2007-09-13 / News

Islander on a fast track with online innovation

By Michaela Kennedy

Chris Crawford Chris Crawford Native islander Chris Crawford has found a great way to help Corporate America shop. His company, The Corporate Marketplace, Inc. (TCMPI), builds private online stores for large companies that spend roughly $30 billion on employee incentive and reward programs every year.

"Our technology platform allows you to secure the finest brand name jewelry, watches, and gifts in the world in seconds," Crawford says, "and at no cost to the manufacturer."

Last week, Inc. Magazine placed The Corporate Marketplace as the eighth fastest growing software company in the nation, and number 73 overall in a list of the 5,000 fastest growing privatelyheld American companies. The rankings resulted from an audit of a three-year period of financial statements, based on a percentage of revenue growth from 2003 to 2006.

The Corporate Marketplace took in $14 million in revenue last year, and expects to earn $20 million or more this year. TCMPI was also ranked number 12 as most likely to go public successfully, based on its financial success and speedy expansion. "We've been having 100 percent growth," Crawford adds.

Crawford moved into project management after earning a degree from the University of Richmond in Virginia. He found himself on a corporate path with a company in Massachusetts. Commuting to Boston every day to work on the technology highway of Route 128 was not a life he wanted to continue, however. He knew a better way was in store for him, so in 2000 he quit his job and cashed in his 401K retirement fund. His wife, Maryanne, the former town administrator, was admittedly not happy about the move. "She's the type of person who is organized and has a plan," Crawford notes.

Nevertheless, Crawford harbored no worries about whether his venture would be successful. "We said from the get-go we'd have trouble managing growth," he reflects. Powerful software, combined with the network potential of the Internet, has helped Crawford find his way to the coveted spot in aggressively growing companies.

TCMPI gathers information about what companies want to sell, and sends it out to some of the biggest firms in the country who buy in large volume. Using an MP3 technology interface, the software company can handle over a million transactions a day. The Corporate Marketplace is a direct link to jewelry manufacturers, name brand giftware and music instruments. "We feed Corporate America," the chief executive officer says.

Crawford reveals that he has helped a number of ailing jewelry manufacturers here in the state that have experienced a shrinking market for their products. Vendors joining the TCMPI network realize it quickly becomes a major money-maker for them.

Crawford notes that a good way to avoid problems is to hire talent and let them run with their ideas. "I have a staff that does not know the word 'no'," he grins. His philosophy is to hire really good people and get out of their way. "My job is to clean the office and empty trash cans," he jokes.

Crawford lives about a mile from his boyhood home on Seaside Drive. With three teenagers of his own, he shows a big interest in education. Support of the younger generation brings successful fruits to the business world, as Crawford has learned from his employees. In his earlier years, he approached Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design for an intern, and now the schools send top talent to him every year. "The interns travel with sales people and go to trade shows. They get a great learning experience," Crawford notes.

His daughter reminds him that it wasn't long ago when Microsoft was ranked number 80 on the same published list of developing companies. "You still have a long way to go," she tells Crawford.

To learn more about the interactive shopping experience, contact info@tcmpi.com or call 1-800- 361-1708.

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