Twenty Years In, Mullikin Is Still Singing His Song

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Randy Mullikin has been around long enough to know the difference between how it used to be done and how it’s done these days.

But the longtime owner of the Mullikin Agency, a marketing and public relations firm based in Springdale, also knows it’s wise to maintain a mix of the old and new.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes and we talk about traditional media and digital media and staying relevant in both,” he said. “Traditional media works and so does digital media.”

What was once a classic advertising firm, born in the days when print was king, has indeed remained relevant as Mullikin offers a wide array of marketing services across the gamut of old media as well as online advertising, web design and social media. Mullikin also has plans to go mobile.

“Will we create apps for our clients?” he said. “The answer is yes.”

Mullikin, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, says he still believes in the “old-fashioned way” of doing business — building relationships and serving clients that he and his agency know. The Mullikin way of doing things has apparently paid off. He said his firm actually grew during the Great Recession and, furthermore, Mullikin has longstanding, prized contracts with important partners like Harps Food Stores Inc., Razorback Transit, Cross Church and Ozarks Electric Cooperative, as well as clients at the local, regional and national level.

“Because our clients have succeeded, we’ve succeeded,” he said, referencing a lean agency that has only four fulltime and two part-time employees.

Mullikin, 53, was a member of the 1998 class of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40.

He first moved to Northwest Arkansas in the late 1970s to attend John Brown University, where he graduated in 1982 with a degree in broadcasting. He worked as a reporter and anchor for eight years at the local ABC affiliate, KHOG-TV, before moving back to Iowa for a year. He returned to Northwest Arkansas and worked for The Advantage Group for three years before he and two partners formed Mullikin in 1994.

He bought out his partners eight years ago and moved the firm into a new building, owned by the agency, north of Susan’s Restaurant on U.S. 412.

“It’s exciting to have been in the business this long,” he said.

An accomplished bass vocalist, Mullikin and music have had a lifelong relationship. He and a sibling won the youth division talent show at the Iowa State Fair in 1972, when he was 12, and the Mullikin family recorded a couple of albums in Nashville way back in the day.

While the bulk of Mullikin’s repertoire is composed of spirituals, from time to time he’ll dip into the secular. For instance, he recently performed the Johnny Cash hit, “I Walk the Line” at the Northwest Arkansas Men’s Conference in Rogers.

Mullikin is a member of the music program at Cross Church in Springdale and is also in the Daystar quartet with Springdale mayor Doug Sprouse. He’s thinking about auditioning for The Singing Men of Arkansas, a choir with which he’d performed in the past. He also sings at weddings, and, if a request is made by a family member or a close friend, will sing at a funeral.

“Music has always been a passion,” he said.

Mullikin said he’s proud of his involvement in the community, which includes membership in local chambers, Kiwanis, Rotary, as well as support of the American Heart Association and the Jones Center for Families. In the past five years, Mullikin has sponsored a Christmas appreciation dinner and celebration for Springdale city employees — all 400 of them.

“We give back to the communities we serve and that feels good,” he said.

Looking ahead, Mullikin expects good times both for his agency and for Northwest Arkansas. From his vantage point he sees a region that will continue to grow, an infrastructure that will continue to improve, and a coming to fruition of all the years of good planning by the public sector.

“I think they’re going to be really good years,” he said. “We have a lot going for us.”