Jean Marie Saidler was a fresh face out of college, eager to learn and ready to face new challenges when she accepted a marketing position working for Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee. It was the late 1970s, and she was working in a male-dominated company, but Saidler didn’t see obstacles, she saw opportunities.
“It was a different time,” Saidler says. “In the ’70s women were just beginning to come out of their social norm. I had to hit the ground running. I had to study, learn, try to anticipate needs and do my work as best as I could. Luckily, I had an amazing mentor – an older gentleman who made it clear that being female was no excuse. If I didn’t do my job well, no one was going to respect me. “
Those formative years provided experiences Saidler would carry with her through her entire career, as it weaved from working with brands of Miller Brewing – and, later, 7Up – to her decision to launch her own business-to-business marketing agency. Her business, JMS Marketing, is now entering its 25th year, having grown from a single-person operation to one that includes a seasoned, talented staff of marketing strategists, graphic artists and digital experts.
The Rev. Gilbert “Budd” Friend-Jones, retired senior minister of First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake says Saidler and her staff immerse themselves in their clients’ work to truly understand the business and build successful strategies. And, he adds, Saidler, has a keen eye when it comes to recognizing young talent and nurturing it.
Friend-Jones first met Saidler when they were invited to serve together on an advisory board for Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital. He was able to see first-hand Saidler working in a group, bringing her skills and talents to the table.
“She thinks strategically and that’s a very important part,” Friend-Jones says. “One of her biggest contributions is her ability to see strategic change. She’s also very encouraging of others.”
Saidler helped develop the Hebling Spirit of Commerce Award with McHenry County College officials.
“It’s an opportunity for students to see and apply their training to a real case study,” Saidler says.
After a successful career in corporate marketing, Saidler wanted to find work that wouldn’t require as much travel and time away from her young daughter and husband. In the late ’80s she became the executive director for the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where she worked for five years. Saidler says she loved working in the town and built strong relationships with the local business and government leaders.
Then, another great mentor and community leader encouraged her to start her own business. She took the advice and, before she had her business cards printed, she had her first client, Columbia Pictures. The movie studio had come to Woodstock to film the movie “Groundhog Day” and Saidler agreed to work with the studio.
Through the years, Saidler continues to learn and advance her career. And she remains committed to her community, making time for work with local organizations, including Governing Council of Good Shepherd Hospital, the Board of Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois and the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. She is a past president of the Rotary Club of Crystal Lake Dawnbreakers and the Raue Center for the Arts.
“I was shocked to learn I had been named a Woman of Distinction,” Saidler says. “It’s all due to the wonderful people that surround me in my life.”