Kimberly Burbank Pye, CEO of America’s Media Marketing, credits the company’s success to her employees. “I have a great team of people,” she said, “and you do whatever it takes to keep good employees.”
Think big. Those two words, spoken by her father from as early on as she can remember, are what motivate Kimberly Burbank Pye.
As president and CEO of America’s Media Marketing Inc., Pye is a successful, well-established entrepreneur on every level. She began her affiliation with the company during its inception as an employee in her first year of college. She will celebrate 20 years this month.
Pye sits comfortably in the office she built four years ago and affectionately named Burbank Place after her parents. Her well-organized desk is covered in an array of magazine titles and decorative pieces displaying inspirational quotes.
The walls exhibit additional motivational art and plaques, hinting that Burbank’s passion is indeed sparked by the powers of positive thinking.
Her father, she said, was a major player in her success. He and her mother, Lauren, raised Kimberly and her six siblings with the kind of parental support that builds healthy self-esteem, encouraging them to reach for their dreams. Robert Burbank died just over a year ago.
“I can only now talk about him without becoming teary-eyed,” Pye said.
Burbank was an iconic figure in Hernando County, owning several successful real estate businesses and property investment firms. He was also a motivational speaker. His children inherited his entrepreneurial spirit and his drive to excel.
In fact, Pye became such a vital player in the advertising company where she worked that she purchased the business nine years ago at age 29.
She has since built the business into one that’s still vibrant and competitive, despite economic challenges. It competes with large corporations in big cities like New York and Los Angeles.
America’s Media Marketing was recognized twice as an Inc. 500 Award Company. That title is given each year to 500 of the fastest-growing, privately owned corporations in the United States.
“It is hard enough to do it for one year, but to do it two consecutive years is really impressive,” Pye explained. “You have to grow exponentially.”
America’s Media Marketing is contracted by more than 70 national magazines to produce and manage their marketplace sections and/or sell direct-response advertising into the magazines. America’s Media works with national publications like Parenting, Redbook, Money, Fortune, and Better Homes and Gardens’ Do It Yourself Magazine, to name a few.
Pye began working with Oprah Magazine more than a year ago and proudly displayed her company’s efforts in the new issue.
“They actually flew down here from New York and asked if we would help them sell their ad space,” she said. “Out of the 17 ads sold in the recent Selections section, we sold 15. We were very happy with that and the magazine was as well.
“We’ve come so far. “We used to focus more on the classified ads that you find in the back of the publications. We now mainly focus on displays, full page ads and big spreads.”
The team consists of 13 players, two of whom are Pye’s sisters, Misty Burbank Prunty and Kalani Burbank Ward.
Pye believes the secret to success is finding talented and loyal employees and retaining them.
“I want them to love coming to work like I do,” she said with an infectious smile.
The longest employed, Darlene McCracken, who is the administrative supervisor, has been with Pye for 13½ years.
Besides Pye’s sisters, seven other marketing account executives complete the sales team: Debbie Vasbinder and Joyce Engler, both with 11 years; Vicki Smith, with 10 years; Jennifer McRae with seven years; Karen Johnson with two years; Lori Driver with 1½ years; and the most recent hire, Wendy Blanton, who started two months ago.
The mixture of talent and personality adds to the foundation of success here. Johnson, for example, came from the real estate industry.
“I love coming to work every day,” she said, acknowledging she has never looked back.
McRae, meanwhile, used to be in customer service and sales.
The production department consists of two graphic designers who are responsible for creating the display ads and pages for the magazines. Production supervisor Jeff Varnes has been with Pye for more than eight years. Graphic designer Sonia Stokes is a seven-year veteran of America’s Media Marketing.
The team is complete with Financial Coordinator Debbie Merritt, who has been with the company for 10 years.
Absent is the competitive aura of a traditional sales environment. Instead, everyone encourages and praises each other’s efforts.
“We’re all working for the good of the company,” said Ward. “If it is successful, then we’re successful.”
They support each other, the women said, and celebrate each time one meets a specific challenge or goal. In fact, they listen intently to Blanton as she learns the techniques and are quick to praise or coach her.
Pye regularly offers incentives for her employees, awarding prizes like cruises and shopping sprees to top producers. It isn’t uncommon for the entire team to take a shopping excursion in a limo as a thank you for their efforts.
Pye’s secret to a dedicated team, she said, is her ability to recognize that her employees are people first.
“They have families,” she said. “I have a family. I’m a mom. If I need flexibility in my life … then I want them to have it, too.”
Pye has been married to David, a deputy U.S. marshal, for 15 years. They have three sons: David, 13, Justice, 9, and Hunter, 5.
The emphasis on family is difficult to miss and is not just between the Burbank sisters.
“We are treated like everyone else,” Ward said.
In this environment, it means they are all treated like family.
Biz at a Glance
Name: America’s Media Marketing Inc.
Address: 13169 Jacqueline Road, Brooksville FL 34613
Call: (800) 647-7530