10 Years in the Making: A Look Back with NAC

Where has the time gone? It’s hard to believe that NAC turns double digits in 2016! We get so busy that we often forget to make a big deal about our accomplishments, but we just can’t let our milestone 10th anniversary pass us by. To celebrate where we are, we first have to acknowledge where we came from, so here’s a little NAC history lesson.

In 2005, our founder Tawana Bain was heading up a local payroll firm. She grew the company to service about 100 small business clients, but she wasn’t passionate about the work. She knew her strengths were in strategic planning, marketing and sales, so she decided to branch out.

While pursuing her degree in French and computer science in college, Tawana supported herself by working in call centers. At the payroll company, she implemented a call center component as well. So it was only natural that she establish the first incarnation of NAC as a call center to do outbound marketing and sales. That was April 2006.

Later that year, Tawana hit a wall when she realized that the long turnaround to get paid was seriously hurting NAC’s cash flow. She knew she would need to go after larger clients who could pay on a monthly basis, so she’d decided it might pay off to get a “real” job.

After exploring the job market, Tawana observed that many local companies needed traditional marketing and marketing strategy services, too. She tried her hand at asking a few of the employers she interviewed with to consider contracting the work out.

As 2006 came to a close, her diligence paid off and NAC landed a retainer client - a local engineering firm that needed assistance with marketing and promoting its stream restoration software. They were our first full marketing support opportunity, and we are proud to still work with them today. While they are no longer our largest account, we still treat them as though they are.

RIVERMorph is near and dear to my heart. It’s like a favorite stuffed animal you get as a kid that is difficult to let go,” says Tawana.

Unlike many businesses, the recession of the late 2000s was one of the best things to happen to us. Marketing budgets got cut. Big companies laid off workers by the dozens. NAC represented a reasonably priced outsourcing model, and we had as much work as we could handle.

From 2008 to 2014, we doubled revenue and staff year over year, and our growth was driven by client demand. We added service areas based on what each of our clients needed. We began to do printing and promotional products, market research, websites and more. After about three years, NAC became the business that could do “all things marketing.”

We’ve moved around a bit over the years, too. We started off in an 800-square-foot office in Jeffersontown, then opened a 2-story, 3,000-square-foot dedicated call center during the height of the recession.

In 2014, we realized that brick and mortar limited our call center operations, so we made our call center work force home-based, moved our headquarters downtown to be more accessible to our major client base and added warehouse space for our promotional product inventory in Bluegrass Industrial Park. This new operations model was a win-win – it gave staff options of where they could work based on convenience and solidified our ability to be flexible.

Other major milestones have boosted our profile in recent years. In 2012, NAC was able to secure a large data survey project with Humana. We competed with some major players to land that contract, which gave us a big boost in credibility. After we proved ourselves on that project, Humana and Humana Government gave us a huge chunk of their promotional products business at a national level. We almost broke an arm patting ourselves on the back!

Toyota took a chance on us to provide survey and event services for their annual Opportunity Exchange attended by over 2,000 business professionals, an annual tradeshow designed to connect their Tier 1 Suppliers with women and minority businesses. Wells Fargo started out just using our writing and PR services, but our relationship has expanded to include major benchmark studies, market analysis and event support projects. We are so lucky to work with such awesome companies.

Then, in 2013, we won the National Minority Supplier Development Council’s “Regional Supplier of the Year Award.” How cool is that?

Our growth slowed slightly in 2015, but it gave us a much-needed break to catch our breath. In the past year, we’ve been taking a hard look at who we are and what we want to be going forward. We’ve streamlined our mission and our pitch to focus on three core areas: marketing, research and support. Rather than try to be everything to everyone, we’re going to really work hard to cultivate our strengths.

Also, as we mentioned in our last post, we’ve always relied on freelance contractors to supplement our services, but we’ve decided to expand and deepen our relationships with those invaluable external resources going forward. Plus, we’ve got plans to go national and open satellite offices where it’s warm year round. Who knows … you just might see NAC pop up in Charlotte, Jacksonville, Houston or San Antonio within the next two years. Keep your eyes peeled!

Yes, we have to look back in order to move forward. We are fortunate to have had such a successful run so far, and we’re lucky to work with some amazing clients year after year. We hope you’ll connect forward with NAC and ride the next wave with us!