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A History of Fieldwork
In 1980 Creative Research Associates, a marketing research firm in Chicago spawned by Saul Ben-Zeev, a pioneer in qualitative research, decided that it was time for focus group facilities to move out of suburban basements and into the world of business. That year they opened Chicagoland Field Services, the first of what was to become a premier chain of 17 focus group facilities scattered around the US: Fieldwork, inc.
By today's standards that facility was modest, two suites with a small recruiting room and an even smaller office, but the concept was essentially complete – the hosting of qualitative research was no longer going to be a cottage industry – everything from recruiting to viewing, show and tell, documentation and ambiance was designed by seasoned moderators with a business purpose in mind and a commitment to using the best of modern technologies and procedures to arrive at a productive research experience.
Over the next 25 years, Fieldwork grew horizontally and vertically. Here are a few milestones:
1980 – Chicagoland Field Services was opened on the North side of Chicago – Real food (and M&M's) were introduced to the back room replacing the ubiquitous deli tray replete with yesterday's array of fruits and meats.
1980 – 2007 – Fieldwork goes from beta to rho – 17 first class facilities in or adjacent to Atlanta, New York (2), Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago (4), Denver, Dallas, Phoenix (2), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle (2). All but the newest facilities have been rebuilt at least once since their inception. All are regularly updated in terms of décor, technology and cheer.
1996 – C&R creates an 85 seat, CATI driven phone center. The center is folded into the Fieldwork domain by virtue of being a fielding enterprise befitting Fieldwork's charter. In addition to conducting survey studies, the Fieldwork Quantwork is increasingly useful as a recruiting center for large-scale projects done under Fieldwork auspices.
1997 -- Fieldwork East (Fort Lee) initiates a service of booking and managing multi-city projects for clients utilizing more than one Fieldwork facility. By 2000 it becomes clear that such a service needs to include non-Fieldwork options just as Airline booking services must book flights on competitive airlines. Fieldwork Network becomes a division of Fieldwork, Inc designed to book and manage projects for clients around the world.
Fieldwork Network today has offices in Chicago and Florence, Italy from which we book and manage projects from grand to grandiose. The Network today generates more than 15% of Fieldwork's revenue stream.
In 2003, quantitative work dominated the C&R scene, so the decision was made to split the company into two separate corporations with no common ownership.
Saul Ben-Zeev, Chairman and Founder of C&R, Steve Turner president, Chris DeBrauw, Exec. VP, Client Services, all three of whom are career-long qualitative practitioners along with Steve Raebel, CFO and Amy Gorlewski, Exec. VP Operations are our current equity partners.
Fieldwork is structured so that each entity within the family has a great deal of autonomy – harnessing local talent, hands-on management, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit – with sufficient cross-facility cohesion to give clients the economies of scale that can only be achieved through a broadly based brand organization.
Fieldwork intends to continue growing organically – one self-funded facility at a time – in an orderly pattern suited to the growing demands of our clients. We reward good employees throughout the system with opportunities to have their own piece of the action but are not afraid of cross-fertilization.
The owners, managers and employees of Fieldwork are absolutely certain that face-to-face exploration of peoples' needs, interests, dispositions and perceptions will always be an integral part of developing and nurturing products and services that are compelling to those for whom they are intended. We believe that, if anything, the digital age makes that effort more, not less essential to success.
We have put our money, our time and our energies behind that point of view and we intend to continue doing so.