Forum rebrands to spur growth

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A local nonprofit is hoping a name change will help it appeal to a larger — but still specific — audience.

“We want to appeal to a broader group, but we are not trying to attract just everybody,” said John Buckley, board president of Peak Executive Forum, formerly called Middle Market Entrepreneurs. “We are wanting people who are business owners or in C-suite positions of small and mid-size businesses.”

Peak Executive Forum’s goal is to help small to medium-sized companies grow through educational and networking events. Members are typically business owners and senior executives.

“I know for me personally, I always walk out of all of our programs with nuggets of information that I come back to my office and apply,” Buckley said. “That’s what we hope to do for everybody.”

The nonprofit’s previous name might have been confusing when they tried to attract new members because the term “middle market” can be interpreted to mean different things, said Jill Webb, a Peak Executive Forum board member.

“Sometimes, I think our target audience may or may not feel their companies are middle market based on their understanding of it,” she said. “We felt if we rebrand and take that out of the name, it could help us get some more traction and people interested in participating in our events.”

The nonprofit was founded 10 years ago with another organization, Peak Venture Group, but split two years later.

“We started the group to help founders of local second-stage businesses take their businesses to the next level through education but also to be able to network and learn from their peers,” said Trevor Dierdorff, a Peak Executive Forum board member. “The people that are typically our audience for this — that second-stage business — are going to have anywhere from 20 to 400 employees. It’s quite a range.”

Each year, the nonprofit hosts five semi-monthly events, which typically are interactive forums with local business leaders as panelists.

Buckley said last year the nonprofit averaged between 40 to 50 attendees at each event.

“The people who come and speak at our handful of meetings each year are leaders in this area’s business community who have done amazing things,” he said. “Every time — even when I don’t think the topic is going to be very interesting to me — I am enthralled and always get diamonds and pearls that I can take out of those meetings.”

However, the organization hasn’t been able to increase its audience in recent years.

“So we decided to try this rebranding and to do a few other things a little different,” Buckley said.

For instance, in the past, all of the nonprofit’s events took place in the morning and were at the El Paso Club. Going forward, there will be a mixture of luncheons and breakfast-time events and will be at both the previous location and The Warehouse Restaurant downtown.

“It seems people have a hard time getting to an event that starts early when the sun isn’t even up yet,” Dierdorff said. “We noticed this especially during our colder months, which is when a lot of our events take place.”

The nonprofit’s next event will focus on navigating business lifecycles and is scheduled for Sept. 21 from 6:45-9 a.m. at The Warehouse Restaurant, 25 W. Cimarron St. Panelists will include Scott McIntyre, CEO of Total Roofing; Clay Guillory, CEO of Titan Robotics; and Wayne Nielsen, president W.G. Nielsen & Co.

“We are going to talk about those different [lifecycle] stages and the differences that occur during them,” Buckley said. “If it gives [attendees] a vision for what they need to be thinking about in the future, we think we have added value in the educational sense.”

Go to mmecos.org for more information about Peak Executive Forum and to register for upcoming events.

Disclosure: Business Journal Publisher Amy Sweet is a member of the board of the Peak Executive Forum.

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