Michelle Cohen and Stuart Paskow
Laguna Niguel, CA
Michelle Cohen and Stuart Paskow started Mitch-Stuart, Inc. in 1993 and incorporated in 1994. Their company specializes in innovative, customized travel programs that nonprofit organizations use as fundraising tools and businesses use as employee incentives.
Mitch-Stuart Inc. successfully rode out economic downturns and rough periods in the travel industry, achieving milestones such as raising over $1 billion for thousands of charities. Still, in early 2013 Paskow and Cohen were looking for a way to grow their 20-year-old company even more, and diversify their target market.
SCORE Mentor Alvin Roselin helped Paskow and Cohen get comfortable with social media as a vehicle to reach potential B2B clients. “He helped us expand our social media presence in the B2B market, and strike a balance in our blogs and posts between the nonprofit and B2B markets ,” says Paskow. “He even guided us in producing some YouTube videos for the B2B market.”
“Alvin also showed us how to grow our SEO through social media, our blogs and our messaging,” says Cohen. “At Alvin’s suggestion, we started using more SEO friendly terms to help us cast a broader net.” Prior to SCORE, Mitch-Stuart had always used keywords targeting the nonprofit market, such as “nonprofit fund-raising,” and its blogs and tweets had been focused on that market as well market. “Now our SEO and social media is targeted more generally to both markets,” Paskow says.
Once leads come in to the website, Roselin showed the partners how to capture their information and use Google analytics to figure out which SEO tactics work and which don’t. “People register on our site to get pricing information and now we’re beginning to know exactly where they are coming from even, if they don’t tell us,” says Cohen.
“The B2B market is still new to us and we’re learning every day, but we’re very pleased with the progress we’ve had so far,” says Paskow. “In the last six months, our revenue is up 15 percent.” From 90 percent nonprofit and 10 percent B2B clients when they began working with SCORE, Paskow and Cohen are now at a 70-30 balance and hope to reach 60-40.
Along the way, they’ll continue to rely on SCORE. “Alvin’s in New York, but we speak to our mentor once a month on the phone. It’s an ongoing conversation—we’re constantly asking him questions and picking his brain, and every time we talk to him we come away with new information or a new idea,” Paskow says. “We’re very grateful that we found our mentor, and we’re grateful to SCORE for pointing us in the direction we’re going in.”
Launched in 1991 from founder Joel Goldberg’s spare bedroom, today Aurico Reports, Inc., provides a comprehensive array of in-depth background screening, drug testing, assessment tools and related resources that help companies find and retain high-quality employees. By partnering with an organization’s Human Resources department, they increase their clients’ efficiency, lower recruitment costs and improve organizational performance.
In 2009, Aurico had grown to a thriving regional background screening company. “We had an excellent product, management team and employee base, and wanted to scale the business,” says Ben Goldberg, Joel’s son and Aurico’s president. “We looked to SCORE to help us analyze the market and put together a business plan and a marketing plan that would position Aurico for exponential growth.”
SCORE mentors Leo Dietlin, Don Crossett, Jerry Hicks and Jay Rowell helped Aurico identify a succession strategy, put together financial plans and business plans, select a data center and rebrand to reposition the business from a regional to a national player.
“SCORE helped us put together a business plan and set 30-day, 90-day, one-year and five-year goals,” Ben says. “By putting those planning pieces in place, we’re able to hold ourselves accountable to make sure that we have measured progress toward those goals.
“Having SCORE’s seasoned experience to draw from has been extremely valuable,” Ben adds. “For example, when we started working with SCORE, we had IT people on staff, but none of them had ever identified, selected and transitioned into a high-end data center. SCORE brought in a former CIO of a big IT company [who] had a lot of good tools for us. We run a call center; SCORE connected us with an executive who’d been part of a call center and gave us feedback.”
Promoting from within and providing continuous employee development is part of Aurico’s culture. “SCORE helped us evaluate up-and-coming employees that we could train, develop and mentor to become members of the management team,” says Ben.
In 2011, Aurico made the Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing privately held small businesses, and has continued to climb higher on the list every year since. The company has received multiple awards and honors, including the 2014 Torch Award from the Better Business Bureau for business ethics and the 2012 Outstanding Veteran-Owned Small Business Award from SCORE, and was ranked in the top five best background screening companies in the nation by HRO Today magazine.
Now NAPBS accredited and ISO 9001:2008 certified, Aurico has 110 employees and 3,500 clients nationwide, with a 97 percent client retention rate. As Aurico tackles its next major goal—international expansion—Ben continues to use SCORE as a sounding board. “SCORE is a great tool for me to sit down with, talk about what I’m running into and what they can do to help.”
Mass Mutual is not associated with, and does not endorse, the business featured.