By Heidi Simmons
Very pretty with an easy confidence, Kate Spates, President of Graphtek Interactive, is a self-made, self-actualized woman. She works hard to make a difference in the CV. Her story is impressive as well as inspiring.
Spates has been in the Coachella Valley since 1980. She is a graduate of Palm Springs High School, College of the Desert and California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus. Staying local was a choice Spates made so she could continue to help support her mother.
“I came to Palm Springs just before the seventh grade,” said Spates. “My mother was making a change in her life and I wanted to be supportive in that decision. I fell in love with the desert.”
Spates began working at 15 to help her mother make ends meet. When she was 18, working for a high tech architectural firm, she was given the opportunity to use computers. Spates discovered a world that not only intrigued her, but was something she understood and could do well! “I got feedback that I was smart,” said Spates. “They’d give me a challenge and I’d take it.”
As Spates worked her way through college, she had several jobs, sometimes three at once. At 23, she was made Marketing Director at a local mortgage company. Spates continued in marketing working in seven different departments in nine years at JW Marriott Desert Springs. With her new knowledge of marketing and her love of working with computers, Spates eventually decided to start her own business creating websites and managing web content. In 1996, she raised capital from family and formed a website company.
Her business ultimately became Image Marketing Concepts. With tremendous success came added work and responsibilities. When Mike Cheley of Graphtek approached her with an invitation to merge, she accepted in November 2011.
Spates agreed to combine their businesses because she wanted to spend more time with her husband, Brent, and their 10 year-old twins, Abby and Cassidy. The girls were born prematurely and have mild to moderate cerebral palsy. One doctor gave the twins very little hope for any kind of a future. But when the twins were six months old, Spates saw a twinkle in her daughter Abby’s eye and she knew the girls could have a quality life.
The girls are now in the fifth grade. “Cassidy loves school and said she thinks her CP is gone,” said Spates. “And Abby is so smart. She loves to read and has an interest in words.”
People have reached out to the twins, and Spates has accepted all their love, prayers and encouragement. “It’s not just what we’ve done as parents,” said Spates. “Their lives have been impacted by so many people. It’s been truly amazing.” Spates has been married 21 years. She and her husband met here in the valley. He graduated from Indio High School and she considers him her business mentor and best friend.
Combining her business with Graphtek has not only given Spates more time with her family it has also increased her business acumen. “I’m finally in my sweet spot,” said Spates. “I can now focus on learning the ever-evolving environment to help my clients build their strategies for success online. My partner is very creative and he makes sure the operations run smoothly.”
Graphtek now offers a full spectrum digital marketing services. They encompass web development, custom programing, social media and email marketing. “We build performance websites and drive traffic to them,” said Spates.
Spates enjoys being part of the creative process at Graphtek. “I love working with clients to use technology to automate their processes and convert visitors into customers,” she said.
Giving back to the community is a special pleasure for Spates. She is involved with desert organizations and charities serving on several boards. Spates was recently acknowledged by COD Foundation as a Woman of Distinction — an honor given to her for her continued contribution to the valley.
“I am so fortunate that my job allows me to work in the community. It is very enriching and I’m inspired by working in collaboration with others who are giving their time and talents,” said Spates. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of something bigger than me.” There is a quiet contentment that radiates from Spates. This is her home. And she is happy to be here.