A marketing company that originated in Wausau, Wis., has become one of the biggest promoters of the California Avocado Commission.
Tom and Kathy Marks are the founders of a company now known as TMA+Peritus, or TMAP, with offices in Wausau and Madison. The Markses and TMAP have promoted brands, developed marketing plans and designed websites for some of the largest U.S. companies, including international brands.
TMAP is not new to the world of produce; it has worked with the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin, the Dairyland State Academy, Native Wisconsin Herbal Cooperative and Bushman's Potatoes.
"We believe strongly in the ag industry, the food industry and what it means to the economy and Wisconsin," Kathy Marks said.
The CAC was looking this summer for a company that would create a new website for California avocado growers and would help facilitate the sharing of information of agricultural practices, management, legislation and other avocado-related information. TMAP was selected in August by the CAC over 18 other marketing companies from across the country.
April Aymami, industry affairs manager for the CAC, said the commission looked for a marketing company that had experience working with growers.
"They pitched to us to hold listening sessions, interviews with growers to understand the audience base before they tackled the online project," Aymami said.
Marks and other TMAP employees were brought to California this fall and were immersed in the avocado culture.
"We find out what our customers want, apply the insight and develop something that meets their needs instead of what we think they want," Marks said of TMAP's research.
TMAP's work with other growers in the potato and ginseng industry is an asset that gave TMA an advantage over other marketing companies that bid for the job, Aymami said. She didn't find it strange that a Wisconsin-based company is helping market a California fruit.
"They understand the mentality of growers and that transcends commodities," Aymami said.