Alex Marchetti: Alex Marchetti, president and CEO of Whitestone Marketing Group. Our company was launched based upon friends that I had that were looking for some marketing consulting folks to come in and help them build some strategies that were going to be some direct mail campaigns. Having a graphic design background and having a marketing degree I said sure and I asked him what was involved and they told us. We created the campaigns for them and he said, “But we need to have these mailed.”, and I said, “Well we don’t really have any mail capabilities, but we’ll look into that.” I said, “Are you sure you’re going to get this contract?”, and he said, “Absolutely.” I said, “How much is it?” He said, “$100,000.” I said, “Okay, we’ll be back in a week.” In a week we came back and decided we could buy a tabletop inkjetter and a tabber for about $40,000 of which we did and from that point in time we struggled with the operational aspect of that because our focus was we’re a creative people. We’re a strategic people and we thought that by insuring the quality we would insure the quality if we were able to bring in the equipment. Well we were very successful because we spent 20 hours a day working on this and actually tabbing by hand in some cases that we got more clients and as more clients came in we bought more equipment and before you knew it we had three inkjets and we had two Series 8 Pitney Bowes inserters and we had a 10,000 square foot warehouse all for an operational support of what we were doing from a consulting practice.
We topped out at about 75 employees and we did get one political mailing campaign that we ended up with 40 temporary employees coming in on top of our 75. At that point in time I said to myself I think we’ve lost our way. We did a very good job and we continued to get business, but I am not an operational person and I do believe that the engineering technology side of this I can understand that. However, my expertise remained over on the strategic conceptual side, so with that we began selling off our production equipment with the agreement that the people that we sold this to, the companies that we sold this to would be our partners and we then were able to go back and refocus on our expertise and our core competencies while we were able to push this back over to some other companies that had core competencies, build a great relationship and that was a total evolution and the reason that we did this is because we saw the evolution within the industry that becoming more complex. There were more channels available and that it was going to become more and more difficult to figure out how to integrate these channels and as we see this marketing in itself has not changed and we have a formal education in marketing and communications. Marketing has not changed. What has changed is the available channels that you have to communicate and thereby becoming a very complex issue. So I would encourage anyone who considers becoming a marketing services provider to really define what that is and what that transition is to that point where you want to be a marketing services provider. It’s a long transition, but it can be to your benefit if you can scope it out and plan it properly.