A decade ago, Steve Scanlan saw an entrepreneurial opportunity and seized it.
He founded Industry Marketing Solutions in 2003 and implemented a business strategy for his new company that has proved highly successful. The business began with just nine employees housed in a small suite of offices at the Trolley Center in downtown Fort Dodge. It quickly outgrew that venue and in January 2006 moved to its current location - the entire, 7,200-square-foot second floor of the Boston Centre, 809 Central Ave. Scanlan said the company now has a work force of 26 and markets its products not only in the United States, but also - thanks to the Internet - internationally.
"I would say that 99 percent of the revenue that we bring in is from out of state," Scanlan said. "And our payroll is 100 percent in-state. It's good for the local economy."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Industry Marketing Solutions owner Steve Scanlan, right; his wife, Tara Scanlan, human resources and accounting manager; and son Josh Scanlan, who handles Web and social media, gather around manager Theresa McClintock in their Boston Centre offices.
Industry Marketing Solutions creates and distributes business-to-business publications. These magazines are advertising mechanisms through which products and services are offered to specialized markets.
"It's a publishing company," Scanlan explained. "We have six different publications. ... We have a sales staff that sells the advertising. We have a design team that puts the ads together. ... The publications are strictly advertising."
Each of the six magazines exists both in a hard-copy print edition and digital form. They are free to the recipients because the advertising pays for the production and distribution. Scanlan said the print editions each have a circulation of between 10,000 and 15,000 copies per month.
That, however, is only part of the story.
"We also email out another 30,000 to 40,000 a month depending on the publication," Scanlan said. "It's digital where they can flip through it on their computer."
Each publication also has a website that features an array of information relevant to the targeted audiences.
"There's a lot more content on there," Scanlan said of the websites. "We do banner ads, trade show calendars, event calendars, press releases from our advertisers. ... We also have a YouTube channel where we upload videos from our customers that play on our channel that's available on our website. We do a lot of social media."
Looking to the future, Scanlan said his team is exploring making the publications available for perusal on e-readers.
He said it is vital to keep the company's products fully in sync with technological changes and opportunities in the rapidly evolving marketing world.
Keys to success
Scanlan stressed that finding the right people to staff the sales force and training them appropriately had been keys to the success of the company in the past and would remain so in the future.
"The biggest challenge, I would say, is finding people," he said. "Unlike a lot of companies ... we're very hands-on with the sales training. It's a one-on-one sales training from the time you step in the door. ... All sorts of intense training to make them succeed."
Scanlan said when recruiting new staff members he pays particular attention to a prospective team member's personality and attitude.
"It's not as much sales experience," he said. "We look for the personality - a good personality and an upbeat attitude. We've found that we can train almost anybody who has those two aspects to become a successful salesperson."
Meet Steve Scanlan
Scanlan grew up in Lake City, where he graduated from high school in 1981. He continued his education at Iowa Central Community College and Buena Vista University and earned a bachelor's degree in business.
"I started with Heartland the first year I came to college and was in sales," Scanlan said. "I've been in the business for over 30 years. I worked at Heartland Communications for 20 of them. The last five years, I was president and CEO of Heartland Communications."
Steve Scanlan has been joined in the business by two family members. His wife, Tara Scanlan, is the accounting and human resources manager. Son Josh Scanlan plays a key role in helping develop the company's Web and social media strategies.
Steve Scanlan said he greatly enjoys his role as president of Industry Marketing Solutions.
"We have a great staff," he said. "It's a fun environment. It's great working with my family on a daily basis. It's very satisfying."