Genuine gold: Bret Grow By: Serena Dugar Ioane

BYU–Hawaii alumnus shares journey from living in a school bus to founding a successful marketing software company

Photo provided by Bret Grow

Bret Grow, the Director of Digital Marketing and Digital Commerce at the Polynesian Cultural Center and an adjunct instructor of advanced digital marketing at BYU–Hawaii, said he wants to help BYUH students by sharing his knowledge and experience of business, marketing and software technology.

Photo provided by Bret Grow

What special memories do you have from your student years at BYUH?

I have many precious memories at BYUH. Originally from Encinitas, California, my wife and I graduated from Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, and then got accepted to BYUH. However, when we arrived, we found that our campus housing fell through, so we started living on an old school bus permanently parked on the beach. We had our two-year-old son, Dawson, with us.

Our wonderful bishop, Kapu, visited us and not long after helped straighten out our housing problem and get us into TVA. He was a quiet yet powerful man. During our stay in Laie, I also learned to surf while working as a lifeguard for the intro to surfing class. From then on, I would surf most early mornings with my accounting professor, Kevin Kimball. I enjoy surfing and spending time with my family at the beach. Just as we graduated, Kate gave birth to our second son, Brighton.

What was your career path after graduation?

I majored in information systems and graduated in the Spring of 2000. My wife, Kate, majored in psychology with a minor in organizational behavior. Most of my practical experience on campus was working for Lei Cummings in the Computer Technology Group, where I would eventually spend my time building websites.

During my senior year, I landed an internship with a local computer networking company out of Honolulu. Once I graduated, that internship turned into full-time employment. I worked there for a few years, but eventually, we grew tired of living paycheck to paycheck on the verge of poverty, so we moved to Utah.

Photo provided by Bret Grow

There, I worked for an email marketing company where I leveraged my information systems background into understanding complex marketing technologies. Within a year, I co-founded LinkTrust, a marketing tracking software company based in Utah County. We grew the company over about 15 years and were blessed to sell it in Jan. 2018. During that time, we had two more children, Emily and Chadwick.

After the company was acquired, I assisted another marketing technology company as their Senior Product Manager, and then moved to Laie in Aug. 2019 and became the director of digital marketing and digital commerce for the Polynesian Cultural Center. Helping people succeed in vacation property real estate is another thing I really enjoy because it has been a great blessing for our family. We own and manage vacation properties in Hawaii, Utah and Arizona.

Why did you come back when you were successful in Utah?

Returning to BYUH and giving back to students was always at the back of our minds. For many years it seemed like perhaps it could only be a dream because our work life was so busy. However, when LinkTrust was acquired in 2018, Kate and I began serious planning ways that we could get here and make a difference. Our goal has always been to help students through sharing our knowledge and experience of business, leadership, marketing and software technology.

Photo provided by Bret Grow

How are you helping students now?

Currently, I am an adjunct instructor for the advanced digital marketing class at BYUH. It gives me a chance to share my knowledge with students. I also work with many students at the PCC on the digital marketing and E-commerce teams.

Kate also mentors BYUH students through the Enactus program, and she homeschools our youngest two children that are here with us in Hawaii. Kate has over 18 years of experience in homeschooling and mentoring as well as being President of LinkTrust for the three years leading up to our acquisition.

What were some of your life-defining moments?

I have had several important moments that define who I am today. One is my mission in Chicago from 1993 to 1995. I learned how to work really hard and do difficult things. Being married was another defining moment for me because Kate has led a pivotal role in my development as a father and has largely contributed to me becoming the person that I am today.

Grow said now he is learning ukulele. Photo provided by Bret Grow

My father’s death in July of 2000 from Alzheimer’s left a lasting impression on me and encouraged me to grow up faster. Finally, starting a small technology company so early in life and going through so many struggles and hard-knocks business lessons while working with my wife has perhaps made the greatest impact on me.

What is one interesting fact about your family?

I have nine siblings, and my great great grandfather, Henry Grow, was the architect of the Salt Lake Tabernacle at Temple Square.

If people want to learn more about me, they can visit www.bretgrow.com, connect with me on LinkedIn or email growb@polynesia.com.