Becoming a Business Owner Fulfills a Dream
When my husband, Francois, and I meet new people at business functions or parties, they ask us what we do. Usually, we tell them we own a marketing firm in Downtown Pittsburgh, and they don’t ask additional questions.
Sometimes, however, people want to know more. Specifically, they want to know how we, as natives of France, became business owners in our adopted country. Depending upon the situation, we have a long and short version of the story. Here’s the longer one:
In the mid-90s, Francois, who was working for Honeywell in France, was offered a chance to re-locate for two or three years to the company’s headquarters in Phoenix. The plan was to gain valuable experience and complete an MBA.
Those two or three years have turned into 16 and counting. A series of promotions and a green card for our family came along, so we decided to stay. Francois’ expertise and knowledge made him a desirable person to hire, and he was recruited to work for a large manufacturer in western Pennsylvania. That’s what brought us to Pittsburgh in May 2003.
Shortly after we re-located from west to east, we applied for U.S. citizenship because it was required for Francois’ work. At the same time, we welcomed our twin girls into the world.
Francois had a great 13-year career at Kennametal, advancing to executive vice president of strategic marketing and new business development.
After leaving Kennametal, he decided to switch gears. The time was right for us to become business owners, a dream second only to the opportunity to live in this country.
Initially, Francois became a partner in a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm that provides strategic business consulting, as well as training in leadership, sales and marketing.
As part of his vision, Francois agreed to join forces with Levy Industrial, a full-service marketing firm, as vice president of strategic marketing. The relationship was a mutually beneficial one, as Francois was helping clients develop strategies through velocityHub that Levy implemented by creating marketing communications programs and tools, including promotional campaigns, websites, ads, brochures, tradeshow booths, catalogs, direct-mail pieces, news releases and applications stories.
Less than a year into the partnership, the owner of Levy Industrial announced he wanted to sell his business, and Francois was his first choice among potential buyers.
When this situation arose, Francois told me, “You take opportunities when you see them, not necessarily when you expect them.”
So, in June 2018, we bought the business, he became CEO and owner of the company, changed the focus of the business and changed the name to LEVY Marketers for Industry + Tech.
Instead of providing mostly traditional marketing services and work products, we now spend most of our time developing and implementing customized marketing automation programs for clients in the manufacturing and tech sectors that use their websites and web technology to generate sales leads and turn those leads into revenue.
Francois had this business idea in-mind for a long time, and he fulfilled it when reorganizing LEVY by helping clients use the most up-to-date software to “make marketing count."
At each step of the process we use, it’s possible to measure the results of any given activity so clients can continue with successful ones and quickly shift gears if necessary without having spent a lot of time and money pursuing markets that aren’t interested in a given product or service.
Because our capabilities are rare, if not unique, among marketing firms, we have expanded our client base from the Pittsburgh area, where most of our clients are based, to the Boston area, California, Ohio and Europe.
In fact, LEVY is adding about two clients each month, having started with a roster of 60 in June of last year, we’re now up to 80.
Although the geographic diversity of our client base is broadening, LEVY will remain based in Pittsburgh. It has been home to us for 16 years and counting, and our twin girls were born in the city.
We have roots in Pittsburgh that grow deeper each year, and it’s a city which grows on you. When strolling downtown during lunch, you can look up and see beautiful architecture that reminds of Europe. I hope the latest renaissance will make the city even more beautiful than it already is.
The vibe of creativity and opportunity is palpable and being around other entrepreneurs and innovators makes one want to help them bring their visions to reality. Francois and I know a lot of business owners, and it’s exhilarating to learn about their personal journeys, as well as about their companies or business ideas.
As marketers, we have a tremendous opportunity to promote many of these wonderful companies and help them succeed by reaching target audiences in ways that they are comfortable receiving information. Today’s marketing environment, which includes social media platforms, is more about educating and less about selling.
Francois and I are proud to call ourselves Pittsburghers and to be part of one of the most spectacular turnarounds of a city in the United States, if not the world.
At LEVY, we look forward to continuing to do our part to continue making the Steel City one of the best places to live and work in the United States of America, our adopted country.
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