Rewarding risk Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009
Business Services

Peter Schmitt was mentored by risk-takers, and growing up, he watched both his father and grandfather run their own businesses.

He remembers his dad sitting around for months talking about new creative engineering processes. The enthusiasm he witnessed — and the tangible results it created — inspired him to seek his own success in call centers.

Schmitt took the reins of Dialogue Marketing in 1998 with seed money from private equity. With help from the same investor group, he acquired a second company, which would serve as an incubator for the collection of Dialogue companies to come.

But the events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed his course. The New York Blood Center, one of two key clients serviced through Schmitt’s Donor Dialogue, immediately went from receiving 400 to 16,000 calls a day. Without financial support from the client, Schmitt shut down his other operations to shift his resources — and additional expenses — to this growing need.

At the same time, new telemarketing legislation deemed his current business model no longer viable and demanded changes, giving him 120 days to transition from outbound calling to inbound. But Schmitt’s disciplined approach to risk-taking positioned his companies to weather the storm. He developed a plan, doing his homework to understand and define the value he seeks. His goal is to create self-sustaining organizations that reward and empower, and he achieves it by measuring and promoting performance with transparency.

Dialogue Marketing’s success has also been noticed. In March 2007, PSCU Financial Services announced that it had combined services with the company. Recognizing Schmitt’s leadership, it asked him to stay on board as president for three years to ensure a smooth transition and continued growth, as he plans to add 400 employees this year across the companies.

How to reach: Dialogue Marketing, (800) 205-2663 or