PIONEERS IN ADVERTISING
& MAGAZINE RESEARCH
The founding of Readex Research takes us back to 1945, when advertising agency executive, Bob Pendergast set out to answer a question his magazine and newspaper clients were asking him, “What kind of advertising works best?” To get a sense for which ads were, indeed, doing the best job at developing what he called “reader interest,” he created a survey system using the mail survey.
Readers were sent a package that included a duplicate copy of the magazine or newspaper, a small red marking pencil, instruction letter, and reply envelope. They were asked to look at each item in the publication and draw a line through everything they “found of interest.” When done with the survey, the publication was returned for processing. Pendergast perfected his system over a two-year period and opened Readex in October of 1947.
Early clientele included agricultural publications, some newspapers, and consumer magazines. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that Readex started to work with more traditional business-to-business publications. Revenues were growing and so was the number of employees. From the company’s inception in 1947, all operations were in the Pendergast’s home in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul. Then, in 1961 the company moved to a new location at 140 Quail Street in Mahtomedi. Unfortunately, Bob died not long after the move but his wife, Lenore, continued to run the business.
New Ad Recall Research Methods
In 1967 the company launched a new product developed by Richard Rogers, Sr., a long time executive with Readex. It was called the Red Sticker™ study and added recall-based measures to the Reader Interest score. Over the next few years, several other ad study programs were added to give customers a broader array of choices.
Changes, Expansion, and New Offerings
In 1975 Mrs. Pendergast sold the firm to John Butterfield, past President of Donaldson’s Department store. He initiated a number of major changes, starting with upgrading report graphics, redesigning the original logo, and adding computerized systems to process survey returns. A few years later he began adding staff, hiring Richard Rogers, Jr. in 1980 as a project director, now our Research Director, and Jack Semler in 1982 as the sales manager.
During the mid-1980’s the business began to grow rapidly as more clients were brought in and more services were offered. We began offering custom research services as part of our portfolio (1984), kicking-off with reader profile studies. From there we added many other types of distinctive, custom surveys, including our expansion into custom studies for association executives with member satisfaction studies and wage and benefit studies.
In 1991, Mr. Semler purchased the business and the growth continued. In 1995 we moved from our home in Mahtomedi of 34 years to a brand new facility in Stillwater, Minnesota. Shortly thereafter Readex started to get the feeling that this new thing called the Internet might be big, so we began working on developing online study capabilities. Today, online projects represent a significant portion of our annual project count.
Where Readex is Going
The temptation is to spread in different directions but Readex is committed to staying focused on the key markets and customers we serve. Our brand recognition in media and publishing as well as the association world is excellent. At the same time, the support and services we provide to those needing a mail/paper survey are first rate. Our goal is to go deeper and deeper into these markets, capturing more customers while constantly monitoring our service delivery. That’s not to say we won’t grow new, carefully-selected opportunities such as our Salary and Benefit Survey capability. At the end of the day, it comes down to taking great care of customers, making sure we design great surveys while helping customers use results. From our view, this is what it’s all about.