2011 Hall of Fame : Mike Panaggio – An Entrepreneur at Heart

Be it for business or pleasure, Mike Panaggio is a road warrior. Here, he pauses to relax in Seatle. (Double click photo to enlarge.)

Mike Panaggio, his daughter April (center) and one of her friends take in the majestic sites of Alaska.

Panaggio in a primitive forest.

Still, its bread-and-butter offering, historically, has linked to direct mail and now incorporates integrated marketing, crossing all levels of media to deliver the client’s message efficiently and effectively. He readily admits that his company does far less printing than it used to, and virtually all of it is now digital output. Sure, printing is still part of the mix, but times are changing—and Panaggio has developed tracking technology that bears this out.

He picked up his intensity and appreciation for—and the execution of—a quality game plan from his father, a man who coached high school and collegiate sports for 50 years. Panaggio actually spurned an opportunity to play hoops for UMass in order to play at SUNY-Brockport, where his father was the men’s basketball coach. Mike’s brother, Dan, also played for SUNY-Brockport, and the Panaggio trio have the distinction of each holding the men’s scoring record.

“I run my company the same way (as a team): we recruit, find great talent and practice hard,” Panaggio notes. “I like to hire athletes and musicians; they seem to be tuned in to hard work and creativity. You’re not going to win without talent, and when you add in the right leadership, it’s a game changer.”

Panaggio considered following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a basketball coach, but he wanted a more secure financial future and was fascinated by the brokerage world. After graduating, he started investing in stocks and commodities, and promptly took a bath.

“I got murdered in the market, but I thought, ‘Boy, if you can lose this much money, then you can make some money, too,’ ” he recalls.

Stints with Merrill Lynch and Prudential-Bache saw Panaggio follow through on his money-making conclusion, but the entrepreneurial side beckoned for him to step out of the comfort zone again and try something new. Some clients had begun making real estate investments in Florida as timeshare opportunities began to sprout, and Panaggio came to their rescue in 1982 from a marketing standpoint. With direct mail and premium incentives leading the way, DME was born two years later.

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