Bill White of Offenberger & White
Meet Bill White, founder of Offenberger & White, Inc., a digital marketing company.
What is Offenberger & White?
Offenberger & White is a digital marketing company specializing in articulating products and services for life science, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical research, energy, agriculture and sustainable high technology industries worldwide.
How did you come up with the idea?
I was working for Queue Systems, Inc., a biotech lab equipment company that I co-founded. After several rounds of venture capital funding, I needed to take my marketing skills out on my own. In 1985, I started this business with a partner, Warren Offenberger who retired in 1995, and we quickly became known as OffWhite.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
That we could actually make money doing what we loved. Early successes built confidence, and referrals became our most important asset. We learned that integrity was priceless.
Where did you find your first employee?
A referral. There is no place to hide or fake our knowledge of technology products, applications and markets. We absolutely must understand what our clients do. Our technical marketing requires an appreciation for biotechnology, mammalian cell culture, fermentation, cryogenic storage, and many other technologies. From our first employee on, we have built a team that understands the implications of these products in markets around the world.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
I work for my staff. We are in constant contact, so we try to minimize workflow problems. I have delegated OffWhite project management to a team of young, energetic marketing professionals who are very good at crafting outcomes by using contemporary digital media and digital publishing. I focus on the big picture.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes used to say, “Profit is not a dirty word in Ohio.” This attitude is back in style. Jobs create jobs, and entrepreneurs know this. Here in Marietta, our quality of life is ideal for what we do. We have a beautiful office on the Muskingum River at the confluence of the Ohio River. We have a robust broadband infrastructure, cloud solutions for collaboration, easy access to Akron and Columbus airports, and we’re within driving distance of more than 25 percent of the USA life sciences market. Our proximity to Marietta College
and Ohio University
are assets. Plus, we can go home for lunch.
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We are members of BioOhio
and our local Chamber of Commerce
. We are 100 percent internally funded. Recently, however, we have stepped up our search for an economic development program to help us launch training modules for our Ed.it™2 digital marketing platform. It is a unique solution that ties together website, social media, analytics, mail and more into a single, user-managed dashboard.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
I received an email from a Chinese businessman that I nearly deleted without reading because we were getting swamped with offshore spam. Something about this message bothered me, however, so I opened and read it. This single message led to a fabulous professional and personal experience with a global company based in Singapore. OffWhite established a 24/7/365 program between Marietta and Singapore. We had 10 people on staff from eight different countries all working under our direction in Marietta to bring our client company forward in three short years. They are now a market leader in the life science laboratory equipment industry, and we proved that we could transverse time zones, language and culture.
What inspires you?
Seriously, my staff inspires me. I am surrounded by smart people. I do not want to let them down. I want to challenge, delegate, get out of the way, and permit this amazing team to do great work and own the outcomes.
Can you share some of your favorite off-time activities?
I love music. I’m the vice president of the Ohio Foundation for Music Education
, an initiative of the Ohio Music Education Association. I’m privileged to work with board members from around the state who advocate for arts in public education. Music is the universal language, opening doors to science, math and more. I play keyboard in a rock and roll band. I write music and lyrics. I’m working on a musical version of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
What founders do you admire and why?
My hero is Dick Bergen, founder of Forma Scientific, now part of Thermo Fisher, Marietta. What he started in 1952 led to the start of an industry that is truly making our lives better worldwide. Dick Bergen was an American entrepreneur who mortgaged his house and put his fortune on the line for a dream. He bet on himself. We all won.
What’s next for you?
I want to empower my staff in Marietta to serve a worldwide market and make a difference for our clients. I want to find and challenge new clients, hopefully in Ohio -- but anywhere in the world, to be the best they can be on the global stage. I want to help young, emerging-growth technology companies look and act like they belong in the market sooner than later, and I want to work with venture capital firms to deliver marketing tools and brand equity to fledgling start-up portfolio companies at a time they can least afford it.
And I want to have fun doing it.
Interview by Joe Baur