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Nadji Tehrani
Executive Group Publisher, Editor-in-Chief

Countdown To The 25th Anniversary (June 2006) Issue
Recognizing Industry Pioneers With Lifetime Achievement Awards


When we launched Telemarketing® magazine in June of 1982, there was no such thing as telemarketing, contact centers or a CRM industry. In fact, after the second issue, there was nothing to write about. As I indicated in my April 2006 editorial, the magazine editor came to my office and said, “I can’t find anything to write about...are you sure this is an industry?” I replied, “No, I am not sure, but we will make it an industry.” With a tagline that read: The magazine of ELECTRONIC MARKETING and Communications...how could you possibly fail?! Yes, we worked very hard gathering information to educate our global readers and tried to make it an industry. We would go anywhere to find success stories with which to encourage the world to use telemarketing...this new, out-of-the-box, evolutionary idea to generate sales (outbound) and to handle customer service (inbound).

Building The Industry Was A Team Effort
It has been said that, “Nothing great is achieved without great team work armed with a positive, can-do attitude!!” We were fortunate to have many outstanding leaders, visionaries and competent managers in our emerging industry. They each contributed tirelessly, vigorously and relentlessly to make it all happen. I was fortunate enough to work shoulder-to-shoulder with these outstanding leaders. Honestly, without their significant contributions, there would be NO industry!

"Nothing great is achieved without great team work armed with a positive,
can-do attitude!!"

We figured that, as the industry’s preeminent magazine since 1982, it is our paramount responsibility to recognize those industry leaders by honoring them with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” during our 21st Annual Top 50/MVP Quality Awards Dinner Meeting.

I should point out that, without question, there are a considerable number of other outstanding contributors to our industry and, given the available time and space, we were unable to appreciate all of the contributors to our industry’s success at this time. Hopefully, we will locate those individuals for recognition in future Top 50/MVP events. Consequently, I sincerely hope that they will understand.

Having said the above, I would now like to describe the contributions of a few of the leaders with whom I have had close relationships during the past 25 years. Tracey Schelmetic, Editorial Director of CIS magazine, has contributed significantly to the selection of the winners and has already prepared complete biographies, including the achievements of the award winners, which you will find on page 36. (Part two of these biographies will appear in the June 2006 issue.)

Here are Some of the Outstanding Visionaries and What They Have Done for our Industry:

1. The Omaha Group’s Contributions Were Truly Vital To The Industry’s Success And Development.
Shortly after we launched Telemarketing® magazine, which has now evolved into Customer Inter@ction Solutions® magazine, I discovered that it was necessary for me to travel to Omaha, Nebraska to learn from the leaders in that town. Therefore, in 1982, I traveled to Omaha, which was known as “the capital of telemarketing” in America, to learn from the leaders. While I was in Omaha, I met a dedicated young man named Ray Golden who took a major interest in my education. In fact, he took one week away from work simply to drive me to visit various industry leaders and to make sure that I received a proper education about the basic principles of inbound and outbound telemarketing. I must state categorically that the information that I gained by traveling to Omaha was vitally important to the future success of the industry and our publication, Telemarketing®.

2. Mary and Gary West Literally Went Out Of Their Way To Educate Me By Introducing Me To Every Department That Made Telemarketing Function Effectively.
Mary West of West Corporation is particularly appreciated for literally guiding me from department to department and making sure that I got the appropriate education. Needless to say, I am enormously grateful to Mary and Gary West for their contributions toward my education at the highest quality level available at that time. Mary and Gary West were founders and senior executives of West Corporation, which is one of the leading and most prestigious, respected and diversified teleservices outsourcing companies in our space.

In subsequent visits to Omaha, I again met with the above individuals and continued the learning process with other highly respected industry gurus. As a matter of fact, the methodology that we use today in determining the Top 50 inbound and outbound companies, which we have done for the last 21 years, was originally recommended to me by Gary West, Founder and Chairman of West Corporation. Once again, I acknowledge their contributions and I am gratefully indebted to them for their dedications to our industry’s progress.

The magazine editor came to my office and said, "I can't find anything to write about...are you sure this is an industry?" I replied, "No, I am not sure, but we will make it an industry."

3. Steve and Sheri Idelman Also Contributed Significantly To My Outbound Education.
I am also gratefully indebted to Sheri and Steve Idelman, who spent considerable time educating me about the principles of outbound telemarketing, in particular. Steve and Sheri Idelman were the founders of ITI Marketing, which became the number one outbound teleservices company in less than five years. To the industry, Steve and Sheri were known as the King and Queen of Outbound.

The Idelmans also contributed immensely to the development and progress of the contact center industry. Everything Steve and Sheri touched turned into GOLD! For example, Steve acquired a CBA basketball team called The Omaha Racers. Within one year, Steve turned that team into the champions of CBA basketball!!

4. Convergys Also Deserves Significant Recognition.
It goes without saying that Convergys, (news - alert) along with West Corporation, are without question the industry leaders in the outsourced teleservices business. Convergys has been a true leader in outsourcing, consulting and software solutions over many years, and I have had the great pleasure of working closely with them during that time. Convergys combines the industry experience it has earned after more than two decades in the teleservices industry with cutting-edge software, operational expertise and world-class call center facilities to help its clients create valuable relationships with their customers and employees. Customer Inter@ction Solutions® recognizes Convergys as one of the industry’s most valuable contributors to outsourced customer care, HR business process outsourcing (BPO) and billing solutions and service.

5. Gary Taylor, Chairman of InfoCision Management Corp., Also Merits Outstanding Recognition.
I have had the great fortune of knowing Gary Taylor for approximately 20 years. I recall Gary visiting our Telemarketing and Business Telecommunications (TBT) trade shows in the mid 1980s and acquiring technology for his call centers back then. Since that time, as we all know, he has established InfoCision Management Corporation, which has earned MVP Quality Awards every year since the award’s inception in 1993. It goes without saying that no other company has earned that many primarily Gold and a few Silver awards. At the moment, InfoCision (news - alert) not only has one of the highest quality teleservices operations in the world, but the company is also enjoying significant annual growth.

Four-Year College Education To Legitimize Our Industry
What truly distinguishes Gary from many others is the fact that he has contributed 3.5 million dollars of his own personal money to the University of Akron to set up the Taylor Institute For Direct Marketing. The primary objective of this Institute is to develop a fouryear college program to train and educate the future leaders of the contact center/direct marketing industries and, as such, Gary Taylor has brought the greatest credibility and legitimacy to our industry. We believe this dedicated personal contribution of Gary Taylor and his wife Karen deserves tremendous recognition and appreciation by the entire industry.

6. Aspect Software Also Deserves Recognition For Their Unsurpassed Achievements.
As you may know, this company started out by the name of Davox Corporation, which made great contributions to our industry under the leadership of Al Lucchese, former Chairman and CEO, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Customer Inter@ction Solutions® magazine nearly 10 years ago.

The company subsequently made several acquisitions and eventually was named Concerto Corporation. (news - alert) A few years ago, Jim Foy, the outstanding CEO of the company, joined Concerto, and upon accepting the job, he stated that in a few years Concerto would be a billion-dollar company. Sure enough, not long ago, Concerto acquired first Rockwell’s ACD division and then acquired Aspect Corporation for one billion dollars. Thus, the new combined organization became Aspect Software.

Today, Aspect Software positions itself as the world’s largest supplier to the contact center industry and, as a result, the company, as well as Jim Foy, Gary Barnett, Jim Mitchell, Ralph Breslauer as well as the entire Aspect Software team deserve tremendous credit for having built such an outstanding company.

I was fortunate enough to work shoulder-to-shoulder with these outstanding leaders. Honestly, without their significant contributions, there would be NO industry!

7. Richard Brock, Chairman And CEO Of The Former Brock Control Systems.
All industry insiders who have been around 10 or more years remember what a great company Brock Control Systems was. Brock Control Systems was fortunate enough to have a visionary and ambitious CEO, Richard Brock, who in a relatively short period of time made this company the number one provider of contact center automation software with better than 80 percent market share! Richard Brock not only had a great understanding of the technology and the needs of the industry, but he also understood marketing, perhaps better than anyone at that time. Richard dominated every one of the TBT shows (the industry’s leading convention, sponsored by TMC) and, as such, every attendee understood and respected Brock Control Systems for being a true technology leader. One of the outstanding ideas that Brock Control Systems implemented was as follows: as soon as a sales lead was obtained at one of the TBT shows, that potential customer (included in the sales lead) would receive a proposal from Brock Control Systems via Federal Express in his or her office the minute he or she returned from the TBT convention! In short, Brock contributed tremendously to the automation of the contact center industry. I also consider Richard Brock to be a marketing genius, exceptional leader and entrepreneur’s entrepreneur!

8. Joe Porfeli Took EIS To The Highest Level Ever.
EIS Corporation (news - alert) actually started on the south side of Stamford, Connecticut, with a relatively small group of employees — under 12 people. Selection of Joe Porfeli as the CEO of EIS Corporation was, in my humble opinion, the most important decision the founders could have made.

Joe helped to grow EIS from a small, relatively unknown organization to the most respected company with by far the largest market share when it came to predictive dialer manufacturing and sales. The company grew from approximately a dozen people to in excess of 150 employees. Once upon a time, under Joe Porfeli’s leadership, the company supplied predictive dialers to 80 percent of the Top 50 teleservices companies, not to mention many other in-house enterprise users. EIS, in a relatively short period of time, gained global recognition, helped the industry grow and was extremely profitable.

In 1982, I traveled to Omaha, which was known as "the capital of telemarketing" in America, to learn from the leaders.

The Meetings At Il Falco Restaurant
I was fortunate enough to be a close friend of Joe Porfeli and, having lived in the same town where EIS was headquartered, it was easy for me to have the great pleasure of having dinner with Joe Porfeli at Il Falco restaurant every month! What is more important is that I used to take a yellow notepad and plenty of pens with me to these dinners, and I would always emerge from the meeting with a notebook full of great management ideas and lessons from the master! It was as if I had attended a graduate business course at Harvard. Frankly, what I learned from Joe Porfeli about management, they don’t teach at Harvard! There are those in our industry who refer to Joe as the “Jack Welch of our industry” and frankly, I don’t see any reason to disagree with them! Because of these great contributions, he also deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award. Please expect to see a full report on the awards dinner ceremony for the Top 50/MVP recipients in the June issue of Customer Inter@ction Solutions® magazine.

By the way, the June issue, which will be our 25th anniversary issue, will be spectacular in terms of content, design, etc., and like the first issue of Telemarketing® magazine, it will also be a collector’s item! As always, I welcome your comments. Please e-mail them to me at [email protected].

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or PDF format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at http://www.reprintbuyer.com or contact a representative via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 800-290-5460.

For information and subscriptions, visit http://www.TMCnet.com or call 203-852-6800.


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