Josh Pritchard, left, president of Anchour marketing, and Stephen Gilbert, CEO, sit Friday in the lobby of the marketing company at 119 Lisbon St. in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Anchour is not your typical advertising and branding agency. First, it’s in Lewiston, although it could just as easily be in New York City or Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Anchour has some of its bigger clients such as Amway.

But the company’s 33-year-old CEO Stephen Gilbert is from the New Gloucester area and has always wanted to start his own agency. With a few years of ad agency experience under his belt, the web and UX designer, who started coding at age 12, was torn.

Just over 10 years ago, Gilbert and his then girlfriend tussled over whether to live in New York City where she was a designer or take a chance on Lewiston. Victoria Richland is now Gilbert’s wife, partner in Anchour and the firm’s creative director.

Anchour marketing company is seen Monday at 199 Lisbon St. in Lewiston at the corner of Pine Street. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The third partner is President Josh Pritchard, a banker by trade who also ran an insurance office and ended up in Lewiston. At a chance meeting at Starbucks, their first “office,” Gilbert and Pritchard said they just clicked.

Pritchard said the rigidity of the banking world was stifling him and an opportunity to take over the business operations of an existing company here meant Gilbert, Richland and Pritchard would collaborate as one of Anchour’s first clients, and soon after Pritchard was asked to join the team.

“My wife has a bunch of family here and we would come and visit, you know, twice a year,” Pritchard said. “You know, we crossed the New Hampshire and Maine border and all the stresses that we had just melted off of us and we’d be like, why are we so relaxed? And so you do that enough times and before we know it … this would be a cool place to live full time.”


Pritchard said his primary job is to help Gilbert any way he can as he oversees the operations aspects of the agency — payroll, human resources, hiring and the day-to-day administrative and operational functions.

Anchour’s offices at 199 Lisbon St., are bright, modern and casual, and not mandatory for any of the company’s 30 employees to work. It’s part of the shared philosophy that fosters a creative and hardworking environment, where Gilbert said striking a life-work balance is critical to their success.

It’s also one of the reasons Anchour was selected as the second-place winner of “Best Places to Work in Maine in 2023” for small businesses and third place in Ad Age’s “Best Places to Work 2024” list among marketing agencies in the U.S. with fewer than 200 employees.

“I think if anybody wants to be really great at what they do, it requires a lot of hard work that requires sacrifice,” Gilbert said. “So, if you want to be truly great, it requires that dedication.”

The caveat, Gilbert said, is that dedication can also cause a lot of burnout, stress and frustration. “We try to do our very best to kind of balance all those things.”

Part of the employment package includes a 401(k) match, health insurance, half days on Fridays during the summer and free lunch for employees who come into the office. It’s their choice.


“If you want to work from home everyday, that’s fine — there are some people that live in Portland and don’t come to the office, except the quarterly meeting,” Gilbert said.


Sarah Hayes, foreground, works as a project manager at Anchour marketing in this undated photo, while Amelia Libby is a copywriter at the Lewiston ad agency. Submitted photo

From a core of four people in its first year, Anchour has grown to 30, 10 of whom were brought on in 2023. Gilbert said it’s due to planned growth, more demand for their services and the expansion of services they offer to clients. Increased efficiency also plays a role.

“We’ve overhauled a lot of our process to incorporate AI in a good way,” Gilbert said. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is all the buzz today, but most companies are being very deliberate in how they incorporate it. He said they don’t use ChatGPT to write blogs for them but find it useful for generating ideas and editing.

“Dropping in various pieces of content, even like project agreements, legal, technical documents,” he explained. AI is a tool they also use for proofreading.

The principals at Anchour have no illusions about where they want to be and how they want to grow. “We’re not ever going to be the big pitch agency that’s, you know, offering multimillion-dollar campaigns to the world’s biggest corporations,” Gilbert said.

In fact, they don’t sell themselves to potential clients like bigger firms.


“It feels too much like theater to us, and we don’t want to act at all,” Pritchard emphasized. “We want people who are attracted to authenticity, and if we’re able to be ourselves, if that, in turn, allows our clients or potential clients to know that they can be themselves … it’s infectious.”

Anchour likes to focus on four business segments: direct to consumer, retail, finance and professional services such as architects, builders and solar providers.

Clients include local companies such as Agren, Kate’s Butter, Dead River, Baxter Brewing and Marden’s, but also extends to national brands such as Amway, MOD Pizza and Newton Baby.

Gilbert and Pritchard nod their heads when asked about future growth, another sign of how well the company’s leaders are on the same page.

“We’d love to have 40 in a few years,” Gilbert said, explaining “redundancy is a big reason and then being able to do more work is another reason and then even just to have more specialty and focus.”

Redundancy will allow for an overlap in skills and add more flexibility for scheduling and time off, he said. “So, we’re excited to keep growing.”


Rory McGuire, left, a front-end developer at Anchour marketing in Lewiston, is seen in this undated photo talking with President Josh Pritchard. The ad agency was selected as the second-place winner of “Best Places to Work in Maine in 2023” for small businesses. Submitted photo

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