Ad Man Turned Professor Sells Snowblower
Hiding behind SunRiver resident Doug McKinlay’s kindly smile and the twinkle in his eyes lies the steel heart of a hard charging and successful ad agency entrepreneur filled with love for family, young people, and a love for God.
Although Doug McKinlay thinks of himself as an east coaster from Connecticut, he ended up where he began, here in the heart of the west. Doug was born in Salt Lake, lettered in baseball, football, and wrestling at Orem high, graduated in advertising and marketing from BYU, and, following his father’s pattern, retired as a professor at BYU.
He served in the army reserve and the LDS church as a missionary in the western states mission. After serving honorably both God and country, he married Betty Jo Vance, the very beautiful first runner up to the Miss Nevada title. After completing his Master’s degree in Mass Communication at BYU, he embarked on a career in advertising that took him to the east coast.
Doug went to work for General Electric, and transferred to Schenectady, New York. “When we drove into Schenectady we thought, Is it 1929 or 1971? We’re not sure. Schenectady felt like a town that went into the Great Recession and decided ‘we really like it here.’” After a year with GE, he went to work for what was the largest ad agency north of NY where he worked on the Spalding Golf account and other fun clients.
He became the fourth person in, “A startup ad agency that went from zero to fifty-million in four years.” When the focus of the new agency moved away from being client centered to becoming more political, Doug moved on and turned an old mill about 15 miles up the road into an ad agency he ran for 17 years. “The mill was built in 1680, very Connecticut. We had fun clients like Stanley, Canadair Jets, Smith and Wesson firearms.”
Then he received a phone call from the LDS church. He left his ad agency and first career behind and spent the next three years with zero income, in an “Amazing experience as a Mission President with an average of 200 young elders and sister missionaries.” His area of responsibility included Nogales, Tucson, Roswell, El Paso and beyond. As his second career as a mission president drew to a close, BYU called. “What are you going to do when you are released from you mission?”
“Bad question,” Doug said. “I can’t see past the next zone training conference.” BYU wanted him to come onboard as faculty. “I contacted former clients and put together an academic resume since I had never taught before. They all told lies for which I am sure they will suffer stripes in the great beyond for that.” BYU hired him after he completed his mission, where he taught marketing and advertising for the next fifteen and a half years.
In 2013, at seventy-one Doug applied for an unpaid internship with the Dallas-based Richards Group. Advertising Age Magazine reported Doug’s thought that, “The industry is moving at Mach One, and academia is moving at the speed of a receding glacier.” In order for him to teach his students what advertising was like in the real world, he felt the need to experience today’s leading edge.
While at BYU, he and Jeff Sheets started the AdLab where students work on real projects for private companies and government entities. When students leave the university, they aren’t novices; they are prepared to contribute to their agencies.
In December 2015, he joined his wife here in SunRiver. She had been living here since April 2015, but “I couldn’t get BYU to fire me.” He commuted the last semester from St. George to Provo. “We had built our dream home in Cedar Hills north of Provo. One of those barnacles built on the side of the hill waiting for Mother Nature to sneeze and all come rolling into the valley. Now we live in SunRiver in Reflections. We love it; we wouldn’t change it if we could.”
“It’s been a very good fun ride,” he said. Doug has been writing vignettes about his life including, “A brief running addiction,” and “what did you do at work Daddy?” His stories are laced with his distinctive dry sense of humor.
In addition to joining the computer club, and the pickleball club, though he confessed he has never played single game of pickleball, he collects bandanas. He has over 84 of them to date including a map of the constellations, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and a street map of New York City.
“You go on vacation to resort places, and guess what, SunRiver is really resort living, if you want it to be. It’s pretty amazing. There is a lot to do. If you’re bored, look in the mirror, because it’s your fault. It’s not the community’s fault. We love it.”
Doug summed up one of the deciding factors for selecting St. George over other retirement destinations. “The best thing that ever happened to me was selling the snow blower. That fits right into the profile of why I’m here.”