Growing company finds niche market
Andrew Conti pointed to the magazines resting on a desk inside the offices of Publishers Service Associates.
“Science News,” “Log Cabin Homes,” “Military Heritage” and “The Red Bulletin” are just some of the publications this Williamsport-based company works with.
“We handle all of the fulfillment for these magazines,” explained Conti, vice president of sales.
Fulfillment is perhaps not a term familiar to most people.
It amounts to processing orders, mailing out renewal subscriptions and other related work for such magazines.
It also represents the bulk of the work load for the company.
But that’s not all this business located on the third floor of Water Tower Square does.
The business also prepares notices for local tax offices, prints up bills and renewal notices, and does mailings for local car dealerships and local educational institutions such as Lycoming College.
The company employs 52 full-time and about 15 part-time people.
“We are a growing company,” said Conti. “Our company is just growing by leaps and bounds.”
Company president Debra Schulle feels the business is well-positioned for expansion.
Small publishers, she noted, are well served by companies that can do much of the work needed to successfully get out their products.
Schulle smiled and shook her head no when it was suggested that people are increasingly turning away from magazines.
She explained that almost all publishers have web-based content, but need to hold onto many subscribers with print products.
“To be competitive you have to offer print,” she said.
The company’s customer service center is staffed by company personnel who work with clients processing subscriptions and other work.
There’s also the outbound call center where calls are made to customers, reminding them to renew their subscriptions, as well as other related outreach and sales work.
Sixteen people work in this department.
Conti said at a time when so many companies out-source such work overseas, Publishers Service does it right here in Williamsport.
“They are English speaking. They are clear,” he said.
Shallon Blackburn, outbound call center supervisor, said each of the personnel are trained, but not limited to a particular script as are telemarketers for many companies.
All employees earn a base salary as well as commissions.
Over in the letter shop is where the various mailings are printed.
The closing of the Grit Publishing Co. some 20 years ago led the way to Publishers Service Associates.
At the time, Mark Hintz, a former Grit circulation employee, hired a number of out-of-work Grit personnel and started up the company, initially as a fulfillment enterprise.
Initially, there were just a handful of clients when the company began its operations out of the Penn Tower building in downtown Williamsport.
Over the years the operations expanded with bureaus in other communities including in Virginia.
Hintz continues to serve as CEO of the company.