LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Fame, they say, is fleeting. But News About You promises to help capture the moment for years to come.
The 3-year-old Louisville, Ky., company mounts laudatory business articles on hardwood plaques, marketing them as showpiece displays for the organizations recognized.
News About You sells an average of 45 plaques a day, said Louis Pomerance, founder and president.
“We’d like to get up to at least 200, 250 plaques a day” as the company expands its sales force, he said.
In the last year and a half, the staff has grown to 15, up from five, and continues to expand, he said. The head count should hit at least 20 before the year is out.
With a product that many companies welcome, no high-pressure marketing tactics are needed, said Pomerance, 45.
“It’s not a real tough sale,” he said. “I’m going to be calling people that just had an article written about them. They’re still on some kind of a high. Hopefully, they have enough ego they want to buy it, and the price is certainly within most people’s reach.”
The birch plaques cost $159 for a small, $169 for a medium and $239 for a large. Each is custom-made to fit the article.
News About You isn’t Pomerance’s first startup. He moved to Louisville from Columbus, Ga., in 1990 to begin a franchise for CheckCare, a service that offers check verification, guarantee and recovery programs for merchants.
In 2002, Pomerance bought the parent CheckCare company and moved its headquarters to Louisville. At the time, he received a call from a recognition-plaque company that had spotted an article about the CheckCare purchase. Pomerance ordered a plaque and liked it.
“And I thought, that’s kind of a clever business when you think about how many thousands of articles must be written every day all around the country in all the various publications.”
“I kind of parked that in the back of my head and didn’t really do anything with it for a couple of years,” he said.
But worries about the future of the CheckCare business, at a time when people were turning away from paper checks in favor of debit and credit cards, led the entrepreneur to start looking for other business opportunities.
“I decided to get into the recognition-plaque business,” he said.
Today, News About You operates in 50 states, with two primary competitors – one based in Florida and the other in Connecticut.
But with “thousands and thousands of publications coming out every day with articles in them, there’s more than enough to go around,” he said.
Union Oyster House, a landmark Boston restaurant, has bought six plaques from News About You, said Jean Hayes, the historic eatery’s executive assistant.
“They’re wonderful,” Hayes said.
A big part of the News About You operation is scouring through thousands of newspapers, magazines and trade publications that come daily to its office.
Everyone at the company stops to join in a massive search-and-sort operation, emptying the bins and arranging the publications by date.
Article researchers – most working from their homes – scour through the publications looking for stories that might tempt businesses to buy a plaque. Leads are forwarded to a sales staff, which contacts the companies and offers to create a plaque for a 10-day free evaluation.
The plaques are produced by another company outside Kentucky, Pomerance said. The article is pressed into the wood, then it’s laminated and sealed to prevent the paper from yellowing with age.
News About You is on track for steady growth, he believes.
“There’s always going to be publications. There’s always going to be articles about people,” Pomerance said.