Alumni Spotlight - February 2023
Kendra Santiago '09 and David Johnson '05
Two Oregon Tech alumni have recently assumed ownership of a longstanding Klamath Falls company, SmithBates Marcomm Solutions. Alumni Kendra Santiago and David Johnson, and their respective spouses, purchased SmithBates to continue the success of the branding and printing agency.
SmithBates was founded in Klamath Falls in the early 1920s by W.O. Smith and later sold to another (unrelated) Smith family who were the owners for a few generations. The most recent owners, Ann and Dan Cavanaugh have strong ties to Oregon Tech. Ann has served as a director for the Oregon Tech Foundation since 2017, and she and Dan have been dedicated supporters of the university for the past 15 years, most notably supporting athletics and the Center for Health Professions. Prior to Ann and Dan, Dan's father ran the business for many years. The Cavanaughs recently decided to retire and sell their business. They have entrusted their beloved family business to two employees, Kendra Santiago and David Johnson, both alumni of Oregon Tech, and their respective spouses.
Kendra Santiago ‘09 grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and attended Henley High School, where her father was the health teacher. As she researched and applied to colleges, she ultimately chose Oregon Tech to stay local and live at home while attending school. Kendra always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so she majored in business, dreaming of one day starting her own business. Her advisor encouraged her also to study marketing which she did, which helped her land the kinds of jobs she thoroughly enjoyed.
Kendra worked at JELD-WEN right out of college as a Marketing Communications Manager and later as a Project Manager. She later worked at the Blue Zones Project – Healthy Klamath as the PR and Marketing Manager before becoming a Project Manager at the Klamath County Economic Development Association. Most recently, Kendra joined SmithBates in October of 2022 as the Director of Marketing and Business Development.
David Johnson ‘05 grew up in Merlin, Oregon, just north of Grants Pass, and attended North Valley High School. As a child, David and his father built several computers, and they would also help friends and family troubleshoot their electronics. Oregon Tech was at a college fair that David attended and he thought they had the coolest booth at the event. Additionally, the hands-on education piece was a significant factor that attracted David to attend Oregon Tech.
David studied Information Technology and has over 20 years of experience in print and 17 years of experience in web development and programming. His experience in printing has been lifelong, as his father had a print shop that David worked at after school and over summers. When he moved to Klamath Falls to attend school, David began working for Graphic Press, and when SmithBates purchased Graphic Press, David officially became an employee of SmithBates. David has been at SmithBates for 15 years and is responsible for IT and web development services and oversees production.
Kendra and David are both passionate about their alma mater and the university is very proud of their new roles in what is such a staple in the Klamath Falls community and beyond. Kendra believes in the importance of relationships and suggests that others always send a thank you note. David’s advice for current or future students is to “keep your eye on the prize” because distractions happen all the time, so it’s essential to keep the focus on your education. Kendra’s spouse, fellow alum Rafael Santiago ’10, and David’s spouse, Bobbi Johnson, are both accountants and will be serving as advisors to the new co-owners of the largest print shop in Klamath Falls and one of the oldest in the entire state. SmithBates Marcomm Solutions focuses on branding and creative, web development, asset management, marketing campaigns, print and fulfillment, and marketing resource centers. Learn more at: https://smithbates.com/
~Becky Burkeen, Director of Alumni Relations