Chalk up one more casualty from the fallout of the Great Recession.
Rosslyn-based TARP Worldwide has a new name after 40 years.
The customer service firm has changed its name to CX Act, in part to distance itself from another TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, put in place to deal with the nation’s financial crisis. (The Rosslyn TARP once stood for Technical Assistance Research Program.)
The company calls itself a customer experience firm, which explains the new “CX” name. As part of the rebranding, it created a new position, called chief customer officer, a role to be held by Jim Stone.
Stone, who has a doctoral degree in applied research, served 28 years at Maritz Research, most recently as chief research and innovation officer.
CX Act helps businesses figure out the best way to interact with customers.
“When an American Automobile Association tow truck driver pulls up beside you along the roadside and greets you, we help those tow truck drivers know what matters,” said CX Act chief executive Crystal D. Collier. “We help Mercedes Benz understand how their dealers feel about working for Mercedes.”
Founded in 1971, CX Act has pioneered the science of quantifying, managing and improving the customer experience. The company has 25 employees.
CX Act is owned by several local investors, including CNF Investments, which is the family that owns Clark Enterprises, and Alfred Street Partners, which is the investment vehicle of local entrepreneur John Brady.
The Treasury Department’s TARP program should not get the total blame for the name change. “People thought we were a big piece of blue plastic that you throw over your bass boat. But in fact, we are a customer experience firm that is sophisticated, unique and innovative,” Collier said.
Koofers, the Blacksburg, Va.-based online site that allows college students access to professors’ ratings, study guides and job opportunities, went over 1 million subscribers. Koofers was founded in 2008 by four Virginia Tech students: Michael Rihani, Glynn LoPresti, Patrick Gartlan and Dan Donahoe.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is hosting a fundraiser Feb. 28 at the Washington Ritz-Carlton to announce its first Student of the Year. Tammy Darvish, executive vice president of Darcars Automotive Group, one of the largest Toyota dealerships in the United States, said students have raised $350,000 to fight blood cancers. Eleventh- and 12th-grade students have held more than 100 mini-fundraising events, met with corporate executives, written business plans and marketed their fundraisers across social media to help raise money. Toyota is awarding $1,000 to every student who raised $10,000 or more.
Amy Nichols, 40, founded Dogtopia, the Tysons Corner-based doggie day care, in 2002 in part to find suitable digs for her Boston terrier, Griffin.
Dogtopia now has 29 franchises across a dozen states, with 12 under development. The company has eight centers in the Washington market, five of which are corporate-owned.
Revenues for last year hit $16 million, up from $14 million in 2012.
We e-mailed Nichols some questions earlier this month, and following are some edited responses.
What has been the biggest change in your industry in the past five years?
Similar to the shift we saw years ago in the child-care industry. As people’s lives get busier and they are away from home more, we are seeing them opting for professional-level dog day care rather than having their beloved pet stay home and wait for a dog walker or use a doggie door. People have also begun to understand the health benefits of exercise and socialization that their dog gains by day care.
How would raising the minimum wage and health-care reform affect your bottom line?
Most Dogtopia locations pay $9-plus an hour to entry-level employees. I started providing health insurance to our employees in 2004; so on the corporate side, I feel pretty secure.
What we worry about is how our franchisees will be affected, and how we can support them with these impending changes. Each franchise is an individually owned small business. They don’t have the resources and bandwidth to take on additional reporting requirements and regulation. Small businesses are disproportionately affected whenever there is an increase in regulation.
What’s the hardest part of running this business?
We went from being a lean and mean small business to gaining an investment partner and planning for massive growth. The level of complexity has greatly increased, and with that comes a lot more paperwork, planning and legal work
One of the hardest things for me, and something I spend a great deal of time thinking about, is what activities and opportunities are the best use of my and my team’s time.
48 HoursThat’s how long it took to haul the makings of the $15 million Capital Wheel from Baltimore to National Harbor last week. Peterson Cos. is betting the wheel will be an iconic symbol of its sprawling development along the Potomac River. Two barges, pushed by a tugboat named Rising Sun, were filled with the makings of the Ferris wheel, which will rise 175 feet above the water. The barges carried 280,000 pounds of galvanized steel, and 120,000 individual steel beams to support the 42 cabins that will house the wheel’s customers on their 20-minute rides. Cianbro of Baltimore, which delivered the parts and is assembling the structure on a pier at National Harbor, is using a giant crane that can lift 460,000 pounds. The wheel should start rotating before June.