Kevin Hourigan talks about Bayshore Solutions’ big change
Kevin Hourigan has one of those stories that, at first glance, might feel like you’ve heard it before.
Born and raised in the Northeast, once he found his way to sunny Florida, he never looked back.
Hourigan had an idea, ambition and drive and found success, after years of hard work and constant determination.
Sounds familiar, right? But to hear him recount the nuances on how he got to where he is, is a story that will make you laugh and warm your heart.
A jovial, friendly, guy he’s made quite a name for himself since his younger days, working in hospitality, on Clearwater Beach.
This year will mark a banner year for his company, Bayshore Solutions, a digital marketing and web development agency in Tampa and Denver, as it merged with Spinutech, creating what Hourigan calls, a full-service digital agency of the future.
The newly combined companies, which will operate under the name Spinutech, is projected to have revenue of $33 million in 2021.
It’s a testament to Hourigan’s leadership, and his ability to follow trends, while keeping his eye on the ball. One of his signature things to say is “Plan your work, work your plan.”
He has been recognized as Leader of the Year by the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, Technology Leader of the Year by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum and Marketer of the Year by the Tampa Bay American Advertising Federation.
He has spoken alongside brands like Google, Facebook, Carnival Cruise Lines and General Motors.
Not bad for a young man who left college with no clue what he wanted to do with his life.
Hourigan was born in Buffalo, New York, and was raised in an Irish-Catholic household.
His family moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, when he was 8 years old, and he lived there until he was about 18 years old. He graduated from an all-boys school, Cathedral Preparatory. The day after this graduation, Hourigan had to catch a flight and move to Florida.
“We were excited about moving. My dad had moved down here in October of my senior year and it was understood, after my graduation, the rest of the family would follow,” Hourigan says. “They weren’t kidding. The morning after I graduated, I was up at 6:30 a.m. and my dad had me on a flight.”
Originally, Hourigan wanted to attend John Carroll University in Cleveland and become a dentist.
“I really respected dentists as a kid,” Hourigan says. “The whole experience fascinated me.”
Some of his friend’s parents were dentists and he admired what, to him, appeared to be a solid job that provided a comfortable lifestyle.
He, ultimately, attended the University of South Florida. At the time, modern medicine was changing and there was an oversaturation of dentists in the field, he says.
“I needed to shift gears and find a new career,” he says. “It sent me kind of sideways, because I never thought of being anything but a dentist. I got out of school and didn’t really know what I was going to do.”
He had to figure it out quickly.
“I got home on a Friday [after graduating USF] and didn’t see my parents until Sunday. My dad asked me, ‘What are you going to do this summer?’ ” Hourigan recalls, adding he didn’t have a satisfying answer to that question, so his father continued: “You have until Friday to get a job or I’ll get one for you.”
And that was that.
Hourigan was out at Clearwater Beach one day and had made the last-minute decision to, at least, try applying for a job.
“I’m literally in shorts. I had been on the beach most of the day, it’s a Friday afternoon, but I know that if I don’t go home that day and tell my parents that I at least tried to apply for jobs, there would be consequences,” he says.
He visited the front desk of Holiday Inn Surfside, which was owned by the same company that owned Ritz-Carlton and it turned out the hiring manager was able to meet with him at that moment.
“I said, ‘Maybe I should come back, and wear something different.’ But they sent me down to meet with him.” Later that evening he received a call telling him he got the job.
While working with the hotel, Hourigan started management training and quickly learned that there was potential for growth if he played his cards right.
“It taught me a lot because the Ritz -Carlton training is all about the customer experience and customer service,” he says. “I remember it being an early foundation of training.”
He quickly realized he appreciated the satisfaction of setting goals, and accomplishing them, in a professional setting.
“I soon found myself on a pretty good trajectory,” Hourigan says.
But, as it often happens with young entrepreneurs, he realized he was working a lot and for someone else.
“One Tuesday night, after a few years of working for the hotel, I walked across the street to Frenchy’s Saltwater Café. I ordered a Bud Light, some fish spread and conch fritters,” he says remembering very vividly the details of this particular evening.
“A dad of a friend of mine’s walked in and stood next to him to order his food to go. He ordered a grouper sandwich, no bread, extra grouper and pickles.
“He asks me, ‘What are you having for dinner tonight?’ I said, ‘This spread and conch fritters.’ He then asks me, ‘What are you drinking?’ I replied, ‘A Bud Light,’” Hourigan laughs before he can even finish the story. “He said to me, ‘Sweet. Fish balls and beer for dinner tonight.’”
The two started chatting about where Hourigan worked, and how many hours he was putting in. The man eventually asked him, “What if you did that for yourself?”
“I went home that night, depressed to one degree but motivated in another,” Hourigan recalls.
He describes this brief interaction as one of those life-changing moments, when you question what you’re doing and where you’re going.
He slept on it, but in the back of his mind he knew there was something else he wanted to do he just didn’t know what it was yet.
Around this time, the hotel began converting from manual registration to computer systems. Hourigan had a knack for it and was being asked to help other hotels make the same, technology, transitions.
He realized technology was going to be an ever-growing need for all businesses.
As luck would have it, a friend of his had a computer company and would ask Hourigan, “What will it take for you to come work with me?”
Finally, Hourigan took the leap, only asking for what he was currently making in his salary, plus what he could make in sales.
The first year with the company, the company had $1.3 million in sales and $950,000 of that was sold by Hourigan.
He had found his direction.
“I was able to learn the business pretty quickly,” Hourigan says.
It wasn’t long before Hourigan realized he had caught the entrepreneurial bug.
He was offered a part of the company and stayed on for a while after. That company, Weblink Communications, was the origin of Bayshore Solutions.
Hourigan began operating Bayshore Solutions under that name in 2002. In 2021, it became Spinutech.
This merger will allow the two entities to join forces and reach clients across North America with a broader range of digital agency services.
The newly merged company will have more than 160 subject matter experts covering areas of digital advertising like strategy, copywriting, website development and more.
“We now have one of the largest, privately-held, pure digital agencies in North America,” Hourigan says.
Marc Reifenrath, previously president of Spinutech, will emerge as CEO, while Hourigan will serve as president.
“We’re building the agency of the future,” Reinfenrath says. “We start with the data and end with the data.”
It’s a satisfying next step in Hourigan’s journey, he says.
Also fitting: 2021 marks the 25th anniversary for Bayshore Solutions.
“None of it was really intentional. It was all opportunistic. Looking at opportunities and recognizing I wasn’t satisfied with where I was at,” Hourigan says of his journey. “I took some risks and some gambles to make it work.” ♦
A PASSION FOR WHEELS AND PHILANTHROPY
Hourigan’s father has been in the car business most of his life, and Hourigan himself is a self-proclaimed car guy.
“That’s a hobby of mine … when you’re the son of a car dealer, your parents get a new car every other month, or so,” he says. “My dad hated having a son that didn’t fall far from the tree, because I’d be in the new car playing with everything and moving things around. The next morning he’d get in and I hadn’t moved anything back.”
Hourigan says he gets how irritating it can be because now, his kids do it to him.
Hourigan has been married to his wife, Tammie, for 26 years and they have two sons. Both who have taken after Hourigan and his love of cars.
“There is not a day that goes by when we aren’t emailing, or texting, back and forth about cars,” Hourigan says.
For about 13 years, Hourigan had a Florida automotive dealer’s license and averaged about 12 new cars a year. He’s owned every brand of car except a Lamborghini, a Rolls Royce and an Aston Martin.
Right now his McLaren 650 Spyder is his “fun car.”
While he loves investing, and even profiting, in his love of cars that go fast. He’s also generous in his efforts to help his community.
Hourigan is a longtime supporter of the American Heart Association and has been on the cabinet for its annual Heart Ball for six years. He credits having people such as Lee Arnold, Paul Riley, Bill Edwards, Chuck Sykes and Ken Jones help to make it such a successful event, year after year, and inspires him to stay involved.
“The Heart Association has done a fantastic job of recruiting the right people. I think it’s their secret sauce,” Hourigan says. “It’s been an incredible experience to be around people that are so generous with their time, their relationships and their wallets,” he says. “I’ve been so fulfilled being a part of it.”