Some people might be surprised why so many direct response companies are based in the great state of Maine. I traveled to Maine recently (It was my first trip and won’t be my last) to find out.
Jason Levesque – CEO, Argo Marketing Group – “It starts actually before DR. I think DR is a side effect from the infrastructure of Maine. It had the oldest telephony infrastructure in the country. Part of the Strategic Air Command‘s initiative [was] to upgrade to digital and fiber so to support American defense systems.”
Mike Flautten – CFO, Great Falls Marketing – “This area of Maine has a DR background from Talk America. So many media companies have been here—call centers, fulfillment centers. It’s perfect to have this type of business in Maine because there’s not a ton of great paying jobs. Apart from the culture of Talk America, there’s a culture of a bunch of mill towns, industries closed down, and people need work. It’s a great fit for us being in Maine.”
Chris Homer – CEO, Dr. Newton’s Naturals – “I was one of the few who was not originally from Maine. I am from upstate New York. But I came up here for an opportunity with Talk America back in the day and stayed. It’s a great place and had a lot of opportunity. At that point, I was learning the direct response business and there just seemed to be a very direct response focus; through the call centers and LL Bean experience, or just doing business in Maine with the way life should be approached was very appealing.”
Jeff Small – Founder & CEO, Strategic Media – “Lots of people had exposure from the growth of Talk America and learning what works and what doesn’t much like what we are doing with the various mediums we are involved in and different platforms of DR.”
Craig Lennon – Director of Business Development, Ship-Right Solutions – “Fulfillment across the country is somewhat of a challenge because we are in the extreme Northeast. However, for a lot of our dietary supplements, skin, health & beauty clients that have very small items, there’s no disadvantage. Operating in Maine is great, labor rates are pretty low, and we have the advantage of being able to compete with some of the other fulfillment players.”
Tony Ricciardi – President & Co-Founder, ListenTrust – “It’s really interesting how one company (Talk America) can change the industry in a state. I got here when Talk America was ending and a lot of entrepreneurs were coming out of it and started their own businesses based on what they learned [in terms of] how to market.”
Bill Southwick – Vice President of Sales & Marketing, OrderLogix – “The ability to live here and raise a family. There’s a certain ethic here that is unique to Maine. A lot of times you get into a ‘This is Home’ kind of culture. Maine is unique to the fact that we have multiple segments of Maine. But Maine is a tourist destination for so many. And it has been populated from a variety of different ethnicities; whether that’s French, Irish, Greek, Jewish; and a lot of families coming from the Middle East are finding a way to re-start their lives and re-connect in Maine.”
Scott Badger – Founder & CEO, KPI Direct & Rivet Digital Marketing – “As legend has it, they came out of two big companies, Talk America and Media Power. They started in the ‘80s when the infomercial businesses were super-hot and those businesses evolved and sort of [became] a fountain or springboard for people learning the business from the product side or agency side or call center side—and then going off and starting their own call center or running their own products.”
Bottom line, Maine has been a great place for entrepreneurs in the DR industry to build their businesses, give back to their communities, and also raise their families in a setting that is hard to match anywhere!
Jim Perrus is Vice President, Membership and Retention at ERA.