Impact Proven Solutions, despite being a direct marketing company, has its roots in the furniture business, strangely enough.
In the 1960’s, George Johnson of Cambridge, MN, put his entrepreneurial streak to use and started a furniture store. The business was successful and continued to thrive into the next decade. By the time the mid-70’s came around, George was looking for a way to take his business to the next level.
The idea he finally landed on was to start a second business to support and promote his furniture sales. His plan was to write, publish, and distribute a local shopping guide. This would make him profits from advertisement and give him a way to spread the word about his store.
The shopping guide was a success, but, of course, George wasn’t ready to slow down. In the late 70’s, with the creation of a prosperous furniture store and advertising monthly under his belt, George turned his enterprising energies toward solving a problem that had been bothering him since he started the shopping guide.
The problem? High postage prices and the United States Postal Service’s monopoly on mail delivery.
An ordinary person would see that as a hurdle you just have to jump over and deal with. Not George, though. He saw it as a hurdle that he could move out of his way.
How? By starting his own delivery service. So in the early 80’s, instead of continuing to be frustrated with the USPS, he started a new company to compete with it. Advertiser’s Distribution Service (ADS), he called it.
In this era, databases of names, addresses, and other important prospect information were much harder to come by than they are today and thus more valuable. George hired Jim Peterson, who is still with Impact today, to hand enter the information from a phonebook into a database that would be the backbone of ADS and Impact into the late 80’s.
With this database, ADS was able to efficiently and effectively send mass mailings not only locally around Cambridge but also statewide as needed.
Obviously, ADS didn’t have the resources or infrastructure to manage such large mailings by themselves, so they began Impact as a subsidiary that would work with the USPS rather than compete with it.
The mid-80’s was a big time for this fledgling direct mail company with lots of challenges and changes.
In 1990, after several dry years and a couple rounds of disappointing leadership, Impact brought Mark Anderson, George Johnson’s son-in-law, onto the team as president. Mark came from First Bank as a 28-year-old who knew next to nothing about the mailing industry. But he had good sense and was a quick learner. He picked up the industry over his first few months and returned Impact to a place of success within a year.
During this time, as postage rates and the data involved in mailing grew more complex, computers were becoming more and more integral to the work being done in the mailing industry. So a few months after coming to Impact, Mark talked his brother-in-law Tim Johnson into leaving his IS consulting job with what is now Accenture and coming on board at Impact.
Throughout the early and mid-90’s, as Tim and Mark brought Impact into increasing profitability, they also saw the industry changing. Many pieces of the direct marketing industry that had formerly been the single focus of companies were now all available from large one-stop shops. Many companies were now offering the deal: mailing, printing, marketing, fulfillment, and—the new guy in town—email marketing. Many of the smaller companies that had made their business by focusing on just one of these aspects of direct marketing were closing their doors.
Staying ahead of the curve, Impact kept an eye on how they could expand their services and thereby increase the value they offered their customers. A major move forward in this regard was the addition, in 1997, of fulfillment to Impact’s list of available services.
Over the course of the next decade, Impact continued expanding their services, including the addition of data management, e-campaign management, creative services, and print management.
In 2007, Impact began an ambitious strategy of growth through acquisition. Over the course of the next two years, they purchased four competitors in and around the Twin Cities. Their first acquisition, Zipsort, brought with it 90 staff and a whole new area of service: critical documents.
The next two acquisitions, PrimeNet and the Star Tribune Direct Mail Division, brought almost 30 more team members and an increased strength in the area of analytics and data management.
Finally, Impact bought Advantage Mailing in Winsted, MN. This acquisition not only increased the Impact staff by 20, but also included some important pieces of direct marketing and e-marketing technologies and another campus, making Impact a 2-location company.
After this period of particular growth, Impact has taken time to settle into its relatively new personality as a mid-sized company. “Impact Mailing and Fulfillment” became “Impact Proven Solutions” to account for its expanded list of services. And Tim and Mark are focusing on defining the culture they hope to see at Impact and sharing this with the staff.
Three values motivate the work at Impact. First, people—both employees and clients. Second, attitude—having a good one, of course. And third, progress and operational excellence. The combination of these three values, developed from 30 years of experience and hard work, makes Impact a happy place to work and an effective, satisfying place to do business.
We’re Dedicated to Service
Our people are our strength.
The heart of Impact Proven Solutions is our enthusiastic, skilled, and innovative staff. We are men and women with the experience and expertise to meet any communications challenge you may have.
Impact employs more than 200 people who spend every day providing the roll-up-your-sleeves direct marketing services you need. With a smile.
There are currently no open positions at Impact.