Even though economic opportunities continue to transform Maine, the state’s Yankee roots still run deep. The combination of wit and grit that allowed the first farmers and foresters to tame the northern frontier lives on in companies with an eye for opportunities and the determination to realize their potential. A recent conversation with Janice Rogers of Diversified Communications (DC) revealed just how far that spirit has taken the Portland-based company over the past 67 years. As VP of Human Resources, Rogers knows better than anyone about the human qualities that have been responsible for DC’s corporate growth.
The company’s name is the first clue to the ability to embrace change that is critical for almost any business to survive. A quick look at the kind of milestones DC has hit since its inception is another. Diversified Communications began when Maine’s former governor, Horace Hildreth, bought the rights to the state’s first radio station in 1949. The company took its initial step in diversifying communications with its launch of Maine’s first TV station four years later. But DC’s acquisition of the Fish Expo in 1970 was a sign of the more lateral expansion that would eventually lead to a product portfolio that serves 15 industries in 12 countries today.
The company’s stated mission is a good place to start when trying to understand what unites the conferences, trade shows, e-media sites, and TV stations that DC owns and operates. All have been acquired and developed to “connect, educate, and strengthen” business communities. Rogers provides a peek at two examples that show how DC’s innovative spirit has guided some of the direct and indirect leaps the company has taken in order to realize that ambitious goal.
“The success of our Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York City allowed us to expand the brand in other regions,” she notes. “The annual flagship event was supplemented with a new conference last year, held in Toronto in October.” Such a geographic shift toward success is easier to trace than DC’s entry into the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry. The story of that move reflects a corporate entrepreneurial instinct that is more sophisticated than the ability to simply replicate a successful model in a new market.
“Our competency in one industry led to our growth in another,” explains Rogers. “We acquired and ran events in the 3D technology space, and heard from many of our customers that there was a growing need and desire for an event that provided education to the commercial UAV industry. We were able to launch a very popular event in that space last October and will continue to build upon that success in years to come.”
That virtuous cycle of acquiring the knowledge needed to meet a customer’s needs, and then transferring that new learning to others, has been a key to DC’s success. But though that transformation requires the courage to embrace new ideas and risks, the company doesn’t leap before taking a good long look at where it’s headed—and, with whom.
“At Diversified, we have a unique approach to how we serve both our customers and each other,” says Rogers. “Before we choose partners for a new event, division, or industry, we make sure the cultural fit between their corporation and ours is a good one. We’re in this business for the long haul, and we want to make sure the people we’ll be working with are too.”
When asked about the kind of employee who’d make a good fit for DC, Rogers mentions a passion for challenge and for the diversity that stars in the company’s name. “Our events and products support a variety of industries and customers,” she says. “We look for people who are drawn to do something different. Every day here can present the kind of unique learning and challenges that make those kind of people thrive.”
The Maine lifestyle can also be a big plus for those prospective employees. “It’s always fun to educate people about our hometown,” says Rogers. “Portland’s status as a small town with big-city cultural opportunities is one obvious advantage. Having the riches of the natural world right outside our door is another. Once we get a job candidate up here, it’s usually love at first sight.”