Meet the CEO of Kahn and TREAD

Meet the Team: Dan Kahn CEO of both Kahn Media and TREAD

We go behind the scenes to meet the team at TREAD. Today we’re talking to Dan Kahn, CEO of both Kahn Media and TREAD, to hear about how he got started in the automotive industry and the inspiration behind the new agency, TREAD.

Q: What made you want to start Kahn Media?

A: I started my career as a journalist and enjoyed the storytelling and creative aspects of the job. But I also have an entrepreneurial spirit that made me want to learn more about business in general and, more specifically, learn about other companies and what makes them work. That made for an easy transition into PR and marketing. After working for a few other agencies, I had the idea back in 2008, around the time social media and Web 2.0 was really gaining traction, to build a business around the concept of integrated marketing. It would merge the best aspects of PR, brand storytelling, and digital marketing, all managed by one team under one roof. The idea worked, and while technology has changed and the team has grown, the core concept behind it remains our North Star all these years later. We simply love helping companies and brands tell their stories and connect with people.

Q: How did you get involved in outdoor recreation?

A: A love of the outdoors is in my DNA. My grandparents were both commodores of their local camping and boating club. I spent my childhood fishing with my grandfather, boating, and off-roading with my dad, and exploring public lands with my family. We didn’t do “normal” vacations like the other kids at school. They went to Hawaii and on cruise ships while we went shrimping in Alaska and slept under the stars in the Sierras. It was a great way to grow up, and I wanted my kids to have the same experience, so we committed to camping at least once a month, every month, from when my first daughter was born a dozen years ago. We also spend about a month per year boondocking on public land, and my wife has really gotten into off-roading, so we do a fair amount of that as well. To date, we have visited 19 national parks, about four dozen state parks and more national forests and BLM sites than I can count. My father-in-law and I also enjoy big game hunting and go on trips every few months as time, budget and tag availability allow. And I’m proud to say my son is a successful angler, and we spend a lot of time deep-sea fishing.

Q: What was the idea behind starting TREAD Agency?

A: Since Kahn Media is already well known and established in the automotive, aftermarket, off-road, and luxury/lifestyle markets, we wanted to continue to grow into the overland and outdoor space as well. Part of the reason was the obvious one from my answers above – I’m very passionate about the subject matter, so it sounded like a fun way to merge my work and personal life. But that didn’t mean we needed to start a new agency. The reality is that the outdoor industry is bigger than automotive, but it is also much more grassroots in many ways. There are so many small and mid-size brands and companies that are either mission-driven or were born out of a founder’s singular focus on solving a problem or pain point in a hobby they love (fishing, hunting, camping, shooting, climbing, etc.). It’s a really passionate group, and that passion is inspiring. I felt like we needed to follow the same playbook we used for Kahn Media and build something new – a new brand and agency with a new team that comes from that world. People who wake up every day thinking about how they can get outside. That was the core idea, and then back that team with a “common kitchen” of support teams, from creative artists to data-driven digital marketers to admin/finance/operations, shared across the two agencies. Then fate stepped in – we were looking to hire an account director when Jeff Dillow came to us from the outdoor industry. He joined KM shortly after starting TREAD and was prepared to leave it behind. We bought the agency from him, and fate intervened again when we connected with Beth Brennan, who has an impeccable reputation in the outdoor market. We tapped Beth to lead the charge, starting with a ground-up overhaul of the agency, and we were off and running. Since marketing is in a tremendous time of flux right now, we’ve heard from brands across the board that they need help, so the timing of this has been stellar. I see nothing but bright stars on the horizon.

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