In Business : Global company finds advantages in West Tisbury home base
Photo courtesy of David Stein
Rural West Tisbury is home to the corporate headquarters of a global company. Thanks in part to international flights, social media, and the sales expertise of the company's founder and CEO, David Stein, ES Research Group, Inc. (ESR) operates in more than 20 different countries around the world.
The company offers corporate consulting services that connect sales training buyers with sales training providers. ESR has worked with companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 10 members.
Mr. Stein, along with his wife, Vivian Stein, vacationed on Martha's Vineyard for 20 years before they built a vacation home on the Island in 1999. They moved to the Vineyard permanently in 2006, the same year ESR was founded.
"I had a first career as a professional trumpet player," Mr. Stein said, who originally hails from the Bronx. "I came out of college with a degree in music. I taught for a while, played in the studios in New York. In 1975, I realized I was never going to be a great trumpet player. I was a good trumpet player, but I decided I would try my hand at another career. I got involved in computer software. I started programming computers, and eventually, I wound up in sales, marketing, general management, international business development, and then, after a long period of time, sales consulting and sales training."
Mr. and Mrs. Stein are ESR's only two full-time employees. The company also has analysts and consultants who are hired as contractors based on individual projects.
"If I had to hire local employees, there might be a problem with finding the right talent," said Mr. Stein, "but being virtual, I have the ability to hire the best people, literally anywhere. We have people working for us who live in Florida, Minnesota, Syracuse, New York, Chicago, and other places, and they're connected to us virtually. Some of these folks I could literally not afford to hire as full-time employees, because they are so experienced and so knowledgeable, but it works out well for us to bring them on board for special projects."
Mr. Stein said that living on Martha's Vineyard is more of a personal, lifestyle choice for him, but it does have an advantage in regards to his business.
"There is an aura about Martha's Vineyard, as many people know, and people who have been there once or not at all, think of it as a playground for the stars," he said. "When I meet people and mention to them where I live, it's something that they never forget. Then, when I speak to them at some point in the future, they say 'oh yeah, you're the one who lives on Martha's Vineyard.' They might forget me otherwise. There's no question people remember Dave Stein because he lives on Martha's Vineyard."
The biggest challenge of running his business from Martha's Vineyard, Mr. Stein said, is traveling.
"If you live in a major city like Boston or New York, you can go to somewhere like Chicago or Florida for the day. On Martha's Vineyard, instead of no nights away, it's two nights, and I've spent a lot of time at Logan Airport because I missed the last Cape Air flight or I missed the last ferry. It's a small price to pay, though, to live in such a beautiful place."
Many clients of ESR learned about the company because of Mr. Stein's strong presence in social media and his speaking engagements at sales conferences. His Twitter page is updated frequently and has over 2,000 followers, while his Linkedin account has 500 contacts comprised of leaders in the sales industry. He has been a speaker in countries such as Ireland, Turkey, Thailand, and the United States.
It's clear after speaking to him for a bit that Mr. Stein enjoys working from Martha's Vineyard, even if it has added extra challenges to running his business. Living on the Vineyard has also brought him full-circle to his original career as a trumpet player .
"I literally didn't pick up the instrument for 32 years," he said. "In 2007, my family decided it was time for me to come back and start playing again, so they gave me a present for my birthday, a flugelhorn, which is a cousin of the trumpet."
After a few weeks of practice, he realized he had retained some of his old skills. He has since become Third Trumpet in the Vineyard Haven Band, which holds concerts in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven in the summer. The band plays a mix of Americana, John Phillip Sousa Marches, and excerpts from Broadway shows. In the peak of the summer, there can be as many as 40 or 50 musicians who participate.
Mr. Stein's long-term goal for ESR is the continued growth of the company. "I'd like to build this company to the point where it could be acquired as an opportunity for a larger company to benefit from all of the hard work, insight, and success that we've had," he said.