has to offer.
Active in the community and the advertising industry, Joe has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the South Carolina Special Olympics, the Governor’s Commission on Teacher Quality, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
In 2012, Joe and Gretchen made an investment in the future of marketing by making a gift to Clemson University to establish the Erwin Center for the Study of Advertising and Communications.