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Home Grown: Interactive Media Publishing

Owners: Linda Nichols and Grant Plowman Ages: 39 and 60 Address: 111 W. First St., Phoenix Phone number: 535-5552 Number of employees: 6, plus freelancers e-mail: grant@imediapub.com Web site: imediapub.comEditor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

We are a publisher of both educational and other types of books, videos, DVDs and CD-ROMS, combining video with interactive animations and testing for distance-learning students. We also develop, produce and distribute corporate communication items. We also work with independent authors. We started in 1995.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley?

We moved here from Myrtle Point about five years ago. We had clients in this area and after we moved here we landed several other clients.

What inspired you to go into this line of work?

Our background is in automation design for machines and industry. We had moved to Myrtle Point from the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1990s. We were writing a book for McGraw Hill about computer-assisted design. We discovered teachers wanted to incorporate our book as a textbook for classes. They then asked us to do additional things to enhance it. We provided materials to North Bend High School when they put in their technology center. After we began working for one school, we had others contact us, including Oregon Health Sciences University. Now, Oregon State University and Southern Oregon University are also among our customers and we do training materials for Harry & David Holdings. Once we moved to the Rogue Valley we developed not only the CDs and videos but also books. The objective is to create a comprehensive learning environment for distance-learning students.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?

I think we would've moved sooner to a more metropolitan area, such as this, because the business opportunities are stronger as are the opportunities for communication with other companies. It's also easier to fly from here.

What's the toughest business decision you've made?

I think the toughest ones are the capital equipment decisions. Timing is important, because you don't want to make purchases too soon or too late. If you purchase equipment before you're ready, it means you're not going to have cash flow to comfortably pay off that investment. Purchasing too late means farming out work that you could more cost-effectively do in-house and increase your profit margin.

Who are your competitors?

In this area we really don't have a lot of competition. On the national level, the textbook manufacturers and textbook publishers. Advertising agencies in this area compete with us in one sector of the business. One of the things we find is that our business bridges between publishing and corporate communications. For many companies there is a natural synergism in what they're doing from marketing and training perspectives, especially in the area of technology products.

How do you define success for your business?

We define it as meeting our growth targets both in income and in meeting the educational needs of the students we serve. What we're pushing toward is providing students with effective learning environments. There are certain topics that have a social relevance and it's important from our perspective that they can learn that from a distance. That's particularly true in a lot of rural areas in Oregon where students would not have the opportunity to complete their education, and particularly true for OHSU students.

What are your goals?

We have plans for adding to our building. We have a little less than 6,000 square feet and we're looking to increase that to over 12,000 square feet over the next two years. Our objective is to grow 17 percent to 23 percent per annum over the next four years.

What training or education did you need?

The technology we're involved in creates a constant learning curve. We maintain a skill log. Every time an employee learns something new about a technology or process, he or she will record it in the skill log that will make it available to other employees. When we were in the California area we worked with Ford Aerospace as an independent consultant. We did work with Hughes Aircraft and Royal Norwegian Navy and companies in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Identify a company or business opportunity that is of such great interest to you that it would almost be a hobby, so that you can envision pursuing it even without the profit incentive. Next, build a business plan, do your best estimate on how much capital and time is required and either double or triple capital and time requirements in order to reach your objectives.

If you're convinced of your success, ignore all other suggestions. I've known people who have been successful after being discouraged by others from pursuing it because they had the tenacity to succeed.

Home Grown: Interactive Media Publishing"business@mailtribune.com

Grant Plowman and Linda Nichols have operated Interactive Media Publishing since 1995. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli