SPEARFISH — Anthony Marlowe, who founded TMone in 2003 and sold it in 2013, repurchased the company in its entirety Oct. 1. The company’s Spearfish location, set to “go live” in the new building in the Exit 14 industrial park, has announced it will immediately hire 100 new positions, and while TMone will be the name on the building, the company is doing business as (dba) Mass Markets, headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa.
Marlowe, 36, Mass Markets’ chief executive officer, said that since selling TMone to ERC in 2013, he’s been involved in various passive investments and knew he wanted to play a more active role in a company to start or lead. When the opportunity to buy TMone came up, his intimate knowledge of the company, confidence in the team, relationship with clientele, and geographic locations of service centers all gave Marlowe “a lot of confidence in quickly and aggressively pursuing the repurchasing possibility,” he said.
TMone located in Spearfish in August 2011, after Premier Bankcard left the building in the industrial park built by the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the city. Premier occupied the building for about 10 years and donated it to the city upon vacating Spearfish. TMone signed a 10-year lease for the space in 2011, and in 2013, shortly before the building collapsed under more than four feet of snow during winter storm Atlas, ERC acquired TMone.
As part of the project to rebuild the space, in March 2014 the Spearfish City Council chose Ainsworth-Benning Construction, Inc., as the construction manager at risk (CMAR), a process that combines the design, engineering, and cost estimates into one process, and in June, the city approved the contract with Ainsworth-Benning.
ERC signed a seven-year lease in October 2014 for a portion of the building, at which point the city council voted to move forward to construct the steel frame building based upon the initial $5.8 million expected from insurance proceeds. In February 2015, the council approved the final guaranteed maximum price of $5,774,303 for the reconstruction, a requirement in the CMAR process. Total insurance proceeds from the former building and its contents were approximately $6.2 million, giving the city the option to add features, such as parking lot resurfacing. TMone will occupy 10,000 square feet, approximately a quarter of the building. Employees have been working in a portion of the Spearfish rec center during the interim.
Marlowe said that there’s a lot of emotion surrounding the company’s Spearfish location, especially since he repurchased the company only days away from the two-year anniversary of the building’s collapse. He added how grateful the company is to Mayor Dana Boke, former Mayor Jerry Krambeck, the community, Spearfish Economic Development Corporation, employees, and everyone involved in working to allow the company to utilize the rec center following the winter storm and championing the reconstruction project.
“After all of that, I don’t know of any other way to approach it other than the loyalty that we feel to the community is deep and substantial, and we look forward to many great years to come and to continue to grow in the city of Spearfish,” Marlowe said.
Bryan Walker, former executive director of Spearfish Economic Development Corporation, was involved in the reconstruction and lease process.
“As a growing community, it’s important that Spearfish maintains a diverse economy,” he said. “Since 2001, the call center industry has complemented other sectors of our economy and has provided career opportunities for several hundred people living throughout the Northern Hills. We are happy to welcome Mass Markets as our first tenant in the new Project Atlas Building, and we are excited about the growth plans which lie ahead for the company.”
Marlowe named telecommunications industry executive Jason Falco, of Denver, as Mass Markets’ chief operating officer, and Marlowe said that while things will remain “business as usual,” the company would be taking a look at just about everything within its network of domestic call center and managed information services (MIS) locations going forward. Marlowe said that while the company has marketed itself as a business process outsourcing company, it also provides a substantial amount of infrastructure, database, software, managed information, and custom integrations systems.
“I am launching Mass Markets to help companies reduce the costs of doing business by participating in the combined management of information services and the modernization of telecommunications, which offers the option to utilize Software as a Service (SAAS) with or without temporary or permanent outsourced staff,” he added. “No one can aggregate, develop, procure, and manage this type of platform in the United States as efficiently as us.”
Keeping jobs in the United States is a priority for Marlowe, given that many companies outsource call center services, and Mass Markets will specialize in contracting services to American-based companies.
“Although it’s not ever fully left us, I believe that there’s going to be a resurgence of American exceptionalism,” Marlowe said. He added that the company believes that every employee should be able to participate in its success, and a stock contract program available to every employee will be rolling out in 2016, which has been well received.
Larry Klarenbeek, the interim director of Spearfish Economic Development Corporation, described that the organization has experienced a good working relationship with TMone, and he gave “kudos” to the employees and leaders who have worked through the challenges since winter storm Atlas, moving quickly to minimize impact to the company and its employees after the building collapse.
“It has been a long process of planning, building, and organizing since that time, and Spearfish Economic Development Corporation is extremely excited to assist Mass Markets with the realignment of their organization,” Klarenbeek said. “This new space will allow Mass Markets to continue to increase their base workforce, creating additional jobs for the Northern Hills.
“Anthony Marlowe is a very successful and stable entrepreneur,” Klarenbeek added. “We look forward to a continued partnership in seeing more economic growth In the Spearfish region.”
Plans are currently in progress for a press conference/grand opening celebration in the coming weeks, with local and state dignitaries and representatives from TMone expected. Marlowe said the company will be testing the facility the last weeks of October, with the plan to go live Nov. 1. He does not intend to exit the software company until an IPO (initial public offering) or sale valuing nine figures is reached. The company is equipped with four facilities in the Midwest with the capacity for 1,500 employees. It currently has nearly 500 people on staff. The company also maintains relationships and co-location with strategic data center partners in Iowa.