By Tamarind Phinisee, NDG Contributing Writer
Royalyn Reid is a shrewd and successful entrepreneur. As the co-founder and CEO of multi-million dollar company Consumer and Market Insights (CMI), Reid is often sought out locally and nationally as a panelist or subject matter expert. Her company – which offers marketing research, training and conference management services – serves federal and commercial clients, both locally and nationally.
Reid’s non-corporate, down-to-earth personality shines – not only through her bedazzled smartphone, sparkly blue eye shadow and red polished nails – but also in the way she gives back to the community.
Reid has devoted countless hours mentoring women- and minority-owned small businesses. She sits on the board of directors of the D/FW Minority Business Development Council and the Women’s Business Council Southwest (WBCS) and is a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Forum.
The desire to give back, Reid says, stems from her own religious beliefs about tithing as well as the mentoring she received while growing her business. One of the most influential mentors throughout her career, Reid says, has been Aimee DiCicco, senior vice president of sales for FedEx Kinko’s. Reid has worked with DiCicco for more than five years.
DiCicco says she’s enjoyed watching Reid successfully grow her business and being a part of the process. The nature of her work with Reid, DiCicco says, has focused on the development of the right sales process for existing and new clients and hiring the right sales personnel.
“I think at the end of the day when you look at our core mission of connecting people with possibilities, I was very lucky to be part of that through FedEx by meeting Royalyn and helping her to do just that with her business,” says DiCicco, adding that Reid’s strong work ethic and desire for improvement through learning will promote continued growth at CMI.
Helping area youth
Reid also donates her time to the community at large.
For the last two school years, Reid and her employees have volunteered their time and resources at Francisco “Pancho” Medrano Middle School. The company is now poised for its third and final year to give back to students at the school next spring.
Reid adopted the school for three years, after a conversation with former city councilman Steve Salazar on ways to give back to the community. Reid says Salazar asked her to find a way to motivate students to listen to and obey their parents. She then worked with the school’s principal Theresa Fernandez Sigurdson and Pauline Medrano (who is now mayor pro tem) to formulate project ideas.
The first project, which began in the 2010-11 school year, called for students to do volunteer service in the community, documenting what they did and why. The second year, students wrote letters to troops overseas. Students who met project goals were invited to participate in a pizza party and also received prizes, including iPods. Plans are in the works for the third project this spring.
Sigurdson says she’s looking forward to the final project because these projects have been a positive experience for Medrano middle school students. Sigurdson appreciates the time that Reid, her parents and employees have spent with them.
“It gave students ownership and made them proud that they were making others happy,” Sigurdson says.
Reid’s hard work and community contributions have resulted in a number of awards over the years: Volunteer of the Year, Advocate of the Year and Supplier of the Year. This year she was named Woman Business Enterprise of the Year by the WBCS.
Building a business
Prior to starting CMI, Reid worked for 10 years at Mary Kay conducting marketing research and consumer testing. Reid launched CMI with her husband so she could spend more time with their two children but remain a part of the workforce.
Reid credits her ability to acquire clients quickly through networking and past relationships built at Mary Kay. CMI’s first client was the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The business started off in the Reid’s family dining room in 1998, with Reid working directly with clients. Her husband Angelo handled other duties such as computer programming and accounting, while maintaining his full-time job at IBM.
In 2004, they moved the company from their home to an incubator office space at the Bill J. Priest Institute for Economic Development – a collaborative effort between the Dallas County Community College District and the private sector to support economic development for the county.
Growing the business was not easy. But Reid says she and her husband took advantage of training from agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Small Business Development Center.
Reid also took advantage of training, education and mentoring offered through organizations like the DFW Minority Supplier Development Council and WBCS, which also served as a hotbed of potential clients.
And, Reid says she focused on customer service to differentiate CMI from her competitors.
“I think customer service is really the cornerstone of a business,” she says, adding that one bad experience by a consumer can now go viral via social media, greatly impacting a company’s business. “At the end of the day, it’s always easier to keep a customer then to gain a new one. … And your stronger, cutting-edge companies get that.”
Today, CMI has eight employees and occupies 5,000 square feet at its current location on the city’s North Side at 2351 W. Northwest Highway Ste. 2200. Its list of clients includes the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), Texas Instruments and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. CMI also has a number of SBA certifications.
As part of its future growth strategy, Reid says CMI is updating its branding and looking at ways to increase its client base and infrastructure. Reid indicated the company also plans to more than double its revenue over the next five years, which is currently between $2 million and $4 million.