#78: Concentric Marketing

Having high expectations and focusing on goals helped this company stay centered.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The three co-founders of Concentric Marketing in Charlotte, NorthCarolina, are the first to admit they started their company at theworst possible time. It was in September 2000, the beginning of theeconomic downturn, that Robert Shaw, 39; Tricia Snead, 34; andFrank Rizzo, 36, opened the doors of their marketing agency.

"We've never allowed the economy to be an excuse,"says Shaw. "I'm by nature a hypercompetitive individualwho sets unreasonable goals." Not that unreasonable,considering the fact that Concentric Marketing went from fiveemployees at start-up to 19 employees today, and sales of $267,000their first year to a projected $8.8 million in 2003. This year,the company came in at No. 78 on our Hot 100 list.

Although the three co-founders struggled in the beginningstages, their business exploded as they started to land hugeaccounts such as Coca-Cola and Sonic Automotive. Hiring the bestpeople for the job has been an important factor in achievingsuccess, according to the partners. Says Shaw, "The extra twoweeks you take to find the right person pays off times 100 in thelong run."

Not only does Concentric Marketing extensively screen andinterview prospects to make certain they're as driven andcompetitive as the founders, but they also structure the company toplay on everyone's strengths. For instance, Shaw is thecompany's visionary and strategic marketing guru, Snead is thecreative force and Rizzo is the financial mind.

One of the biggest challenges arising from fast growth has beencommunication between the three partners. "As the companygrows, yelling over the cube is not a good way to function,"explains Snead. "When we started experiencing this hugeexplosion in growth, it was time to put the right people in placeand make sure the processes were in place before the agency got toobig for us to wrap our arms around--and that's what we're[still] doing."

That process includes maintaining a delicate balance betweenbeing happy with their growth and striving for more. The expansionstrategy, Shaw explains, "is to allow people to catch theirbreath a little bit and feel great about what they'veaccomplished, and still keep that burning desire and ambition goingto never feel satisfied."

With plans to grow the company more than 100 percent in the nextyear, Concentric Marketing's founders seem to have the burningdesire part down.

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