Mspark (the artist formerly known as MailSouth)
Mspark was founded in 1988 and we have been growing and expanding our reach ever since. From our beginnings with a handful of employees, to serving over 27 million customers in rural America, we have stayed true to the idea that we are more than a shared direct mail company. We strive to be a valued partner for our customers, and take joy in helping their business grow. Speaking of our customers, we owe you guys a huge thank you. Without you, we would not be where we are today, and we hope you continue to grow with us. Tesing
Mspark (the artist formerly known as MailSouth)
Mspark was founded in 1988 and we have been growing and expanding our reach ever since. From our beginnings with a handful of employees, to serving over 27 million customers in rural America, we have stayed true to the idea that we are more than a shared direct mail company. We strive to be a valued partner for our customers, and take joy in helping their business grow. Speaking of our customers, we owe you guys a huge thank you. Without you, we would not be where we are today, and we hope you continue to grow with us.
Bo Howard had an idea. He wanted to help people in rural communities get access to the same types of valuable offers and discounts on products and services that people in more urban areas of the country were already receiving. He described the first product we sold as a “Shoppers Guide” and it was anywhere from 12 – 24 pages in a newsprint format.
There was not a lot of direct mail being circulated at this time, and we were learning something new every day. In fact, for the first two years, all of our packages were put together by hand instead of using an insertion machine.
It’s About Doing the Right Thing
Bo was a big believer in doing right by our customers. He would say, “If your customer is unhappy, do what it takes to make them happy.” One of his goals was to make the package the best it could be. He realized that it needed to be more flexible in order to better meet the needs of our customers. That’s when we made the move to using higher quality paper, and a smaller wrapper to contain individual inserts. The change from the newsprint format allowed us to expand our product offerings and produce a higher quality product.
Apple? What Kind of Name is That?
Up until this period in our history, everything was done by hand. All orders were handwritten, and ad designs were prepared for printing by combining and pasting various sections together. Then came the computers, and we took computer classes to learn how to use them. We also formed our first production department with 24-pocket insertion machine to build the packages.
This was also when we realized that our sales people needed help entering orders, and keeping our customers informed and up to date on the status of their ads. Our Account Services department was formed with 1 person taking on the role.
More Households, More Innovation
During this period, we went from reaching 3 million to 5 million households. It was a time of explosive growth and we needed a better way to organize and track all of the orders than using an Excel spreadsheet. With much planning, hard work, and probably a little cursing the MAESTRO order system came into being. We created our own system that allowed Account Services to enter and track the orders. This was a huge step forward from the previous handwritten, 7-page carbon copy (1 copy for each department) system that was in place. One question we get a lot is what the heck does the name MAESTRO mean? It stands for MailSouths Automated Entry System for Tracking and Receiving Orders. Pretty straightforward, right?
Focusing on Our Customers
As we continued to grow (now at 7 million households), our Account Services team needed to expand in order to keep up with our customer needs. We also started building a team of data analysts who could help make recommendations on where, when, and what to mail to achieve the best possible return on advertising investment for our customers.
Here We Grow Again
We took a huge leap during this time period. It seemed like overnight we went from a small company to a much larger organization. Everything grew during this time period. We now served 15 million households and all areas of the company had to expand to meet the need.
It’s All About the Team
Teamwork became a focus for the company. Leadership instilled a culture where everyone was made to feel like they were a part of something bigger than themselves. This gave people the freedom to ask for help from their coworkers as well as give everyone a sense of pride in the final product we created for our customers.
The idea of working as a well-oiled machine came in handy because we expanded again during this period to now serving 22 million households. Our mindset was it’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s about delivering the best product possible for our customers.
Keeping Up the Pace
The culture of teamwork created was pivotal in keeping up with the continuing changes in our industry and with technology. The number of direct mail pieces we created and processed at our facilities reached new heights. This required us to move at a much faster pace in order to continue to provide best experience possible for our customers.
Looking Towards the Future
We have transitioned to new leadership and the results have been outstanding. With Steve Mitzel at the helm, we continue to grow and reach new heights in customer and employee satisfaction. We have made 6 acquisitions since November 2016 including Market Select, Stone Creek Media, Valu-Direct, Preferred Mail Advertising, National Mail-It, and Ad-Venture Magazine. We have expanded our reach to 27.8 million households in rural America, and continue to look for ways to grow our reach to better serve our clients. We have also received local recognition in recent years. In 2018, Steve Mitzel was named Top CEO for the 100 to 250 employee category by the Birmingham Business Journal. Mspark finished in the top 10 of the Birmingham Business Journal’s Best Places to Work in both 2017 & 2018.