(Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 08--CEDAR FALLS -- Carolyn Hamrock says she started with a vision for a better Cedar Valley when she launched a small public relations, consulting and marketing firm, Vision Development Services, just over 25 years ago in Cedar Falls.
Its focus was on nonprofit clients. The company's retinue of local projects includes Cru, the Campus Crusade for Christ; Cedar Falls Bible Conference; Cedar Falls Historical Society; Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; The Jesus Film Project; Mercy Ships; and Rotary International.
"Many residents will recognize Vision's work through the successful fundraising projects for the Waterloo Memorial Stadium, the Hartman Reserve Nature Center, the Cedar Valley Soccer Complex, the Ice House Museum and the Oster Regent Theatre restoration," said Hamrock, chief executive officer. "I have served as Go Red for Women Chairman and on numerous boards and committees throughout the Cedar Valley."
Now, having helped a litany of nonprofit initiatives in the area, the company, at 2706 Bicentennial Drive, is looking to expand its influence across the region under new leadership and nomenclature.
As of Jan. 1, the privately held company, which has four full-time employees and a network of contractors, is called 1Vision. Blake Conover, a four-year employee who brought a background of banking, public relations and advertising to the company, now is its president.
"In the fundraising and marketing business, we, and our clients, have found that the quality and creativity of the staff matters more than the number of them," Hamrock said.
1Vision retains its flat organizational model, or one "without layers," Hamrock said.
She says that's a more efficient setup.
"Our clients speak directly to the appropriate team member," she said. "That lack of filtering reduces rework and speeds delivery -- two very important factors in our business."
Hamrock, who says she has led efforts to raise more than $1 billion for nonprofits over the years, said each member of the company's staff has more than 30 years in the advertising, fundraising, design or communication business.
"With that vast professional experience, there doesn't have to be much trial and error," she said.
Partnering with qualified professionals means 1Vision's projects succeed at a lower cost than if the company employed that capability. Strategic partnerships allow 1Vision to deliver all the services of agencies many times its size.
Technological connections make serving regional, national and international clients relatively easy, Hamrock said.
The company was drawn to nonprofits from its beginning.
"Vision's focus has always been on nonprofits and, in particular, faith-based nonprofits," she said. "We find that many of our clients prefer to employ an agency comprised of Christians. They don't have to persuade their agency of a biblical foundation, and they know our values will line up."
The company's name change is deeper than surface appearances, Hamrock said.
"New (leadership) means a new energy and a new emphasis," she said.
Conover's role will steadily increase, she said.
"Blake brings a wealth of experience to 1Vision," she said.
Conover, who was Vision's marketing and communication director, said he spent 10 years with CMF&Z -- at one time, the largest advertising agency in Iowa. He also put in 10 years as vice president of marketing for Northwest Financial, a $2 billion private banking organization, and just before coming to Vision was the development director for nonprofit Self Help International in Waverly.
"Because of my background in advertising and marketing, I feel I have some strengths there," Conover said. "Nonprofits are in need of really good, solid strategy-based communications, and that's an emphasis I want to bring to them."
1Vision will continue to be involved with local nonprofit efforts, but it also will look to expand its influence, Conover said.
"In the future, you'll see 1Vision have an impact in some of the regional and national nonprofits -- that's our hope, anyway," he said. "The local nonprofits are always important, and we'll never get away from trying to improve and impact our local communities. That's going to be ever-present. But if we can lend some expertise to organizations not based here, that's a positive, too."
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