2005 – Present
PRIVATELY HELD DATA PUBLISHING COMPANY
DIVISION GENERAL MANAGER
Recruited to form a new division within a privately held data publishing company, focusing on the sale of information to auto lenders and auto insurers. Established in 1986, the company had staked out a position as the leader in its market for consumers and auto dealers but had not actively pursued opportunities in the financial services arena. I was brought in to establish an independent division and a long-term vision for growing revenues from financial services companies.
Given the market’s lack of exposure to this unique information, my first priority was to build brand awareness with banks and insurance companies and to educate the market regarding the usefulness of this new resource for specific lending and insurance applications. This was achieved through the introduction of an in-house business-to-business telemarketing operation in conjunction with a marketing program focused on direct mail and conference exhibits. As a result, revenues in my first year increased by 29.9%.
FY 2010 9.5%
FY 2009 15.1%
FY 2008 43.2%
FY 2007 16.8%
FY 2006 29.9%
FY 2005 -6.0%
Market research indicated that the company’s one-size-fits-all product approach was limiting our ability to tap the largest potential market segments within auto lenders and auto insurers. In order to enter these markets, we created a suite of new electronic data products and established a field sales team due to the more complex nature of sales involving data integration. By 2010, this new product line was delivering 34% of division revenues and is on pace exceed 50% by 2012, up from 0% in 2006.
Overall, division revenues increased three-fold from 2005 to 2010 while the gross profit margin remained relatively consistent despite sizable investments in staff (23 employees in 2010, up from 3 in 2005). The division is currently positioned for 30%+ annual revenue growth through 2012.
2004 – 2005
RUTBERG INFORMATION SERVICES, LLC
West Palm Beach, Florida
PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Launched this online publishing firm to monetize the institutional research of Rutberg & Company, a boutique investment bank focused on wireless technology companies. Rutberg’s research team had spent three years developing a proprietary database and sector framework that was considered the premier research tool for identifying and mapping private wireless companies. Primary users included manufacturers, the press, venture capitalists, corporate acquirers, and investment banks. I was tasked with building a business around the distribution of this database.
Within my first three months, I had conducted two rounds of market research, assembled a four-person staff, and launched a beta product. The www.RIS.com research tool was then officially launched in January 2005, generating 1.2 million hits in the first 60 days despite a bootstrap marketing budget. Employing both a disguised advertising model and a subscription model, pre-launch revenues covered 48% of overhead and the company was on pace to achieve profitability within its second year of operation.
1997 - 2003
WEISS RATINGS, INC.
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Recruited to this $5 million privately owned rating agency/publishing firm in 1997 as President & CEO by Dr. Martin Weiss, the company’s founder and owner. A division of The Weiss Group, Weiss Ratings evaluated the financial stability of banks and insurance companies as well as the investment quality of stocks and mutual funds, publishing the results in a variety of print and electronic formats. Prior to my arrival, the Weiss Ratings subsidiary had never turned a profit; thus, my initial mandate was to have the company operating profitably within 12 months.
Nine months after my hire, Weiss Ratings was recording consistent monthly profits, leading to the company’s first annual profit in 1998. From 1996 to 2002, revenues increased five-fold and the company’s profit margin steadily improved from –36.0% in 1996 to +17.8% in 2000 before falling off due to a change in The Weiss Group’s strategy to emphasize growth over profits.
Growth Profit Margin
2002 31.9% 12.0%
2001 11.5% 5.1%
2000 24.2% 17.8%
1999 31.2% 14.8%
1998 65.7% 11.0%
1997* 31.8% -33.0%
1996 2.9% -36.0%
* I joined Weiss Ratings in April 1997.
My initial market research in 1997 revealed that the company lacked brand awareness, plus it had been overlooking its business-to-business sales opportunities while focusing on less-profitable business-to-consumer sales. In response, marketing was refocused on an active public relations program and the creation of an in-house business-to-business telemarketing operation. In addition, all PR and marketing communications were re-branded to focus on the company’s core strategic strengths as identified in the market research (i.e. accuracy and independence).
As a result, Weiss Ratings quickly moved from near anonymity to an expert source for major media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, CNBC, and CNN. The company’s increased exposure also generated a demand for license agreements to redistribute Weiss Ratings’ content, contributing 6% to 2002 revenues.
Customer purchases were converted from a single purchase ideology to a subscription-based system, generating a renewal revenue stream that accounted for 48% of revenues by 2002. By focusing on customer retention, the average renewal rate for subscription-based products steadily improved each year, reaching 74% in 2002.
The product line was reduced from 78 products in 1996 to 48 profitable products in 1997, most of which were then overhauled to achieve a more modern look and to take advantage of recent technological advances. The number of product offerings was then systematically expanded to 132 by 2003 through new product introductions, including:
- stock ratings and research reports;
- mutual fund ratings and research reports;
- consumer-oriented newsletters;
- Internet-based subscription services; and
- self-help reports customized to the consumer’s individual needs or demographics.
After establishing the Weiss Group’s only Internet presence in 1998, www.WeissRatings.com was overhauled in 2000 to introduce e-commerce and lead generation vehicles. Through search engine optimization and strategic alliances, year-over-year website revenues were up 496% in 2002, generating an average of 8,000 unique visitors daily and contributing 7% to 2002 revenues.
In 2001, The Weiss Group decided to redirect Weiss Ratings’ focus to place a greater emphasis on growth as measured by revenues, number of products, and number of customers. In order to achieve this new mandate, marketing to consumers and individual investors was pursued more aggressively through both e-mail and direct mail promotions. In addition, the company’s public relations budget was tripled to $600k by doubling the print media outreach program and introducing congressional outreach and broadcast media outreach programs.
By mid-2003, the Weiss Ratings staff had increased to 55 (up from 11 in 1997) in order to accommodate the launch and maintenance of new products directed at the consumer market (27 new product introductions in 2003 alone). While these actions lowered the company’s profit margin, they nonetheless delivered the growth The Weiss Group was seeking.
As the company grew, I also implemented:
- a series of internal controls and performance measures to track the effectiveness of new sales and marketing initiatives;
- expense controls;
- incentive bonus plans;
- a detailed budgeting process; and
- formal annual strategic planning, including competitive analysis and a review of potential acquisition candidates.
1985 - 1997
SHESHUNOFF INFORMATION SERVICES, INC.
VICE PRESIDENT - INSTITUTIONAL MARKET PRODUCTS
Joined this $30 million print and electronic publishing company on the ground floor and spearheaded the growth of its data product lines to the banking industry and into institutional markets. By 1997, Sheshunoff had expanded to six product lines within its Data Products division (up from two in 1985), including the BankSearch product line I launched in 1993 which had become a $3 million business.
In addition, our superior data accuracy and product ease of use firmly established Sheshunoff as the leading source for banking industry data and analysis, cultivating a premium brand image and allowing the company to expand its scope to include a separate non-data publishing division.
1995 Vice President – Institutional Market Products
Selected to manage a $3 million development initiative for three new CD-based products to compliment Sheshunoff’s BankSearch CD product line and leverage its existing customer installations in the institutional market. In this role, I conducted all market research, defined each product’s user needs and content, selected data suppliers, and negotiated their contracts while building and directing three new departments to handle data collection, product design, and support.
1994 Vice President – Financial Information Products
Promoted to supervise product management and new product development for Sheshunoff’s Data Products division. Managed and trained financial analysts in the areas of bank analysis, project management, and database management. In early 1995, I directed the overhaul of Sheshunoff’s financial institutions rating system based upon a multivariate correlation and regression analysis. I also led the integration team during the 1994 acquisition of Ferguson & Company, a $2 million publishing firm specializing in CD and diskette-based bank analysis products.
1992 Vice President – Financial Analysis/New Product Development
In order to increase the company’s focus on new product development, I was promoted to this newly created position to cultivate new product concepts, conduct market research, develop implementation plans, and coordinate staff resources. My largest new product initiative during this time was the BankSearch product line, a CD-based series of financial databases launched in 1993.
1987 Senior Financial Analyst
Promoted to this leadership role to mentor other analysts and concentrate on expanding the company’s product lines. Designed the data content and layout for Sheshunoff’s 1988 CD-based joint venture with OneSource. Managed the introduction of regulatory reporting software for the savings and loan and bank holding company industry segments.
1985 Financial Analyst
Joined Sheshunoff in this entry level position where I contributed to the company’s small cadre of existing products while developing new ones. Was solely responsible for initiating the company’s coverage of bank holding companies. Also worked in the Investment Banking department for six months assisting in bank merger and acquisition analyses.
Texas A&M University
BBA in Finance, 1985
Thomson University Executive Education
Senior Management Coursework, 1995
- Natural leader and motivator with proven ability to generate respect and loyalty from staff and customers.
- Strategic thinking with a track record for identifying opportunities and seizing them.
- Experienced in all forms of marketing for reaching both businesses and consumers, including direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing, e-marketing, and field sales.
- Highly intelligent with the ability to grasp complex matters and communicate them in simple terms.
- Deep analytical skills with a keen understanding of financial institutions and investments.
- Maintain high standards for loyalty, integrity, and ethics.
- Proven written and oral communication skills including drafting white papers and submissions to the SEC, editing press releases, handling major press interviews, and public speaking.
- Resilient and tenacious; driven by competition.
- Market research specialist able to understand customer wants and needs and convert them into relevant products and product enhancements.