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April 2006 BY MARK SMITH
Technology Editor
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IT’S HARD not to think that elements of the DME strategy sound like clichés—customer focused, team approach, people are its biggest asset, and so on. There’s no doubting the results, though. The organization has grown from a small traditional print/direct mail shop (Direct Mail Express started in 1982 with seven employees) into a direct marketing powerhouse with more than $100 million in annual sales and 650 team members.

Management definitely walks its talk. Focusing on customers’ needs, for example, led DME to install three Xerox iGen3 digital color production presses in 2004 and add a fourth in 2005. It also has taken the company in very different directions, with a large (72-seat) inbound/outbound call center operation, state-of-the-art video studio and Web operations center among the more than 20 departments situated on an 11-acre campus in Daytona Beach, FL.

A full-size gym complete with personal trainers on staff and an on-site hair salon are just two of the perks the company offers associates as part of a commitment to their overall well-being.

Mike Panaggio is the visionary and driving force that is enabling the company and its employees to realize their potential.

“I attended college as a phys ed major, and my dad was a basketball coach, so I had a lot of experience playing basketball and being coached,” Panaggio recounts. “I’ve applied a lot of that experience to business. This is basically Team DME. We don’t get all hokey about it, but the fact is there are certain fundamentals used in managing an organization that are the same skills I learned as a player and coach’s son.”

Despite its size, DME has what its CEO describes as a small, select group of clients. They tend to be large and well-known companies, though, the likes of Southeast Toyota, AutoNation and Microsoft.

“We maintain a select group of customers because it takes market intelligence and extensive resources to really satisfy the needs of those companies,” Panaggio explains. “We work with a customer in developing a personalized marketing strategy, and that’s when we know we’re more than a vendor. If a customer doesn’t let us in at the strategy stage—just wants us to print for them—we know that account is not going to be long lived.”

In one case, the close ties DME had with a customer (Sales Systems) proved so beneficial to both firms that their respective managements decided to formalize the relationship. DME Sales Systems, in Orlando, is now a 50/50 partnership headed by Larry Oliphant, who transitioned into being president and CEO of the new organization along with having a 50 percent ownership stake.

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