If you drive down Main Street in Genoa, you will find the kinds of businesses you typically find in a small town: bars, restaurants, a doctor’s office, a law firm. But you will also find an establishment that seems out of place. Located across the street from The Bharmacy and adjacent to The Hour Glass Inn is a marketing firm known as Pearson & Pearson.
Places like Pearson & Pearson are not typically supposed to exist in Small Town, Ohio. A hip, refined marketing firm that markets alcoholic products, it’s run by young, savvy professionals. Normally, you’d think to find a place like this somewhere in a major city.
With just five employees, it’s a small company that’s big in stature and demeanor.
Pearson & Pearson, which has been in existence for just over a year, was founded by Brian Pearson. He’s a man with a vision, plain and simple. The 35-year old former Marine, who was born and raised in Genoa, is the embodiment of a true entrepreneur. His unconventional, “outside-the-box” style of thinking and way of doing things is what helps create a business environment where creative and interesting ideas are the norm. That, as well as the passion and hard work put forth by Pearson and his employees.
It all started in 1998 when Pearson, then 23, came up with an idea that led to him creating a product now known as Zippers Gelatin Shots. Pearson started producing the product in his basement, and as demand grew, he moved the operations to a larger production facility. After manufacturing the gelatin shots at the facility for some time, Pearson took hold of the operation and opened BPNC Distillery, Inc. in Toledo. In 2006, the company was moved to Temperance, Mich., where Molly Pearson, Brian’s wife, is currently the vice president. The company has changed its name and is now know as Temperance Distilling, Inc.
Aside from Pearson, the company’s other four employees are Zach Robarge, Kayla Miller, Carly Sievert and Brad McMichael. All are in their mid-20s and come from the Northwest Ohio/Southeast Michigan region.
Robarge graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in Business Administration and Miller earned a degree in Communication, graduating with a 3.8 GPA from the University of Toledo. Sievert graduated from Loyola University in Chicago, majoring in Public Relations, Advertisement & Sport Management and McMichael graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications from UT.
As the comptroller, Robarge oversees the quality of accounting and is responsible for the financial reporting of the company. Miller, who is the director of compliance, is co-regional manager along with Sievert, who is also the director of marketing. As director of compliance, Miller must make sure that the company follows the rules and regulations set forth by the government and Sievert, as director of marketing, is responsible for the creative development and sales promotion of the products. McMichael, a creative, artistic individual, is the company’s web designer/graphic artist and is responsible for the website’s layout.
One of the commonalities among these four is the passion they have for their work. For them, what they do is not merely a job, it’s a career. They believe that what they’re doing has value and meaning.
Part of what makes their job so special is the fact that some of them have experienced life in the corporate world, having previously worked for larger companies. Sievert used to work in downtown Chicago for Nike. When asked by Pearson to come home and work for his company, Sievert jumped at the opportunity to take on this endeavor.
Robarge was in a somewhat similar situation himself. After graduating college, he went to work for an accounting firm. “When I started in the industry, I was working endless hours as a slave to others taxes,” he said.
But since coming to work at Pearson & Pearson, things have changed.
“Now I get to work in an office based around the success of up-and-coming entrepreneurs’ alcohol products.” he said. “Watching others’ profits increase and being able to report to the team the monetary success is a great feeling. Also knowing that I’m able to aid in keeping the machine moving at Pearson & Pearson is an accomplishment in itself.”
Sievert echoes his sentiments.
“Every day is a new day and every day is different. We are able to be creative and solve problems. All of our products are innovative and new to the alcohol industry, (so) it’s easy to feel passionate and take (the) work personally when you are aiding in the brands beginning and continued success,” he said.
The company’s website, www.pearsonandpearson.org (which asks the user if he or she is 21 years of age at the outset), features links discussing the company’s services, which range from consulting to marketing to public relations. It also features, among other things, a state-by-state list of wholesalers, preferred retailers and videos showcasing the company at conventions and trade shows. The company also has Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Besides social networking, trade shows and conventions offer a great way to showcase the company’s products. “We participate in the shows to generate brand exposure and have clients test (the) product,” says Sievert. “The best way to generate sales is to have the customer actually try the product.”
Some of the products the company markets include Cream, an “alcoholic-infused whipped cream” that can be added to drinks or desserts; Thatcher’s, a kind of organic liquor that comes in a variety of flavors; and Adult Chocolate Milk, a product created by a group of adults who “don’t want to grow up.”
The young entrepreneurs agree they enjoy doing things their way – doing things on their own terms.
As McMichael puts it, “My advice to people would be: don’t settle on a career because it seems like the practical path; take the risk, follow your dreams and make your life what you want it to be.”