Today, August 1, 2017, marks the beginning of the 23rd year of Premier Insights. As I look back over the last two decades I am very grateful – thankful for our success and for the many clients and other tremendous individuals and firms we have had the opportunity to work and partner with over the years. It has truly been a blessing and one that I am thankful for each and every day.
How It All Started
Premier was officially launched August 1, 1995 because that was the day I was officially unemployed. I had been a casualty of the bank consolidation frenzy of the 1990’s when the bank I was employed with at the time was acquired. I had only been in banking for a year at the time, and consequently did not have a lot of capital in terms of a network of relationships or experience. I was only given a matter of weeks’ notice, so I was scrambling to try and decide what I was going to do.
Although I had a few opportunities with other institutions, and I probably could have managed to find a place with the acquiring institution if I was willing to relocate, there was nothing that really seemed to be attractive or to fit. Frankly, I was also somewhat disappointed in the corporate politics that I experienced in the merger, and so I was not really motivated to return to that environment.
At the time, the Community Reinvestment Act regulations were changing and moving toward a more data-driven approach to evaluations. I saw this an opportunity since my expertise was with demographics, geographic and other types of analysis. I ultimately made the decision to strike out on my own and start a consulting business with CRA and other types of related analysis as the emphasis.
Every Ex-Banker Is a Consultant…
The reaction of my colleagues was interesting when I announced that I had made the decision. I was met with a lot of thinly veiled skepticism, such as comments like, “well Brandon, every ex-banker is a consultant until he gets a real job,” and other such encouraging words. Now, of course, I understand as I learned quickly that there is a thin line between being self-employed and unemployed.
My mind goes back often to that first day 22 years ago. I was living in a small house, and when I found out my job at the bank was going away I did not own a computer or any other equipment I would need to start a business. After I made the decision start Premier Insights, Inc., I purchased a computer, printer, software, and a 9 track tape drive (because banks were still using those to transmit data in those days) and set it up in my bedroom. It’s fascinating to think about, because I could start my business today for far less than I did back then due to advances in technology.
I recall that day, August 1, 1995 vividly when I woke up that morning and sat on the edge of my bed. I had always had a job as long as I could remember. Even before I was a teenager I washed cars, cut grass, shined shoes, anything that I could do. Even through college I worked 30-40 hours or more a week, so I could not remember not having a job. The reality hit me immediately that morning as I realized I was officially unemployed. I had no office to go to, no clients, projects or any real prospects… nothing.
Because without customers any business is dead, that was my first priority. I had assembled a rolodex of potential contacts and continued to try and network through these and build more relationships. I did a lot of cold-calling, and anybody who has done that knows how painful it can be. It was a slow and grueling slog.
The Early Days
After a few months, I realized that I was not going to be productive working out of my bedroom. Since I had been so accustomed to being in a work environment I simply did not have the discipline to stay focused. So, I found an “office” that literally was the size of an elevator. To put it in perspective with respect to the size, if someone came by to visit with me they had to stay in the hall while I sat in the office as with the desk and equipment there just was not room for more than one person.
I could go on to describe those early days, but as every business owner and entrepreneur knows there are hills and valleys throughout the process. Our practice today is thriving and has been doing so for many years now. Again, I am grateful to our clients and those that we have had the pleasure of working with but also to our company staff. I am again so grateful for their dedication and the commitment to excellence shared by both our team and those others that we partner with to help us serve our clients.
In closing, I would like to add that it has been very rewarding working with the banking industry. I have met and had the opportunity to interact with so many wonderful people, many of whom have become good friends.
On behalf of the entire Premier team, we look forward to continuing to build and strengthen our business relationships for many decades to come.