In the past two years, Phoenix Marketing Solutions has added roughly 80 full-time employees, growing from fewer than 60 staffers to 138.
And in the past five years, the company has gone from $15 million in annual sales to $50 million.
By anyone's standards, those stats put Phoenix, a medical communications company serving the biopharmaceutical industry, well outside the small business category. But when the company started back in 2002, its founders — Tracy Doyle and Angela Fiordilino — were working off one shared laptop in Doyle's kitchen.
The trick to getting from that to where they are now — bursting out of their Warren offices — has been their ability to adapt to the ever-changing health care environment and plan their growth accordingly.
“I don't think it's an inspiration. I think it's really just paying attention and adapting in a way that fulfills customer needs,” said Doyle, the company's president and CEO.
“Rather than stomping our feet and saying, 'No it should be this way,' we followed what the market was doing,” she added. “Growth is really brought on by adapting to market trends.”
Back in 2008, right around the time the recession hit, Phoenix lost several large clients. One went out of business, said Fiordilino, the company's executive vice president and chief operating officer. The others were bought out by other companies that didn't keep Phoenix on for the ride.
So they started to look at what was working for the company and what was weighing it down. Eventually, that led to dissolving one arm of the business and refocusing their efforts in another direction.
“When we tightened the belt and repositioned ourselves, that's when we really started to see growth,” Fiordilino said.
With the Affordable Care Act and its emphasis on transparency in the pharmaceutical industry, Phoenix has found another niche — one that has enabled the addition of 80 new staffers.
“If we win a lot of new contracts, we have to add staff to service those contracts,” Fiordilino explained.
That makes the question of how to grow a little easier for Phoenix since new contracts require more bodies to do the work.
Instead, the hard part for Fiordilino and Doyle comes on the front end, in monitoring government activity in the health care sector, watching for market shifts and keeping their business agile and able to shift along with the industry as a whole.
“It's scary, so, you know, you have to basically feel the fear and do it anyway,” Doyle said. “But if you take risks and you make a mistake, you have to assess it.”
“And you have to remain nimble enough to do that,” she added. “That has really been the secret to what we've been doing here at Phoenix.”
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