Direct Marketer of the Year: Brian Kurtz, executive vice president, Boardroom Inc.
March 30, 1981. To the world, this was the day that John Hinckley, Jr. tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, just 70 days into his first term. To the direct marketing industry, this was the day that Brian Kurtz stepped through the doors of 500 Fifth Ave. at 42nd St. in New York City for his first day at Boardroom Inc. (then known as Boardroom Reports Inc.).
For the few people who don't know Kurtz-and I do mean few; he's one of the most well-connected executives in the direct marketing industry-this job was not, as one might expect, in Boardroom's marketing department. Rather, Kurtz started his career as a list professional, something he firmly believes gave him an edge in understanding the intricacies of developing and selling products via direct channels. His knowledge of audiences ahow to sell to them has helped the privately held, family-run publishing firm's stable of products grow to include six print newsletters, with a combined circulation in excess of 1 million, and a whopping 36 book titles, which account for more than 2 million additional customers.
But Kurtz will be the first one to say that any success he's achieved is a direct result of hard work, yes, but also the education he's received from some of the best business people in direct marketing. He has devoted his career to becoming not only the ultimate student of direct marketing but also to the principles that drive business relationships, many of which he gleaned from his mentor of all mentors, Martin (Marty) Edelston.
Edelston is the founder and chairman of Boardroom Inc., and the heart and soul of the business. His passion for learning, his emphasis on efficiency and his devotion to people-both inside and outside of Boardroom-provide a compass for every activity at the company. After 26 years working for Edelston, it's no surprise that Kurtz has embraced these attributes, too, but in his own way.