It was a long time since we had a chance to chat with Paul Flanagan who has been working with Wixum, Michigan-based Pro-Motion Technology Group for almost a year.
“I hit the ground running at 200 mph and haven’t slowed down since,” says Flanagan, whose official title is vice-president, handling the western region of the U.S. for Pro-Motion. However, his position seems to encompass a wide range of responsibilities.
Flanagan is probably best known for his five years at Best Buy where he was director of brand communications. He earlier worked with the San Diego Padres where he was involved, among other things, in dealing with the jumbotron and then, with the Sacramento River Cats in digital signage throughout the entire stadium. After leaving Best Buy, he had short stints at several firms including his own Kickstart Marketing & Design.
“I consider that I apprenticed at them all, building experience towards my journeyman status,” says Flanagan. “Now, that background really helps me at Pro-Motion. Pro-Motion is an end-to-end digital solutions provider and Lynn Matson, the president and CEO, really wants the company to grow and evolve.”
“Our aim is to give the client whatever is needed, and we collaboate with partners and clients across all verticals. While we are very strong in retail – which is really a petrie dish of learning about digital signage because it’s the most visible – we’re also involved in hospitality, education and financial sectors.”
Flanagan says that, in addition to what might be seen as his main responsibilities at Pro-Motion, he attends a lot of shows, writing and speaking, and with a particular interest in behaviours and the engagement between the client and the consumer.
“I talk a lot about digital signage and A/V integration,” he says. “We’re seeing a lot of clients wanting to have a more intimate relationship with their customers interested in things like touch screens.
But Pro-Motion’s approach is to discuss in depth the full aims of what the client’s vision is for three, five, seven years down the road, not just, to put in a touch screen, for example, because it’s popular.
“We call that the ‘bright, shiny object syndrome,” says Flanagan. “Technology moves quickly and things go out of date, so we try to work with the client so that we can update according to his vision down the line,” says Flanagan. “This includes thinking beyond now, in terms of how a network will grow.
“We talk strategy, as well, and how what they want now fits into that. Talking about screens often opens up a whole Pandora’s Box. It often means going wider and deeper than orginally envisioned, but clients are happy, because they see that we understand their needs for the future, not just for now.
“We deal with everything: the weight of the screens, for example, which can affect their installation. In fact, Pro-Motion has its own design and engineering teams, so that we can design everything from the outset, locations, wiring, everything. Of course, this also includes maintenance and support.”
Of course, this hasn’t happened overnight. Pro-Motion, 100% owned by Matson, has been in business for 27 years. And it has been developing solid partnerships with suppliers. One company that it does a lot with is iDisplay, but it deals with many others as well.
We asked Flanagan about Pro-Motion’s clients.
“Among others, one that we are particularly proud of is Mercedes-Benz,” he says. “We’ve put 46” touch screens in 354 locations across the U.S., dealing with each separately because of the location designs.”
Flanagan says, “You know, I feel very fortunate to have found a job that I love. I wake up every morning looking forward to it.”