DKY was founded in 1994 as the brainchild of three adventurous 20-somethings: John Denn, Tom Kelby and Mark Yaeger. John was an Account Executive, Tom a Copywriter, and Mark an Art Director. The three close friends had worked on the Winnebago Industries account at a previous agency and decided to form DK&Y (Denn Kelby & Yaeger) in order to participate in a nation-wide agency review process that Winnebago had initiated. Long story short, the start-up agency was awarded half of the business, sharing the account with another (much more established) Minneapolis agency, Colle McVoy.
Tom Kelby, the “K” of DK&Y, never did join the firm as an owner but was still instrumental in the early years as the primary writer. After the name was introduced and business cards were printed, he set out to start a Christian publishing and teaching ministry called Hands to the Plow. All these years later, DKY is proud to be the marketing agency of Hands to the Plow.
Mike Dobies (Creative Director) and Brian Dahl (Account Executive) joined the DK&Y team within a few months of each other in 1995, and became full partners in 2000. The agency dropped the “&” from the name in the early 2000’s, for a cleaner, shorter brand identity. In those early years, we were often confused with the fashion brand DKNY – not a Ring True branding moment!
John Denn sold his ownership in the business in 2008 to pursue his interests in film-making and real estate. Even though our good friends Tom and John are no longer part of the agency, we are proud of the heritage and grateful for the relationships that formed the company. With a Dobies, Dahl and Yaeger at the helm, it may be more accurate to call the agency DDY or YD². But we’ll stick with DKY as a tribute to that step of faith in 1994.