When Harquin Creative Group Creative Director Sherry Bruck and her husband, Vice President of Business Development Fred Bruck, leave the Sanborn Map Building in Pelham around 5 pm each day, their 8-year-old Wheaten terrier/“team motivator,” Dewey, is the only part of work they bring home with them. “We made a rule not to discuss work at home,” says Sherry, who also serves as Harquin Creative Group’s president. “Once we leave, we shut the door. It gets too intense and stressful otherwise.”
This strategy has served them well, they say, in the 20 years since they co-founded their creative branding agency, whose clients include Monroe College, New Rochelle Business Improvement District, Westchester County, New York Medical College, Westchester Library System, and New York Hospitality Group.
The couple, both 52, met in Sherry’s hometown of Welland, Ontario, where Fred was playing hockey part-time. They married in 1983—she was 22; he 23—and soon afterwards moved to New Rochelle. Fred sold printing in Manhattan and often referred business to Sherry, a graphic designer. After the birth of their oldest daughter in 1988 (their second was born in 1990), Sherry worked out of their home. But by 1992, she wanted to work in a more formal office environment, so, when they found ideal office space at the Sanborn Map Building—a mile from their house—they decided to formalize their business partnership.
They credit their successful partnership to having clearly defined roles: He handles the business side; she does the creative work. “You can’t have one person working for the other because then the balance of power gets out of whack,” she says. Still, battles flare up. “We’ve had high-volume fights,” Sherry confides. “There are things to this day we disagree on, but there’s a healthy way of fighting—no name-calling or digging up old grudges, and leaving work disagreements at work and personal disagreements at home.”
“We hate being passive-aggressive,” Fred says. “We’re good at letting things fly early on.”
The most trying time for their business was in 2009, after the stock-market crash, when marketing budgets were being slashed. They were unsure if Harquin would make it through the year. “A lot of our clients rallied for us because they saw a smaller, husband-and-wife, community-spirited company,” Fred says.
But not everyone loves it. “We once had a client say, ‘We need something bigger than a mom-and-pop shop,” he says. “It was pretty condescending. We know what’s out there, and our work kills some of these two-hundred-employee firms.” The Brucks love spending their time—at work and at home—together.
“We’re sick that way,” Fred says. “We golf together, too.”