Telling a story: Stoker Resources becomes SRG Creative Solutions

Robert Francis

Name changes don’t come easy, but Tom Stoker’s not sure they shouldn’t happen more often. After 15 years as Stoker Resources Group, the agency renamed and rebranded itself SRG Creative Solutions. To Stoker, the name change reconnected the company with its mission and helped communicate that mission to clients and even longtime customers. “With Stoker Resources, we were trying to say we were a resourcing agency, ‘One stop, one shop,’” said Stoker, president and senior consultant. “When we were founded in 1999, it made perfect sense. The oil and gas industry was kind of fumbling around then and nobody confused us, but in the last two or three years, when the Barnett Shale has grown more and more, it can get confusing. We’re storytellers and our story was not being told.” The new name, SRG Creative Solutions, maintains a link to the previous brand’s equity, but more clearly defines the agency.

“We’ve had clients come up to us and say, ‘Oh, now I get it, you’re an agency,’ said Stoker. “But we haven’t changed, we still do our production work, consulting work and branding, along with some workshops. That hasn’t changed.” SRG Creative Solutions works with a variety of clients, such as churches, nonprofits, performing arts organizations and companies. Cousin’s Bar-B-Q, the Child Study Center, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Broadway Baptist Church and Jim Finley Properties are just a few of the company’s clients over the years. (The Fort Worth Business Press is a longtime customer and partner with SRG Creative.) “‘Your story. Our passion.’ That’s what we do and it’s true. We’re passionate about telling people’s stories,” said Stoker. That passion received some honors last week when the firm won two 35th Annual Telly Awards for two recent client videos: • “Giving, The Fort Worth Way,” produced for Association of Fundraising Professionals, told of the impact of three individuals on Fort Worth: Ruth Carter Stevenson, Nancy Lee Bass and Van Cliburn. The three died within a few weeks of each other. • “The Potter’s Hand” was produced for Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County. Founded in 1979, the New York-based Telly Awards honors outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, video and film productions, and online commercials, video and films. For Roger Partridge, now director of stewardship for First United Methodist Church, the awards were not a surprise. As chief development officer at the Child Study Center, he hired then-Stoker Resources to do the Child Study Center’s 50th anniversary video. “They made me look like a rock star,” he said. “They have a unique ability to take the abstract…and then tell that story effectively.” While the agency is hearing the accolades of customers and other industry professionals, its founding was hardly typical. Stoker, 60, received a bachelor’s degree in music from Samford University in Birmingham and a master’s in music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He spent the first 25 years of his working life as a church musician, venturing more and more into consulting work as time went on. But being a full-time church musician meant weekends were workdays. Then, 15 years ago, his wife, Pam Stoker, now at Texas Christian University but then working for a medical group, made a suggestion. A big suggestion.

“Just like that on June 15, 1999, she said, ‘I’ll tell you what, by September 15, let’s both have new careers.’ And we did,” Stoker said. Stoker said his faith is still a big part of his life even as he has ventured into the secular world of business. “I carry my faith with me,” he said. “Integrity is very important to what we do.” Not that Stoker has left music behind. Aside from putting his musical skills to work on some of the productions at SRG Creative, Stoker is minister of worship arts at Arborlawn United Methodist Church. There he conducts the Chancel Choir and helps produce an annual series of concerts featuring artists and ensembles including the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Schola Cantorum of Texas, Texas Boys Choir, and the Fort Worth Community Band. Stoker’s most visible musical role came in March 2013, following the death of Stoker’s friend, Van Cliburn. Stoker had been minister of music at Van Cliburn’s home church, Broadway Baptist, in the 1990s and Stoker was the family spokesman following the internationally-acclaimed pianist’s death.

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Stoker helped conduct the service according to Cliburn’s wishes. “It was a high honor,” he said. With a large gathering of musicians to corral – the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Chorus of Broadway Baptist Church – as well as a coterie of international, national and local dignitaries, there were plenty of challenges. “We taught Russian to a choir in 30 minutes,” he noted. But challenges are part of a day’s work for Stoker and his team. “We always try to say ‘Yes’,” said Stoker. “If a client comes to us with a request, we like to find a way to say ‘Yes.’”