- change ups
The business model provides Vincent the opportunity to focus most of her time and energy on working with clients, leaving many of the day-to-day functions of the business to outside help. Outsourcing much of the work, including creative talent such as writers, photographers, graphic artists and illustrators, also enables Vincent to operate The Vincent Group from a home office that she shares with a co-worker, Heather Knight, as well as strike a balance between her work and career and raising her two young daughters.
“It’s our business model to keep things light around here,” said Vincent, who founded The Vincent Group 10 years ago after moving to Grand Haven in the late 1980s with her now former husband. “It doesn’t pull our efforts away in 20 different directions. You do what you do best and let the professionals do the other things.”
The firm specializes in handling corporate communications — everything from company newsletters to an assortment of promotional and marketing materials and sales tools — for small to medium-sized manufacturers. She counts among her clients office furniture-maker Trendway Corp. in Holland and Grand Haven-based automotive supplier Eagle Ottawa Leather Co.
A California native who graduated high school in Ann Arbor, Vincent originally planned to pursue a career in international business and attend graduate school after she earned her degree in foreign languages from Western Michigan University in 1981. Marriage changed those plans shortly after graduating college, as she headed off to Germany with her husband, who was in the U.S. Army.
In Germany, Vincent taught U.S. soldiers and their children at American military bases. Returning to the U.S. three years later, they settled in Washington, D.C, where Vincent took work as an account representative for an advertising agency.
At the time, in the mid-1980s, personal computers and desktop publishing software were beginning to transform the industry. Vincent was quick to embrace the new technology, even working to teach artists at the ad firm where she worked how to use it.
Four years after moving to D.C., the couple moved to Grand Haven, where her husband had grown up and Vincent’s family often visited each summer for vacation. She went to work at the former public relations firm Markey & Associates in Grand Rapids as public relations director.
By 1991, Vincent began to want something different than what a large PR firm offered.
When she took time off for maternity leave, Vincent received calls from several clients who wanted to work directly with her. At the same time the firm was beginning to cut back in the wake of the 1991 recession.
The combination led to a deal — Vincent left her position, continuing to work on a free-lance basis, and took with her two small clients that formed the initial customer base of her own company.
“For them, they were small clients. For me, they were great for starting my business,” she said.
In nurturing the company for a decade, Vincent has stuck with her view that big is not always better, particularly when it comes to building an internal structure to manage. While a “real office” is a goal for the future, she plans to maintain a structure that’s lean and keeps her working closely with clients, while tapping the expertise of free-lance creative talent and outside business services.“The world is our resource. We can pull together whatever we need that is out there,” she said. “My goal is to not just make a million dollars, but to have a career I’m proud of.