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Entrepreneur Started First Business with $1,000 – and Most of That Went to the Phone Line

Entrepreneur Started First Business with $1,000 – and Most of That Went to the Phone Line

Benjamin W. Mangan

When Benjamin W. Mangan decided to start his first business, RapidMail, he had only $1,000 to launch his enterprise – and a big share of that went to the phone line.

“I had to use 44 percent of that initial investment to get a Northwestern Bell phone line,” he said. “That cost didn’t even include wiring to the telephone. I had to do that part myself.”

RapidMail, a mailing business, operated from 1987 to 1996, and running that first company, Mangan noted, made it necessary to learn many new skills. “Most entrepreneurs end up having to do a little bit of everything along the way,” he said. “Back then, I had to do my own marketing, employee management – you name it, I did it. I even had to learn how to repair computers, and program them, too. I no longer do my own phone wiring, of course, but I still use many of the skills I learned with that first company.”

Today Mangan is the president of another company he founded – MANCOMM, a national safety and compliance publishing company. MANCOMM provides business and industry with state-of-the-art regulatory products, training tools and resources. Regulations covered by many of these products come from the Department of Labor/Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), California OSHA, and the Department of Transportation. MANCOMM also offers employment law information, software, training videos, and more.

A New Future in Safety and Compliance

While he was managing RapidMail, Mangan developed an interest in workplace safety training. He soon realized he could move into this industry, using many of the skills and resources he had developed while operating the mailing business. In 1996 he opened his next enterprise, American Safety Training, Inc., which offered training seminars nationwide.

After some problems with instructors he had hired, Mangan did a great deal of the training himself. “I did eventually find instructors who met with my approval,” he said, “but I don’t regret doing much of the initial training. It was important for me to get in that instruction experience myself.”

Those early years in training made it necessary for Mangan to consult government regulations regularly. Reading all that complex information was not an enjoyable task, since the words were printed in long, nondescript blocks of text. “Having to study reams of featureless wordage didn’t really appeal to me,” Mangan said.

Mangan soon realized that if it didn’t appeal to him, then it probably wasn’t a pleasant duty for other safety professionals, either. He saw this concept as both a challenge and an opportunity. Was there something he could do to make all that information easier to navigate, read and understand?

In 2001, he developed a user-friendly graphical approach to regulations called RegLogic®. This one-of-a-kind innovation provides information-seekers with prominent headers, a color-coded outline style, an easy-to-use table of contents, tabbed subsections, enhanced graphics, and an index with prominent page numbers.

“Basically, all the special features in RegLogic® serve as welcome markers in featureless fields of text,” Mangan said. “RegLogic® became the cornerstone of my next business, MANCOMM, which I launched that same year. MANCOMM incorporated RegLogic® into its print and electronic versions of government regulations, and from the very beginning, it was a big hit with customers.”

American Safety Training began to use MANCOMM books to train clients, Mangan added, and soon safety professionals nationwide were using RegLogic®-enhanced products for their compliance and training needs. The two businesses continue to work well together, and to this day, many clients of American Safety Training regularly buy from MANCOMM.

Soon Mangan developed another invention for his knowledge-hungry customers: regSMART, an innovation that also helps to make regulatory information easier to understand and use. In developing products using this innovation, MANCOMM’s safety professionals review the appropriate regulations, determine what information should be sought out, and then let users know where the information can be found.

“Our safety experts identified five helpful information categories, and the initials of those categories spell out SMART,” Mangan said. The five categories in regSMART are Scope, Management Controls, Alerts, Records, and Training.

regSMART was instrumental in the development of the Essentials of Safety Training Program, which is used extensively in American Safety Training’s nationwide educational sessions. Essentials of Safety for General Industry became a popular MANCOMM product, and a Construction Industry version was released in 2011.

Delegating Duties

“I’ve never liked doing a lot of the day-to-day duties in business,” Mangan said, “so I needed personnel who could handle those daily matters. My staff at MANCOMM currently includes a human resources specialist, editors, graphic designers, sales and customer representatives, warehouse personnel, and many more.”

Over the years, Mangan added, he has always delegated, but it can be more difficult than one might think. “I’m very much a detail-oriented person,” he said, “and sometimes it can be hard for others to see the importance of seemingly small details. But those details can easily make or break a project.”

Being a detail-oriented person, Mangan often picks others with that same quality when it comes time to hire new employees. “I feel most confident when hiring someone who has a real passion for his or her work,” he noted.

Getting the Word Out

Entrepreneur Started First Business with $1,000 – and Most of That Went to the Phone Line Mangan and his staff members promote MANCOMM safety and compliance products in a variety of ways. The company website, Mancomm.com, features an online shopping cart and is a major source of sales. The marketing team includes customer service and sales professionals, the production manager, the marketing and public relations director, graphic designers, and the I.T. director.

“Really, every employee here is involved in marketing our products to some degree,” he said. “For example, editors have to think about how the end-users will like the results of what they are doing. The warehouse personnel need to make sure that they’ve packed the products carefully, so they don’t get scuffed. A lot of care goes into every MANCOMM product, from start to finish.”

In addition to direct mail and email campaigns, the MANCOMM staff also promotes products through Google AdWords, and employees regularly attend key industry conferences and expos. “I really enjoy meeting regular customers and new prospects alike – face-to-face as opposed to online or over the phone,” Mangan said. “Plus, I have my own planes, and going to these events gives me a good reason to fly all over the country.”

In addition to his leadership duties at MANCOMM, Mangan also helps to guide two other publishing firms: Blue Gavel Press and Reglas Press. Blue Gavel Press serves as a national information provider for America’s business community, and Reglas Press publishes Spanish-language safety materials.

“Our work with Blue Gavel Press and Reglas Press helps us to reach out to increasing number of business decision-makers nationwide,” Mangan said. “The ultimate goal is for our dedicated collective of companies to become a primary source of employment law and government compliance information. We’ve come a long way from the days when buying a phone line cost me almost half of my worldly worth.”

For more information on MANCOMM, visit Mancomm.com. American Safety Training, Inc. can be found online at TrainAST.com. Learn more about Reglas Press and Blue Gavel Press at ReglasPress.com, and BlueGavelPress.com.

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