Centerline Digital
2.6 of 5 19 reviews
www.centerline.net Raleigh, NC 50 to 149 Employees

Centerline Digital Reviews

Updated Apr 15, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.6 19 reviews

                             

50% Approve of the CEO

Centerline Digital Founder & CEO Charles Long

Charles Long

(2 ratings)

35% of employees recommend this company to a friend
19 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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1 person found this helpful  

Great agency with an unique culture

Project Management (Former Employee)
Raleigh, NC

I worked at Centerline Digital full-time for more than a year

ProsFirst and foremost, I have to call out that my coworkers here were absolutely some of the very best I've ever had. You simply can't beat the personality and talent of many of the people working at Centerline and I'll always be thankful for the great colleagues I was able to work alongside.

I personally found the rewards to be great for the hard work. The culture is unique and one I think is hard to duplicate. It's a relaxed and fun environment (lots of agency events, ping pong, open bar/happy hours, etc.), but while doing a great amount of work with great clients. I felt respected and heard by management and saw compensation and title increases during my time there. The benefits are outstanding: complete healthcare coverage (domestic partners included), 401k matching, lunchtime workout classes provided and participation encouraged, lots of food (fresh fruit, cereal, milk, coffee, soda, lunch every Friday, etc. etc.), not to mention a great social group to connect with if you desire. Everyone works on Macs and overall has great technology and IT support. The agency business department (HR, business manager, office manager, etc.) is truly outstanding and works hard to ensure all employees have what they need to do their job well. I also found the majority of clients to be fantastic to work with and trust Centerline as a true partner rather than just a digital vendor.

The work is very fast paced and the volume is high, but that's agency life and it attracts people who do well and thrive in that space. Those who do not enjoy it typically only stay for a few months and move on somewhere else. Other than those quick turnovers, I found the attrition to be very typical of any other agency.

I feel lucky to have spent time at this agency in my career. It's a place I will always feel connected and watch the great things being done here.

ConsAs with most agencies, the work ebbs and flows depending on client needs and launches, which can means several clients with major launches/projects concurrently. This can add up to very busy times where resources are stretched a bit thin. During these times I personally struggled with work/life balance, but it was something that was an open and frequent topic of discussion with my manager and the extra work did not go unnoticed.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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The Steep Price of Those Nice Perks

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Centerline Digital

ProsIf you are looking for a company where you can:
- Gain work experience
- Work with smart, talented coworkers
- Enjoy free snacks and beer
… Then Centerline may be for you.

If you’re early-on in your career, need some experience, and want to hone your skills, you can do that at Centerline. Working on IBM projects looks good on a resume.

A high point of working at Centerline is the co-workers, who are very smart and talented. You can learn a lot from them. Other perks include an in-office bar, quarterly outings, pizza Friday, and snacks.

That’s some pretty good perks, but it all comes at a steep price…

ConsIf you DISLIKE:
- A company that depends solely on one client in order to stay in business
- The feeling that you could be fired without warning at any time without explanation
- Vigorously churning out project after project with hardly any variety in style or message
- Having to look for your next job in 1-2 years
… Then Centerline is NOT for you.

A Short Term Job
You can gain skills and experience working here, but don’t expect to be here more than a couple of years. Out of the nearly 100 employees, only about ten people have been employed more than five years. The vast majority have been there less than two. The reason for this is that it’s hard not to burnout on the work or survive the random firings.

Firings
Centerline prides themselves on the fact that they've "never laid anyone off". While that may be the case, the number of random firings is alarmingly high. Management has the firm belief that any employee can be replaced, without warning, no matter how long they have been working there, and will likely not provide a reason for doing so. There is no such thing as job security at Centerline. Don't get comfortable.

The Work
The work is very demanding and repetitive, and must be performed at almost breakneck velocity. Don’t expect a variety of projects to work on. Creative work must meet the high, ever-rising quality standards of Centerline while working within the ever-staying-the-same tight budgets of clients – a task that is a great challenge for even the veteran creatives.

Advice to Senior ManagementThe random firings add so much stress to an already stressful job. And to reiterate another review's comment, all the firings make the remaining employees more resentful and less loyal. Give people fair warning that they aren’t performing up to expectations so that they can make improvements. And when you do fire people, be honest when you share the news with other employees. Too many times has management’s explanation not matched what we hear from the actual employee.

You hire smart, talented people who know how to do their jobs very well and have good ideas. When they have thoughts about how to better handle projects, workflow, operations, etc, listen to their ideas and don’t immediately discount them because it isn’t how you’ve always done things.

The profit-sharing system appears broken. It seems to have a lot more to do with when the client pays for projects than anything us employees have control over. It didn’t feel as though our overtime work contributed toward it, especially those times when we received 0% for the quarter.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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6 people found this helpful  

The opposite of how it appears

Video (Current Employee)
Raleigh, NC

I have been working at Centerline Digital full-time for less than a year

ProsSome wonderful and talented people work here, it has the potential to be a fulfilling job but falls short. You can grab a drink from the bar at 4, although there's hardly time. They try hard to make it look like a fun place to be, although the highlight of the week is free pizza on Friday's that is usually eaten quickly and quietly before rushing back to work.

ConsThe work here is mind numbing, they will tell you this in the interview, and in the end it's why the turn over is so high. 95% of work is for IBM, 4% Lowes, 1% random (mostly self promotion). Most projects run in series so you may be making the same video/ animation/ music over and over and over again, with the expectation that they will somehow magically be more interesting as you go. Every project has an allowance for hours, you may have 3, 35 hour projects in a week... Why? Because they do anything and everything to please the almighty IBM at the cost of there own employees. If you have a family, don't work here you'll never see them and they don't care if you don't.
The reason this company exists is to get as much money from IBM as possible, they don't consider any other clients and in the end all it will take to collapse them is IBM backing out or cutting down on the work they give. So, mind numbing work for one client will cause people to get bored and quit, or you'll be fired after 90 days because they don't think you're the right personality fit. You can be replaced, everyone can be replaced at centerline.

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A Sharp Lesson in Contrast

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

I worked at Centerline Digital full-time for more than a year

ProsCenterline is a conundrum. It dangles amenities, parties and benefits, but smacks the wrist that reaches for them. It purchases tons of expensive equipment and technology, but refuses to pay a competitive salary. It sings of creative expression, but values calculated efficiency far more. Thus, the pros and cons of Centerline are intertwined. I've categorized them by which way they lean, but they could easily sway from side to side based on personal opinion. One thing to always remember though is: the reward for good work is more work.

If you love work, then there is no better place to find it. I often found myself during my last few months at Centerline repeating, "Well, I'm not dead," when people asked me how I was doing. I think "not dying" is a pretty big pro when you are expected to work 16 hours a day plus weekends. Pro: Decent Health Insurance

Often when you are knee-deep in the creative trenches of video production, you don't have time to grab lunch. Also, going out for lunch (or leaving the office for any reason) requires detailed documentation that is reminiscent of elementary school, which is so creepy and big brother-esq that I often didn't want to leave for fear of retribution. Luckily, they provide snacks, soda and alcohol to keep you working. Just don't try to sit in a booth after you've finished your snack, as that is a "pet-peeve" of management.
Pro: Soda Machine, Free Snacks and Pizza Friday

When eating your company-provided snacks, the best part of the day is conversing with your peers. The people stuck in Centerline's hungry claws are amazing; easily some of the coolest, most talented people I have ever met. Everyone is personable, nice and well-rounded. Important exception: certain members of account and upper management. While nice enough on the outside, their nougat is rotten, icky stuff (more on this in the Cons section).
Pro: Great People

In addition to food, the couple that runs the company likes to shower their employees with gifts and fun outings. This is where I'm most conflicted. In general, i think they are good people who have read Ayn Rand too many times and it's poisoned their brains. The outings are fun and who doesn't like some sweet holiday gifts? But I would gladly trade a new xbox for the reign of terror to end (more of this in the Cons section).
Pro: Parties, Gifts and Company Outings

ConsWhen considering working at Centerline, think about how mentally strong you are and how much you care about nice things. If your answer is that your have the mind of a Greek God and that your self-worth is directly linked to your Tory Burch flats, then these cons might not apply to you.

Happiness at Centerline is deeply entrenched in how much your value system aligns with upper management, and how much they like you. If you're not an intense suck up, then the best you can hope for is to be ignored. If you're ignored, then at least you're not unemployed. Being talented and smart are not enough to succeed.
Con: Working Hard Does Not Equal Success

The flip side of this is that if you become a darling of management you are handed the world on a silver platter. You could not be at work for months, come back and be promoted twice in quick succession. This can be good and bad, because on one hand... money, but on the other, everyone resents you.
Con: Rampant Favoritism

The Reign of Terror is a real thing and the most important thing to consider before working there. They love scaring employees. Every few months they do a "clean up" where they fire a couple of people in each department that they consider the weakest link. Management will also randomly go over your work with a fine tooth comb and make you completely re-do a project if it doesn't meet their subjective, ever-changing standards. "Centerline Paranoia" is an actual thing. In addition to a case of paranoia, I also developed a panic disorder. Fun!
Con: Likely Development of Mental Health Issues

One of the reasons the paranoia sets in is that quite a few people are nasty, rotten people that will smile and nod to your face and then throw you under the bus quicker than you can say, "banana phone." People were often put on probation for using Twitter, checking Facebook, answering the phone wrong, making fun of the music in the bathroom, ect. The most inane, random things could equate in a write-up. Part of the issue is that management will entrap you, asking you if you saw so-and-so doing this? You answer truthfully and suddenly you're named as a witness in their witch hunt.
Con: The Centerline Inquisition

A few people really love it at Centerline.
Con: Stockholm Syndrome

Advice to Senior ManagementYour most talented employees are often overlooked. Implementing 360 reviews would do a ton of good and show who should be in leadership positions, vs. fast-track promoting people who buddy-up to you. Also, you're far too trigger happy with firing people and all it does is make the remaining employees more resentful and less loyal. 95 percent of the people who work there will leave the second something else is offered to them. Centerline paranoia is real and a huge problem. Fix it.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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2 people found this helpful  

Hard work, large reward

Project Manager (Current Employee)
Raleigh, NC

I have been working at Centerline Digital full-time for more than 3 years

ProsAmazing co-workers, easy access to management

ConsLimited opportunity for career growth

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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5 people found this helpful  

Over-processed; Under-Managed; Inexperienced

Project Manager (Former Employee)
Raleigh, NC

I worked at Centerline Digital full-time for less than a year

ProsEveryone says the people because it's true. For the most part they're smart, dedicated and talented.
Beautiful office space
Bar

ConsProduction house, not agency. Creative takes a backseat to a dollar amount on the estimate
Insincerity at the highest levels - don't expect to be told what you're good at or what you're lacking; but they will compliment your great wardrobe
Live and die by a project management system that tracks your every move - except for those people who are exempt (not you)
Don't even think about getting there at 9:03A. 9AM sharp because creative types like to be micro-managed
If you're not in the "Inner Sanctum", you're being talked about at length. Hope they like you!
No training
Will tell you what you want to hear upon interviewing - then spectacularly fail to deliver
Don't hire men for PM jobs
Unrealistic expectations for below-average salary

Advice to Senior ManagementLearn to manage PEOPLE; they are not projects in a system
Be OK firing people rather than asking them "Do you think this is a good fit?" or "You're not happy here."
Be clear on your expectations
Acknowledge hard work with a sincere "thank you"
Get some admins - not more PCs to do your scheduling, travel and grunt work
Quit talking ABOUT people and start talking TO people
Show leadership and be clear about your vision for the company to prospective employees as well as current employees
Stop firing people with agency experience if you want to be an agency
It's OK for people to disagree because one day you might be wrong

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9 people found this helpful  

The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
Raleigh, NC

I worked at Centerline Digital full-time for more than 3 years

ProsOverview - If you are looking to get your foot in the door, this is probably the best place in Raleigh to do so. The majority of employees are 20-somethings just out of college who are learning the ropes about the real world. You'll be given plenty of opportunities to hone your craft and you'll definitely meet some like-minded, ambitious individuals who will become your friends and your lifeline while working here.

Benefits - The benefits are generous. You'll never go hungry working here. They have a fully stocked bar, soda fountain and a snack bar. They usually buy dinner for those working late hours. Every Friday is "Pizza Friday" and occasionally this is changed up with a bbq, taco or potluck style luncheon.

Job - As far as tools to complete your job, they are current on technology and actually spend the money to stay up to date on hardware, so don't expect to walk in and see a 7 year old Dell computer as your workstation. They are good about software and hardware requests, and they try to stay up on trends. They will accomodate you to get the job done.

Workspace - The overall office is an amazing workspace, they recently moved into a new office building which is very open and has a very "agency" feeling to it. Everything is hip and modern, and it's filled with amenities such as showers, massage chairs, ping pong table, open kitchen, etc... You'll never want to leave.

ConsAmenities - Despite all these great amenities, don't expect to be able to use any of them. Employees are constantly reprimanded for using these during work hours. Between the hours of 9-6, you are expected to be working, not taking a break and playing ping pong.

Work Hours - Depending on your position within the company, you will probably spend countless hours working overtime. Overtime is generally expected at any job you work at, but there is no place more thankless for your overtime than here. I used to grind countless late hours for months on end, and more often than not, you would get little to no recognition for it. This mainly applies to creatives, who I feel are perhaps the most under appreciated in the entire company. You're the modern day equivalent of a work horse, and they will work you into the ground.

Every single minute of every single day must be tracked in their antiquated timesheet system. Don't think of being a minute late, because you will hear about it. They track time like a hawk tracking it's prey.

Your location must be known to management at all times. If you are going out to lunch, or going out to your car to get something, someone needs to know and you must create an appointment in their time tracking system.

Advancement - don't count on it unless you're in the upper echelon of the corporate ranks. You might come in as a junior editor or a project coordinator or a junior designer, but the only thing that will change about your job is dropping the "jr" or possibly, replacing it with "sr". If you're fortunate enough to get promoted, don't expect to get a huge raise. Despite my glowing annual reviews, I only received a standard "cost-of-living" raise of a mere 2-3%.

Management - while there are a few in management who I do feel honestly want to change the company, they are constantly roadblocked by the upper levels of management and the owner. They are extremely resistant to change, and don't be surprised if you hear them talk about upcoming changes, and 6 months later do a complete 180 on those changes. In my time there, I attended several company wide meetings about all the "changes" that were coming. None of them were ever implemented, and in the end, it's hurt the company as they have started to grow.

Work Life - if you have a family, kiss them on the cheek and tell them you love them, because this will be the last interaction you will have with them. They don't believe in flexible work hours, no matter what they tell you in your initial interviews. My relationships with my family suffered horribly while I was here, and on at least one instance, it almost led to my significant other leaving me. If you're young, single and ambitious, this will not be a problem for you.

Turnover - if you don't fit into the company culture, expect to be gone in 3 months. I've seen it countless times. If you don't get along with anyone in upper management, expect to be gone even sooner. They say they have never laid anyone off, and this is true, but that's because they are constantly firing people and bringing in new blood. Just remember, no matter how valuable you think you are, you are completely expendable.

Advice to Senior ManagementYou need to respect your employees and not treat them like children. Everyone is a professional and you need to treat them as such. There seems to be a complete lack of trust.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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2 people found this helpful  

One of a Kind and Growing

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
Raleigh, NC

I have been working at Centerline Digital full-time for more than a year

ProsAmazing group of people. A small company that treats people like family. Talent and creativity overflow. Management, including the owner and CEO, is approachable and progressive. It's a fun place to work and we get to interact with highly recognizable brands. It's a very unique place and definitely rewarding and challenging.

The company is growing and it's exciting to be a part of the growth. Personally, I've seen at least 20 people added to the company and they've all contributed unique perspectives that have allowed us to grow and adapt.

ConsGrowing company, so changes have rocked the boat a little. Management is adapting but in some people's minds, it has been too slow and maybe not communicated perfectly. The old guard needs to make way to new life trying to breath change into the company.

Advice to Senior ManagementAllow creatives to have time to innovate more and not just clock hours. Embrace change.

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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6 people found this helpful  

Easily the worst, most poorly run company I've ever worked for.

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
Raleigh, NC

I worked at Centerline Digital full-time for less than a year

ProsNice office, free snacks, stocked bar. Some very nice and talented people (mostly the creative, content, engineering teams). A handful of capable and likable account /project management people (mostly the newer/younger ones who have not been warped by the culture yet).

If you possess half a brain, you'll get to feel superior to a few of your senior staff who use the following words: expecially (for "especially"), acume (for "acumen," as in "business acumen") and irregardless.

ConsSmall, core team of people who have been there for years are running an 80-person agency like a 25-person agency. Micro-management is rampant. For example, you must note in your public calendar if you are out of the office even for 5 minutes to pick up your lunch. The CEO is uber-involved in silly details that should be handled by staff - for example, dictating when to have your team meetings. They value face-time over efficiency. Notorious for firing people within weeks for no apparent reason, and running the company w/ fear of being fired (especially for the entry-level project coordinators).

They only reward people who a) buy into the no work/life balance that they encourage, and b) follow the rules and don't ask any questions or challenge the status quo. Their project management system (which controls traffic, time sheets and billing) is super rigid, and does not account for any deviations from what they already do for their main client. This is a microcosm of an entire agency that is completely inflexible and closed off to suggestions for change/improvement.

About 85% of their work is for one (admittedly) major client (although not changing the rates in 14 years could be a major reason why the client stays). And after all these years, they are still not the AOR. Therefore they are dependent on one client for the majority of their revenue. In addition, though they say they are strong in strategy and interactive, easily 80% of their work is making the same four-five types of videos for their big client over and over. If you are hoping to flex any creative muscles, this is not the place for you.

They don't seem to understand the interactive world very well, and up until a few months ago they did not even have a qualified QA person to review projects. They still do not bother to send any videos through a real QA process, and depend on 25-year olds w/ no experience to make sure it looks ok.

The account/project management team is disorganized and unwieldy. A few loud, catty, petty, well-connected (aka sycophantic) people manage to corrupt what could be a great team. There is no room for suggestion or change in their world, and they are always watching and waiting for other people to mess up and go against their peculiar (and unnecessary) rules and regulations. Unfortunately this means that the entire account/pm team is poisoned by a group of young, inexperienced (and frankly, kind of mean) women who have had no/minimal prior experience than working at Centerline.

Unprofessionalism abounds whether it is from the lame QA process described above, to the firing of people within weeks (with no HR representative in the room, no less), to the senior staff who have no background running a mid-size, digital ad agency.

The only way to succeed at Centerline is to do whatever you are told, never suggest that something could possibly be done better/more efficiently, work ridiculous hours, and kiss the right people's asses.

Advice to Senior ManagementHiring from within is often great, but if you want the company to grow and adapt, you need to hire (and keep) people who have had outside experience and be open to their suggestions for change. Promoting the people who merely follow the rules and put in the time will cause your company to stagnate.

Don't treat people like children and micro-manage everything they do. When you give respect and space, people have a higher morale and will want to do better work for you.

Diversify your client base so if/when your one big client has cutbacks or switches agencies, you are not screwed. Also diversify your offerings - the videos are of great quality, but there are about four to five types that you keep making again and again. Try something innovative.

And don't foster the current high-school environment that pervades - cliques and pettiness. Encourage work/life balance so people will enjoy working there; and not just because they can drink at 4:30 in the afternoon.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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7 people found this helpful  

Slave ship being driven by incompetence

Project Management (Former Employee)
Raleigh, NC

I worked at Centerline Digital

Pros- The creative team
- The benefits
- The location
- Shoots

Cons- Politics
- Long hours
- Rudeness and disrespect by account management higher ups
- Unwillingness to listen to ideas

Advice to Senior ManagementInstead of firing people who show that they want to help a place change for the better and grow. Encourage them to help with those changes. Reward those people, instead of rewarding the work-horses that show no promise in management abilities or forward-thinking.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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Centerline Digital – Why Work for Us?

Centerline is 100% organic. It’s how we’re built, and how we approach our relationships. We’ve grown from two employees to over 80, all without a single loan or investor, and we’re still taking on crew. Oh, and we’re… Full Overview

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at Centerline Digital reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for Centerline Digital CEO Charles Long. All 19 reviews posted anonymously by Centerline Digital employees.