About us: our team

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Meet the band: Disco Coffeepot
(formerly Untested Catapult)
go team
the great and powerful josh

Joshua Shull

Owner & CEO, Lead Vocals
As the founder of an ad agency that was a one-man show for 12 years, Josh has worn every hat. From ideas and strategy, to audio, writing, photography, videography, and graphic design, to editing and mixing, to traditional & digital ad buying, to social media, SEM, analytics and reporting, to vendor and client management, Josh tackled it all by himself for over a decade, which gives him a breadth of experience in every relevant area of local business marketing.

While many people are either artists or rule followers, Josh learned how to be both, becoming a creative idea factory who also demands an unwavering allegiance to brand consistency and discipline. Blessed with a natural ability to think comprehensively and understand how all the dots connect, this rare skillset has made him one of BloNo’s most successful brand strategists, while his commitment to strong and courageous content continues to give local clients a “big look” that secures their position as the leaders in their categories.
With the expansion of the team, Josh can now take off some hats and focus more on purpose than projects. He’s a “why” guy, who loves to go deep, and is in his element while having courageous conversations about significant topics (which means he’s terrible at small talk and networking). Preferring clarity to brevity, the length of his emails is legendary. He can’t stand talking on the phone, but would love to go have a coffee with you.

Strong Local Insight
“I grew up in Arrowsmith, graduated from Illinois Wesleyan, and have lived here ever since, but I’m still discovering new and amazing aspects of this town all the time. Bloomington is anchored in both history and progress, and brands like State Farm, Country, Beer Nuts, and Rivian prove that national impact can be made from the small city level. BloNo is the ideal place to live and work in the Midwest, and given the presence of other talented agencies, one of our goals is to contribute to BloNo’s growing reputation as an unlikely capital for advertising, marketing, and web design.”

Courageous Facts
Josh loves the Bible and will talk with you about it for literally hours. He’s fascinated by American history, and is currently reading Ron Chernow’s biography on George Washington. He loves to hike in the woods, drink craft beer, travel, and is on a mission to visit every Major League Baseball stadium (23 down, 7 to go). A prolific writer, Josh has authored over a dozen Bible studies for small groups, and has self-published a book on Amazon. In a previous life, he was Whiplash on Rock 106 in Peoria, sang lead vocals and drummed in a metal band called Gauntlet, and won the WYZZ All-Star Treasure Chest for his artistic rendition of Thundercats.
jess - did someone say coffee?

Jessica Shull

Director of Operations, Bass & Back Up Vocals
In the middle of the pandemic, on July 4, 2020, Jessica Shull decided to step away from an 18-year career as an analyst and manager in Marketing, Innovation, and Technology at State Farm Insurance to join the JoshuaOneNine team as its Operations Director. Her organizational, leadership, and project management skills are unmatched, and in addition to her roles on client projects, Jessica also handles CFO and HR duties, spearheads new business development, and is the contact for new employees and interns. She also brings a passion for philanthropy, loves making charts, graphs, and leading whiteboard brainstorming sessions, is an eager networker, and a strong advocate for keeping the human element at the center of any project.

Strong Local Insight
“While in college at IWU, a local State Farm Insurance Agent gave me his number and said that if I was ever stuck, or lost or in a bind and needed help, to call the office or call him. He meant it sincerely. He had a daughter a little younger than me. It meant a lot in that moment. Looking back, it’s little surprise that I spent most of my career helping insurance agents with marketing. Experiencing their impact on communities had a huge influence on how I began to really see local businesses and their potential to transform a community from the inside out. BloNo is filled with local business owners like this. It’s a pleasure to help them grow.”

Courageous Facts
Jessica is an avid writer, and has extensive leadership experience mentoring young women in both professional and Christian small group settings. She has visited more than 50 American cities, and traveled the world, from China to Greece to Australia to Israel to Jamaica. A thrillseeker, she has been skydiving & bungy jumping, used to own and ride a Harley, and raced snowmobiles to raise money for families fighting breast cancer. She loves Jesus and firmly believes you can never have too many whiteboards.
nick f

Nick Fetty

Content Creator: Websites & Freelance Shoots, Drums
From Georgia via extended stints in Maryland and Michigan, journeyman creator and preacher’s kid (PK) Nick Fetty joined the team in 2019 with an extensive toolbox of production skills. From content capture (photography, videography, audio, drones, lighting), to post-production (editing, mixing, color grading), to creating ideas from scratch (graphics, logos, websites), and even producing live broadcasts, Nick is a Swiss Army knife capable of creating almost anything. For 3.5 years, Nick's raw talent, constant commitment to improvement, and passion for stocking the Gear Closet, cemented JoshuaOneNine's reputation as the local leaders in photo and video content for advertising. In February 2023, Nick decided to pursue his next challenge by accepting a full-time position with another company, but he remains the ongoing remote designer and manager of JoshuaOneNine client websites, and occasionally still helps with a photo or videoshoot on a freelance basis. Though no longer at the office every day, he's still a part of the team, and his impact will be felt for as long as JoshuaOneNine exists.

Strong Local Insight
“Having only lived in the BloNo area for less than five years, I’m still exploring all central Illinois has to offer. But I love all kinds of food, and there’s no shortage of restaurants. (Shout out to Yoder's Country Market in Roanoke for making an incredible Amish wet-bottom shoofly pie.) Doing photoshoots around town has helped me navigate the community, and working in a historic downtown building has been a daily treat. Despite moving out of a full-time role, I'm still living in the area and looking forward to finding more great restaurants...which hopefully have sweet tea and fresh seafood."

Courageous Facts
Nick has moved 16 times, owns over 600 movies, and despite remaining heavily involved with a local church, he is the only member of his family who isn’t a pastor. He owns a separate media production company working primarily with nonprofit organizations like churches and community outreach programs who need guidance in photography, video, and web design.
sara - sugar is my friend

Sara Stephens

Content Creator: Graphic Design, Guitars
Less than 48 hours after graduating from ISU with a degree in Graphic Communications Technology, Sara Stephens woke up early on a Monday and became a professional brand designer and business lady. Since then, she's absorbed seismic life events at a nonstop pace while shooting up the charts as a rising star in Graphic Design. In reverse order, her greatest strengths are Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Sass. Most days, she can be found wrapped in a blanket, eating snacks, and vibin' to podcasts while managing brand assets, designing ad campaigns, and properly rebuilding something Josh hacked together in Photoshop 4 years ago. Don't even talk to her about days when there are no snacks, and when she sees no dogs. Those are the worst. But with her lightning-fast wit, gigantic heart, and unlimited potential, Sara is the best.

Strong Local Insight
“I moved from Cowden to Normal in 2018 for college and spent 2 years at Heartland before transferring to ISU. If you're going out, get me something from The Rock in Uptown, steak tacos from Tony’s, or cupcakes from Sugar Mama. Also, fresh peaches at the Farmer's Market. I love watching how the different strengths of our team work together to create brands that show BloNo how wonderful our local clients are!"

Courageous Facts
Sara loves animals (especially cows) and babies, and therefore loves almost every ad on television. She waters Steve and David (the office plants), and is consistently the best part of Mailman Brent's day. From Papa Smurf to Tri-sara-tops, her costumes are legendary, and she is currently in the process of buying the 3rd floor Coke machine. She loves getting to do graphic design every day. But mostly, she loves chatting with you in the elevator, even if she sometimes forgets to change out of her moovers (fuzzy cow slippers).
nick j - mr. sarcastic

Nick Jones

Digital Marketing Specialist, Keyboards
In the Spring of 2022, after previous stops at Four Seasons Health Club and State Farm Bank, Nick Jones wanted to get back into digital marketing and decided to join a small team that already had a Nick. So in a testament to his kind, easy-going character, he agreed to be called Jones, helping everyone avoid confusion. When it comes to advertising content, we like to say that Nick and Sara create it, and Jones makes sure people see it, as he's regularly scheduling and posting content to client social media and other digital ad platforms. But mostly, if you walk by Jones' screen, you'll see it filled with data, graphs, and numbers as he continues to sharpen his expertise in Google PPC Search, running A/B tests, tracking conversions, and making optimization his middle name.

Strong Local Insight
“I was born and raised here in Bloomington and haven't left since. I call myself a 3rd generation 'townie,' as my grandparents first moved here in their late 20’s (so you could say our family has an affinity for this area). Growing up, my family had regular game nights and frequently visited Grady’s mini golf course, which got increasingly more competitive with my two brothers. But I still crushed them, obviously. From restaurants to running trails to workout gyms, I’ve always appreciated the diversity of activities this town has to offer."

Courageous Facts
Jones is a fitness enthusiast (currently working on the handstand), and geeks out about chess and Settlers of Catan. A former leader at Encounter, he loves serving on short-term missions trips, including stops in Kenya, Mexico, and the D.R. He's color-blind, so he isn't threatening Sara's graphic design job, but he does love digital marketing and became a dad in June 2022, so he’s still perfecting his dad jokes.


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Stand for something, or you will fall
for anything.

JoshuaOneNine Values

Here’s what we stand for and affirm:
Company PVB (Purpose, Vision, Brand Statement)
JoshuaOneNine believes you are worth a new creation, and we’re shaping a community that feels local, but never small. We’re a relational marketing agency that creates and distributes strong & courageous content for local brands.

Core Values
We unashamedly embrace Jesus Christ, Scripture, prayer, and welcome discussions with anyone about faith-based questions, struggles, and victories while also seeking ways to charitably give our time, talents & resources back to the community. We value integrity alongside ability and character alongside competency. This company is about more than just doing a certain kind of job; it's also about being a certain kind of person.

JoshuaOneNine Culture

Here’s what it’s like inside our office:
The Monday Take-Off & the Friday Landing
First thing Monday morning, the full team meets to review the top priorities, doublecheck capacity, and seek clarity for the week ahead. Then first thing Friday morning, we regroup and determine what still needs finished by EOD in order to land the plane. The meetings begin when you hear the loud plane sound effects...
Daily 1-Ups
Each morning, we put a different client in the spotlight, and the full team spends 15 minutes discussing everything that’s on their agenda. Only one client is “up” each day, so we call it the Daily 1-Up. This ensures we never go more than one week without having comprehensive conversations about any client projects or relationships. The meetings begin when you hear the Super Mario Bros. 1-Up sound effect...
1 up mushroom
Strong Thoughts
Every Tuesday afternoon, the full team gathers and someone shares a Strong Thought...then we all react, either in agreement or disagreement, for 9 minutes. It can be about literally anything, and we rotate which team member is up each week. In the past, we’ve heard such strong thoughts as “Cereal is just cold soup,” “Found footage horror is the best type of horror,” “Christmas doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving,” “Printed receipts are silly,” and “One-way streets are dumb,” among dozens of others. In addition to being a fun team-building exercise where we learn about each other, it also encourages us to develop (and share) opinions instead of being apathetic and wishy-washy. “I don’t care,” “It doesn’t matter,” and “Whatever,” aren’t productive approaches to life.
OneNine OneNine
Every Wednesday morning is Bible study. The team meets 1 day a week at 9am and talks about 1 passage for 9 minutes. It’s the OneNine OneNine, and a dozen verses (or so) at a time, we’ve gone through the Gospel of John. We're currently in the Book of Acts.
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Courageous Conversations
Every Thursday afternoon, the full team gathers, someone picks a random topic out of the jar of controversial topics, and we have a courageous conversation for 9 minutes. Past topics have included “Self-Driving Cars: What do Autonomous Vehicles Mean for the Future?”, “Aliens & Religion: What Does it Mean if They Exist?”, “Are Zoos Ethical?”, and “What are the Pros & Cons of Beauty Pageants?”...among dozens more. Aside from being a fun, fascinating break from daily work, CC’s reinforce the importance of diverse viewpoints while developing the courage to wade into conversations that matter.
Chicken SHOTS!
At the end of every day, the full team gathers to take shots on our table-top, finger catapult mini-basketball hoop. Everybody gets three shots a day, from either 1-pt, 2-pt, or 3-pt range, and Friday is free-for-all Friday where you get to keep going if you make your 3rd shot. Smack talk is encouraged. You know it’s gametime when you hear the shrill, painful SqUaWk of the Hug Me Chicken, who is sorta the office mascot.
chicken shots 1chicken shots 2
Mood & Vibe
Honestly, most days, in-between our benchmark meetings above, we’re grinding away at our desks, working on projects, rocking our Air Pods and earbuds, locked-into our own zone. We’d describe it as a mostly low-key, focused work environment with regular bursts of team brainstorming, on-location shoots, studio shoots, team lunches, random bakery runs, presentations, and client visits. It’s a good balance, whether you see yourself as an introvert or an extrovert. We also have a strict rule about not wearing blue shirts with khaki pants because it’s the unofficial uniform of every bored, disenchanted corporate analyst who despises their job, symbolizing everything soul-sucking and energy-crushing about lame cubicle mediocrity. So yeah, we're gonna avoid that.


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Finding height and light in the heart
of downtown Bloomington.
Illinois house building

JoshuaOneNine Headquarters

Perched in the penthouse of the historic Illinois House Building
Why Downtown?
Downtown is the source of local identity. What does a city prioritize? What is it known for? How is it different from the town next door? Those questions are best answered by visiting Downtown. At their best, Downtowns are vibrant and alive, full of diverse people and viewpoints. And given that Downtowns are usually the oldest part of a city, they offer a mix of tradition and experimentation, a bustling blend of familiar classics and new culture.

When JoshuaOneNine decided to expand beyond the home-office, several options were on the table. There’s plenty of available commercial property in Bloomington-Normal, including on the ever-expanding east side of town. We toured offices over there. They’re certainly nice. And comfortable. And might even have made us sound impressive to new clients if we had “an office on the east side.”

But we’re not really about comfort here. We’re about strength and courage.

More importantly, we love local. And it’s our firm belief that whatever positive impact Bloomington is still yet to make upon the stage, it will be rooted in Downtown. And if it doesn’t start in Downtown, it’ll eventually run through it. It always has. Business. History. Arts. Government. Music. Religion. Journalism. Architecture. Food. Charity. Education. Everything this town is known for either started (or still is) in Downtown, either in Downtown proper or within a few blocks any direction of it. Much as this town may want to keep pushing its centerpoint eastward, the gravitational force of Downtown remains inescapable.

Nevertheless, among some locals, a popular pasttime continues to be complaining about the current state of Downtown, lamenting its past decisions, and entertaining no suggestions about revisiting its future. Many in Bloomington-Normal have emotionally abandoned it, seeing it as a lost cause. We’ve tried to make Downtown happen, they say. It didn’t work. Let’s not throw good money after bad. Cut our losses. Let’s just focus East. That’s where the people are. That’s where the money is. It’s sad, but ours is just another crumbling Downtown in an America increasingly full of them...

Respectfully, that’s nonsense.

Strengthen your core, and the rest of the body follows. Deepen the roots and there’s no need to fear the wind. Or as someone famously said, “I am the vine. You are the branches.” Likewise, a truly healthy Bloomington won’t happen without a healthy Downtown. You can’t ignore half a city and pretend it’s thriving.

Maybe we’re more tuned into this truth because we’re marketing people who understand that the flashiest ad campaign in the world isn’t going to generate sustainable success if your core business is flawed. Also as advertising people, we know the power of symbolism. And if we’re serious about loving local (we are), the best way to walk-that-walk is to plant ourselves Downtown. Right in the thick of it. It felt disconnected to claim to be for BloNo without committing to its heart. Plenty of complainers are part of the problem. We’re here to be part of the solution. And in our own small way, whether by bringing a handful of jobs, increased activity, or simply by being a vocal champion, JoshuaOneNine wants to be part of Downtown’s future, and in so doing, be part of Bloomington’s future.

Why the Illinois House Building?
Once the decision was made to locate Downtown, the next question was...where? As an advertising and marketing agency, we do a lot of brainstorming. A lot of thinking. A lot of scribbling and idea generating. And it’s our opinion that creative work doesn’t happen very well in a basement. Or even in a mid-level suite where your window view is a bunch of traffic, the solid gray wall of the neighboring building, or the parking lot of an industrial park.

Instead, to capture the creative, inspirational environment that contributes to our daily work, we decided to prioritize height and light, and look for a space that offered both. Height in the sense that we were up in the air (preferably on the top floor with a nice view), and also a place that, if possible, had high ceilings (so we didn’t feel suffocated). And light in the sense that there were plenty of windows (for natural light) combined with an open floor plan (so you could see across the office and not have to spend time in dark rooms or dim, confined spaces). We didn’t know if this combination existed in a building downtown (and if it did, whether it would be available), but, like with our clients, we start with the “why” and build around it.

After exploring a few places, Jessica found the Illinois House Building during a search one day, and we took a tour with Terry, the on-site maintenance professional. While the ‘feel’ of the building is somewhat similar throughout (lots of browns and golds), we noticed that each level was different in its own way, adding some interesting design diversity from floor to floor. The historic elevator is cozy, but great for chats, and adds another element of charm to the experience. Mostly though, building owner Darrell Hartweg proved to be kind, responsive, and shared a passion for Downtown Bloomington just like us. As an added bonus, Jack Lewis Jewelers (one of our clients) started in this building back in 1927, and the original jewelry safe is still in the basement because it was too heavy to move!

Through a stroke of luck, a small office was available on the top floor, giving us an incredible view from high atop Downtown, looking north. And through an even more fortuitous dash of destiny, adjacent to that small office was a larger space that had sat undeveloped and empty for over 20 years. No power, no plumbing, no electrical. Just a sprinkler system and the best view in the city, as its multiple windows offer views as far West and North as the eye can see. It even has 13-foot ceilings. It’s the historic, penthouse gem of Downtown, and very few seemed to know about it. It was almost like it was waiting for us to develop it...

With a trustworthy local management team and a space that seemed tailor-made for height and light in the heart of historic Downtown Bloomington, all the boxes were checked. We pulled the trigger.

Current Home
In January 2022, JoshuaOneNine completed our buildout expansion into Suite 605. In partnership with fellow Downtown businesses Scharnett Architects and Catalyst Construction, the new JoshuaOneNine features a 300 sqft photo & video recording studio with 13' ceilings and multiple motorized backdrops (including a 24' green screen), as well as a Vocal Booth for audio narrations. There's also a spacious Kitchenette & Common Area, complete with multiple bar height tables and a built-in kegerator. The large glass Conference Room is perched in the northwest corner, and is the crown jewel spot for the best indoor sunset and fireworks views in the City.
joshuaonenine location
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Settle in. Grab a coffee. And maybe
(hopefully) be motivated.

JoshuaOneNine Origin Story

How we got here, and why.
After 6 years working in Peoria/Bloomington radio (on-air as Whiplash on Rock 106, then later in sales), Joshua Shull stepped out in faith at age 26 and launched JoshuaOneNine Marketing House on January 1, 2007, which operated as a one-man show from Josh’s home-office for the next 12 years. As a believer and Jesus-follower, Josh wanted the business to be rooted in biblical values from its inception, and knew naming the company after a Bible verse would reinforce that foundation. “My name was Joshua, so I turned to that book and started reading,” he says. “It only took 9 verses before something grabbed me.”

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

With the Christian roots in place, the next 12 years would prove that verse to be somewhat prophetic, as time-and-again, Josh learned just how relevant strength and courage are to brand-building and local business marketing. The initial wave of local Bloomington-Normal clients included Heartland Community College, Adrian’s Shoes & Repair, DaVinci Floorcovering & Design, and the Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center (OSMC). But a significant transition would happen beginning in 2011, when Jack Lewis Jewelers, Flingers Pizza Pub, and Bloomington-Normal Audiology joined the roster. After four years of learning the ropes, Josh, then 30, was hitting his professional marketing stride just as leading local business owners like John Carter, Pat Fruin, and Natalie McKee were hitting theirs. The timing was perfect, solidifying brands and relationships that continue to this day.

The years between 2012 – 2018 were exciting and fulfilling. Working exclusively for only a small number of clients, Josh could continue to be a one-man show, work from the home-office, travel the world with his wife, and have time to pour himself into leadership activities at his church. He rarely talked about work. Despite doing marketing, JoshuaOneNine didn’t have a website and didn’t post anything to its social media pages. He didn’t attend Chamber events or network with other business owners. He had no idea how many other ad agencies were in-town because “competition” wasn’t even on his radar. He wasn’t looking to grow, and declined multiple opportunities to work with new clients because he didn’t want the additional capacity. Like in his radio days, he was the man behind the curtain, heard but not seen, in the shadows, out of the spotlight, producing content the whole town had seen, but never knew who created it. And for the better part of a decade, this ‘anonymous influencer’ role suited him just fine. Life was amazing, and Josh was able to spend most of his 30’s in relaxed, stress-free comfort. Sounds great, right?

Problem is… we’re not made for relaxed, stress-free comfort.

In early 2018, Josh became increasingly, naggingly, continually pestered by this question: what are you doing that requires any faith? It’s one of the more convicting questions a Christian confronts, and God bless you if it ever invades your brain, because it opens the floodgates... Is contentment and comfort all there is? Is that the goal: have fun and be happy? Where is your fruit? What are you multiplying? Are you maximizing the gifts you’ve been given toward what really matters? Or are you being a delinquent steward?

Those gut-level, purpose-driven questions coincided with the stark professional reality that, by 2018, Josh, then 37, had hit his ceiling. He’d gone as far as he could on his own. Not to mention, the world of marketing was ever-expanding in its platforms and complexity, and it’s more than a one-man-show working from a home-office can competently handle, especially for local brands that were rapidly growing. The truth is, things can never stay the same forever. Acknowledging this is easy. The hard part is acting on it before it’s too late. And you know what that takes?

Strength and courage.

The turning point came during a pivotal 48-hour stretch between June 30 – July 1, 2018, which detonated an awakening that catalyzed the JoshuaOneNine expansion once and for all. But that’s a long story for another time…

Suffice it to say, it was an earthquake that demanded a decision. Then there was no turning back. After 12 years, JoshuaOneNine was expanding. For business reasons, yes, but mostly from a soul-rattling desire to fully steward whatever gifts had been given instead of burying them in the ground. You weren’t made to relax in comfort from the sidelines. You were made to live, to image, to be fruitful and multiply, to be in the arena, impacting, influencing, shaping, and taking public steps of faith that put you in the position to be used as the voice through whom the Gospel can impact those around you.

In late 2018 and early 2019, Josh began looking for an actual office headquarters and eventually settled on the top floor of the historic Illinois House Building in downtown Bloomington. The brand distinctives were updated with a new logo (for stylistic reasons, Josh decided to spell-out the name of the business and smush it altogether with no spaces, making it JoshuaOneNine instead of Joshua 1:9), icon (the colon commonly found in Bible verses), color scheme (bread and wine), fonts (Roboto), and slogan (strong and courageous content).

In September 2019, PK and creative production Swiss army knife Nick Fetty joined the team from Joliet as JoshuaOneNine’s first employee. Little did we know that a worldwide pandemic would hit just 7 months later. Nevertheless, the growth continued, as Illinois Wesleyan #1 draft pick Caleb Green joined the team in June 2020 to handle Google and digital marketing, followed by perennial management and operational all-star Jessica Shull leaving an 18-year career at State Farm to anchor the team in July 2020.

Gingerbread House Toys, Vrooman Mansion, and Scharnett Architects were added to the roster in 2020 and 2021. And as this is being written in 2022, JoshuaOneNine is about to bring a handful of new local brands into the fold while settling into our new headquarters on the top floor of the Illinois House Building. And now, since you’re reading this, our website is rocking too.

The future is bright. There’s impact to make. There’s lives to influence. For the community’s good. For the Gospel. You weren’t made for comfort. You were made for clout.

Be strong and courageous. The Lord God is with you wherever you go. So let’s go.
If you’ve come this far, you should probably definitely maybe reach out. After all that, we’re not sure what else we could say. Still, you could always take a look at the Local Brands we’ve helped thusfar. Hopefully the work speaks for itself.