Alicia: What have 30 years of Business People meant to you, Dan?
“Frankly, it’s a little emotional for me. And I didn’t expect that,” he says. “Recently it struck me that I’ve spent the middle third of my life in this business doing everything I could to grow and make it better, serving our clients through it all.”
Copeland arrived in Fort Wayne from Kalamazoo in July 1987. He had quit his job, sold his house and moved his family to a brand new city to start a business magazine. There were some naysayers, but there were supporters, too. Those supporters outnumbered the naysayers and helped Copeland get the business off the ground and keep it going for 30 years.
“When I think back over the past 30 years, the best things to come out of those years are the relationships that I have built with many people in northeast Indiana,” he says. “Some of those folks have become my very good friends and I will always cherish those friendships. None of us has more than a handful of good friends; we may have a lot of acquaintances but most of us can count our really close friends on one hand. I have those friends and I feel fortunate that I do. It’s really a blessing.”
Copeland also takes pride in knowing that he has helped grow the region’s economy. Since MBPI started in 1987, its purpose, as it says on the cover of every issue of Business People, has been to help the businesses of northeast Indiana grow. Countless business people will agree that their business has benefitted from exposure in one or more of MBPI’s advertising vehicles.
Thirty years have brought growth and change to MBPI. It is a multi-faceted media and communications company offering businesses throughout northeast Indiana and beyond varied opportunities to promote themselves to other businesses and individuals in the region. MBPI produces the area’s highest quality magazines, sells the advertising in the terminal building at Fort Wayne International Airport and, through its BPPromos division, offers promotional products (including apparel) to businesses of all kinds.
MBPI’s publications include Business People magazine, Fort Wayne Living, Planning Your Wedding and BusinessWomen of Northeast Indiana. It also produces publications for other entities including All Things Auburn for the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, Tapestry: A Day For You at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and in 2017, a beautiful hard cover book celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Building Contractors Association (BCA).
Copeland attributes much of the success of Business People to the staff. “This is a small company with a rather large footprint. We only have 10 people, but the staff we have today is by far the best staff we’ve ever had,” he says. “I trust every single individual on this staff to do what is best for the business. That’s such a relief to have an entire group of people who put the business before their own personal ideals – that’s critical to success and we have that here.”
And Copeland has spent 30 years making the business a better place to work for those employees. “I want this to be a place where people say ‘I like it here and want to stick around for 10, 15, 20 years.’ I want them to be here that long. That’s somewhat selfish because it makes my job easier,” he says with a laugh, “But it also gives us consistency in that everyone knows what they’re doing. It’s better for everyone, staff and clients alike, when we have seasoned, knowledgeable people.”
When asked about his reputation, the reputation of Business People and why it and he are such respected entities in northeast Indiana, Copeland’s answer is humble. “This business has never been about me or about any of us on our staff. We are all about serving the businesses of northeast Indiana and the people running them. That’s always been my philosophy.” He adds, “When we make a commitment, we stick to our word. We do what we say we are going to do.”
Copeland continues, citing the magazines that MBPI produces. “The reputation comes in large part from the quality product that we put out. We use high-quality paper, we use good, professional photography and writing, and we only hire very high quality professional staff.”
In closing, Copeland says that the last 30 years have been a challenge and a blessing. “It’s not the size of our staff or our sales that make the business so well known, it is the fact that this magazine goes out every single month and is read by over 75,000 people. That’s what makes it so well known throughout northeast Indiana.”