Why Choose Mspark
Learn more about how we help businesses like yours succeed.
Find out about career opportunities and what it’s like to be a part of the Mspark family.
Meet the Mspark leadership team.
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1988 – 1990
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.
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.
Acquisition, Transition, and Growth
We transitioned to new leadership with outstanding results. With Steve Mitzel at the helm, we continued to grow and reach new heights in customer and employee satisfaction. We made 6 acquisitions starting in November 2016 with Market Select, Stone Creek Media, Valu-Direct, Preferred Mail Advertising, National Mail-It, and Ad-Venture Magazine. We expanded our reach to 116 million U.S. households, and continue to look for ways to grow our reach to better serve our clients. We were recognized locally in 2018, when 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.
Adapt, Survive, and Thrive
The onset of the pandemic in 2020 brought the biggest challenges we’ve ever experienced, much like other businesses across the nation and the world. We are proud and thankful for our team that pulled together, both in our production plants and our corporate office, as well as our sales teams across the country, to adapt and adjust and not only survive, but thrive as we helped our clients thrive.
Despite the challenges of 2020, we launched a trigger-based marketing program with Quick Response to help our clients reach their target audience swiftly. In 2021, we launched Boost, our integrated advertising solution that combines direct mail campaigns with addressable geofencing digital ads. This amplifies our clients’ results by reaching the same homes with both print and digital ads.