Our Founder's Story

Ashlei Rolloff, CEO and founder of Nerd Herd, may seem like a traditional success story. She scaled the ranks of marketing leadership roles, started her own marketing agency, but Ashlei’s path to where she is today was anything but traditional. In 2022 she was honored as an AdFed 32 Under 32 winner and in 2023 she was honored as Outstanding Mentor by TeamWomen at the annual WaveMaker Award Ceremony.

Ashlei’s strong work ethic was instilled in her at a young age leaving home at the age of 17 where she entered the workforce full time while supporting herself through college. The need to balance work and school meant her college career would last 10 years. But Ashlei’s entrepreneurial drive took no breaks during this time.

While pursuing her marketing degree and working as a marketing manager for a real estate firm, Ashlei began getting requests for several freelance projects in the creative space for website development, branding and graphic projects. This was the spark that would soon ignite Nerd Herd. — igniting her insatiable appetite for learning and motivating Ashlei to spend hours outside of work and school honing her skills to perfect work for these initial clients

Nerd Herd – founded from passion, fueled by expertise

What started as a side hustle quickly became a passion project as Ashlei’s client roster grew from referrals. In 2015, she filed for an LLC and coined her company Nerd Herd, a nod to the technical, “nerdy” expertise that can and should exist within a creative industry like marketing.

High demand for Ashlei’s creative services led her to pursue one of her lifelong goals of building a company of her own. She adopted an agency model with Nerd Herd, hiring team members and contractors to compliment her expertise and bring more value to clients beyond what she could do alone.  Ashlei’s diverse and collective experiences over the years were helping her develop a powerful and rare combination of strategy + creative + technical skills.

A corporate career by  grit and coffee

Ashlei discovered a fierce love for building marketing strategies and creative teams throughout her corporate experiences. So when she had the opportunity to build a department from ground up at SVL, an HVAC representative, she couldn’t pass up the offer. Ashlei began by building a marketing team for SVL, which would eventually expand into building marketing strategies for the executive management’s growing portfolio of companies, totaling 5 firms that were under her purview.

By the end of her seven-year tenure at SVL, the company had promoted Ashlei to VP of Marketing. In this role, she oversaw a team of 20 employees spanning three departments. In her final 18 months at the company, Ashlei pioneered the launch of an internal marketing agency, packaging up SVL’s marketing services and selling them to other HVAC rep firms and manufacturers. In the first year, she secured a projected $1M+ in revenue.

A catalyst for what Nerd Herd is today

Ashlei eventually had the opportunity to achieve her dream of full-time entrepreneurship: the business Ashlei built under the corporate agency would be dissolved allowed her the opportunity to transition clients to Nerd Herd full-time. Excited about the opportunity to further serve the commercial HVAC community, Ashlei left SVL with her focus now set on empowering her growing client base with the strategic marketing  and creative services they needed to achieve exponential growth.

Now at Nerd Herd, Ashlei focuses her time and energy on what she loves most: partnering with commercial HVAC manufacturers  and rep firms, building industry-informed marketing programs, and mentoring client’s marketing teams on how to ensure strategic alignment between business and marketing goals. With each client, she advocates for the importance of marketers having a seat at the executive table.

The case for persistence and curiosity

Ask Ashlei about the secret to her success, and she’ll tell you there isn’t one. Instead, she attributes her success to her persistent curiosity. She is never satisfied with her current level of understanding and says there is always more to learn.

Ashlei recalls there have been several defining moments in her career where her ability was overlooked. despite Ashlei’s undeniable success. Rather than use this skepticism as a barrier, Ashlei has used it as motivation to work even harder, pulling from her innate perseverance that has always enabled her to succeed on her own terms. To the women navigating through predominantly-male industries, her advice is simple yet powerful:

Own your expertise. Believe in the value you bring to the table, and don’t be afraid to speak up. Embrace challenges as opportunities to showcase your skills and capabilities. These moments can be your defining moments.

Surround yourself with a supportive network, seek mentorship, and be a mentor to others. Get involved with your niche’s community, network in those circles and surround yourself with others who will advocate for you.

Find your voice, speak up, and never underestimate the value of your perspective. Remember, your journey is not just about breaking barriers but creating a path for others to follow.


When not working on Nerd Herd, Ashlei has a full personal life. She volunteers as a judge for Minnesota high school DECA competitions, does yoga to keep herself centered and focused, and she and her husband host hockey players for the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). Ashlei and her husband also recently welcomed their first child, a daughter she hopes to raise with the same ambition and values that has helped Ashlei overcome adversity and carve the path to where she is today.

Filling A Void

Gone are the days of spending months onboarding a marketing partner who doesn’t understand your customers. With a nuanced understanding of the unique demands within the HVACR sector, Nerd Herd eliminates this challenge. We understand that technical audiences avoid being marketed to. This is why your marketing partner needs to understand how to speak fluent engineer and craft content to resonate effectively with technical audiences. Collaborating closely with HVACR manufacturers, distributors and rep firms, like you, Nerd Herd aligns marketing goals with your business objectives, ensuring optimal allocation of every marketing dollar.

Our approach is rooted in industry expertise and using data-driven insights to ensure that every decision aligns with your company’s goals. As the HVACR industry adapts to the digital era, Nerd Herd emerges as your trusted partner.

A photo of Ashlei working

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