C Squared Social, recently ranked as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country by Inc. magazine, may be headquartered in San Diego, but the roots of the targeted social media marketing firm run to Durango.
Caleb and Cassidy Crail, the co-founding brothers of C Squared Social, grew up in Durango, often discussing business around the dinner table with their father, Frank Crail, the co-founder of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
“Dad had a small desk in his office for one of the children, and it was an honor to be selected to go with him to work. We were the honorary chocolatier of the day,” Caleb Cassidy recalled in a telephone interview.
Caleb said his father drove through Durango during a vacation and fell in love with the town, and in 1981, he moved the family to town from Orange County, California.
“He thought it would be a great place to raise a family,” Caleb said.
Caleb remembers his father contemplating a common problem for many new Durango residents: how to make a living.
“He felt Durango needed a car wash or a chocolate shop. He chose a chocolate shop to start up,” he said.
Frank Crail said when he started Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, he had no idea he would eventually take it public. He wasn’t even seeking rapid growth. He simply wanted a vibrant ma-and-pa shop in Durango that would pay the bills for his rapidly growing family.
He and his wife, Ruan, eventually had seven children, and six of the children now work at C Squared Social. Only one brother, Connor Crail, who serves as vice president with Callaway Golf, does not work for C Squared.
Besides Caleb and Cassidy, the other Crail children to have matriculated to C Squared are Cody Crail, director of sales; Casey Crail, director of finance; Katerli Crail Ponce, marketing and strategy director; and Karlye Crail Atwood, internal marketing director.
“Chocolate and kids pretty much go together,” Frank Crail said. “They loved to come to the factory to work with the chocolate, pack it, and especially eat it. They grew up watching a small company grow bigger, and I think that was intriguing.”
Frank Crail knew his children were smart and inquisitive, but he never pushed them toward an entrepreneurial path.
“I never encouraged them to start a business. I only wanted them to do what they liked, to pursue paths that interested them,” he said.
Caleb said his mother home-schooled all seven children, and along with his father, the simple ethos they pushed was to be creative and to take chances.
In 2001, Frank had moved the Crail family to Boise, Idaho, and the older children were in college or just beginning their careers.
Caleb, who is five years younger than Cassidy, decided to help his older brother manage a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise in Los Angeles. This partnership would lead to the foundation of C Squared Social.
“We were looking for a way to grow same-store sales,” he said. “You had billboards, newspapers, radio, traditional advertising, but nothing ideal for a small brick-and-mortar shop. Facebook was just starting to monetize in 2012. We thought there was a huge value with the people using the platform, and we could use their targeting tools to drive up sales at the shop.”
The effort indeed helped boost the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory’s shop in Los Angeles and led to the formation of C Squared Social, with the Crail brothers refining their targeted social media advertising principally to retail clients.
Since then, C Squared Social has expanded beyond helping firms with their social media advertising into human resources, helping them find the right people to hire for vacant and new positions.
C Squared Social revenues grew 333% in the last three years, and Caleb Crail said he expects revenue will grow by another 100% in 2019 from $2.3 million in 2018 to $5 million in 2019.
C Squared Social clients now include McDonald’s, KFC, A&W, SportsClips and Church’s Chicken, but Caleb Crail said the firm still serves small one-shop ma-and-pa operations.
“That’s why we originally got into digital marketing, to help small businesses,” he said.
After resettling in San Diego, Frank Crail’s involvement in C Squared, he said, is limited to occasionally taking one of his kids to lunch.
He is proud of their ability to work together while maintaining close family relationships.
“You should never sacrifice a relationship over money or business,” he said. “I don’t know of six siblings all working in the same company. Partnerships can be difficult with a lot of hard feelings. But they work together and bend over backward to be inclusive and respectful of each other and everyone’s opinions. It’s very unusual.”