Managing Director, Lehigh Mining & Navigation
Q&A with Denis Aumiller, Managing Director of Creative at Lehigh Mining & Navigation, a creative ad agency located in downtown Allentown.
Are you from the Lehigh Valley originally? How did your career begin here?
I moved to the Lehigh Valley in the 1990s and worked at a couple of large creative shops. There’s always been a strong ad agency, design and now digital presence in this region to serve the thriving manufacturing and business community. So, I’ve had the opportunity to grow as an art director and creative director in this region. Then in 2004, Scott Byers and I opened Lehigh Mining & Navigation – a full-service ad agency driven by creative excellence. We work with organizations like Olympus Camera, Martin Guitar, Air Products and B. Braun.
How did your business develop here?
Lehigh Mining & Navigation was founded in downtown Bethlehem in 2004. We really loved the neighborhoods – the historic 19th century architecture, the unique restaurants and the funky coffee shops. With all the regional and national businesses located in this area, we really thrived. We strived to offer a level of creative excellence that you would find in Chicago or LA.
A few years ago, we were looking around for a new office space, and we even considered moving to Philadelphia or New York. But in 2018, we noticed the economic renaissance happening in Allentown, and we knew that we had to be part of it. We saw a thriving business environment and decided to stay and really commit to the Lehigh Valley.
We’ve nurtured an award-winning creative shop and we’re lucky to have an incredibly talented staff, including writers, account execs and designers. But we needed a physical space to match that vision. So when we moved to Tower 6 in downtown Allentown, it made sense to hire the top regional architectural firm, Spillman-Farmer, to create the kind of hip office that you might find in Brooklyn. They delivered this industrial-modern setting with high ceilings, wooden swings and even a turf-covered “lawn.” Visitors to our office get our energetic, creative and fun vibe as soon as they walk in. This past September, Lehigh Valley Business selected us as one the region’s coolest new offices. Our staff could work anywhere in the country, but they love this fresh urban feel of this beautiful valley.
How do you find talent to hire in this area?
We hire the brightest, most talented people we can find – people capable of turning out the kind of marketing and creative work that comes out of Chicago or Manhattan.
Some of them are grads of the many local universities, including Kutztown, which is one of the top design/communication schools in the mid-Atlantic region. We’ve recruited talent from New York City and the Philadelphia suburbs; they escape the high cost of living and insane lifestyle of a major metropolis and find something fresh, affordable and livable here.
Live like a local:
What piece of advice you’d give to a newcomer to the area? There’s so much for a newcomer to discover, from the Allentown Farmer’s Market to historic downtown Bethlehem to the robust restaurant scene in Easton. Then there’s the incredibly rich natural world from the extensive park system in Allentown to beautiful views at Hawk Mountain. It’s truly a uniquely vibrant region that’s unmatched.
What’s your favorite place to go grab a bite to eat? I really like to go down to Bell Hall, right next door to our office on Hamilton Street in downtown Allentown. It has an amazing selection of craft beers and spectacular variety of killer sandwiches. It’s really good.
Favorite date night spot? Melt. Exquisite atmosphere and award-winning Italian cuisine.
What’s your favorite low-key drink spot? Ringers in West Allentown. That’s my neighborhood “Cheers.” And yes, they know my name.