Names and Numbers, based in Pittsburg, is known as a happy place to work, but there was an extra reason for employees to celebrate recently.
The company, which publishes 67 directories in the midwest and northwest areas of the United States, was recognized as this year’s Gold Book Publisher of the Year at the Gold Book Awards, held at the Association of Directory Publishers 2013 Annual Convention and Partners Trade Show in St. Augustine, Fla.
“We’ve tried to achieve that award for more than 20 years, and have gotten close to it a couple of years,” said Ken Brock, Names and Numbers president/CEO. “This is the first time we’ve achieved it.”
He explained that Names and Numbers belongs to the Association of Directory Publishers, a group of companies that, like the Pittsburg company, publish telephone books all over the country.
“These are independent publishers,” Brock added. “That is, none of us are connected with a utility.”
He served on the ADP board of directors for 13 years and was chairman for two years, but has now retired from it. Todd McKnight, Names and Numbers chief operating officer, now sits on the board.
Judging for the Gold Book Award is done by a panel of publishers and another panel of independent and objective judges.
“We compete on 15 or 16 different levels,” Brock said. “In this case, we won 11 awards in different categories.”
These include Excellence in Print Directories 25,000 and Under (Estes Park, Colo.), third place; Excellence in Print Directories 50,001 to 100,000 (Aspen, Colo., Directory), second place; Excellence in Print Directories 200,000 and Over (Lubbock, Texas), second place; Excellence in Cover Design and Art - Print (Joplin), second place; Excellence in Directories Ad Design and Art (Fresh Eats), first place; Excellence in Marketing Direct Mail (Sun Valley), third place; Excellence in Marketing Magazine (Northwest Arkansas), second place; Excellence in Environmental Initiatives (Recycled), second place; and Excellence in Marketing Use of Power of Yellow, first place.
All this excellence added up to Gold Book Publisher of the Year.
Page 2 of 2 - Brock said that the Power of Yellow is a new marketing campaign beginning in ADP which emphasizes the advertising power a yellow pages product can have for an advertiser, based on extensive market research.
“Seventy-six percent of adult Americans used the yellow pages last year, and 85 percent of yellow page users make a purchase,” Brock said. “Last year, $6 out of every $10 spent at local businesses comes from a yellow page search.”
While Names and Numbers does provide mobile and online local search information, Brock said that the power of print remains strong.
“Print telephone books were used 10 percent in 2012 than in the year before,” Brock said. “The reason is that the baby boomers are getting ready to retire and using the yellow pages more. They’re having more life events when they want products from the yellow pages.”
When he and the Names and Numbers executive team returned from St. Augustine with the Gold Publisher Award, a rally was held at the company headquarters for the employees.
“We shared this accomplishment with them, and had a little celebration because this would not have happened without them,” said Cindy Bedene, Brock’s assistant.
Brock moved from Fort Scott to Pittsburg in 1966 after completing military service as a Kansas Guardsman in a unit based in Fort Scott. Brock worked several years in yellow page sales for the Brock Publishing Co., which was owned by his father, the late George Brock.
“He sold his company in 1973, and I started my own company, Names and Numbers, in 1974, out of my garage,” Brock said. “Our next celebration will be our 40th anniversary.”
Though the thriving and far-flung business requires the president/CEO to travel throughout the nation, it continues to be based in Pittsburg.
“This is home,” Brock said.