Employee training and development firm New Directions of North Bennington, Vermont celebrates its 28th year of business on July 18th 2012. The firm was started in 1984 by Deborah Mackin out of her spare bedroom with a $500 loan from her mother. The international firm now has 4 employees, including Mackin’s son, Matthew Harrington, and partners with a vast array of local and global organizations looking to build people-centered, high-engagement workplaces. New Directions provides services in facilitation management, employee training and development, staff and customer surveying, leadership and executive coaching, and organizational strategy and assessment. Some of their recent clients include Coca-Cola, Sanofi Pasteur, Alcoa, Crane Currency, and Catholic Charities.
Mackin set out to create an organization that partners with organizations to increase leadership and strategy, while also providing professional development courses. Mackin is now a successful international consultant, trainer, author and presenter whose work has involved travel throughout the United States and abroad. She authored the Team-Building Tool Kit, first published in 1994 and now in its second edition, and is considered a global authority on teaming within organizations. Recently, Mackin’s blog, NDCBlogger, was one of only 29 in the world to be named an Influential Voice of Quality by the American Society for Quality.
“The amazing thing is that we have seen many economic ups and downs and we are still standing. I think the key for us has been our ability to adapt and innovate in an ever-changing industry, to hold true to our vision and values, and to work extremely hard, showing up every day, on time, ready to go – this has separated us from the competition and has kept us a steady, profitable business,” states Deborah Mackin as she reflects on the milestone.
“The other amazing thing is the vast amount of knowledge and experience this firm and its people have and how that translates into a steady, methodical business strategy of survival,” adds Matthew Harrington, Business Development Manager. “This business has seen the recessions of the 80s and then in the 90s and then again in early 2000 and obviously now. I’m learning every what to be concerned about, what not to be and how the business will unfold as it should. It’s an interesting mix of productive paranoia and 28 years of business discipline. It’s quite a crash course, up front lesson in business economics and sustainability.”
Harrington joined the firm in 2009 while Michael Harrington, Mackin’s other son and Matthew’s brother, was part of the firm. Michael Harrington has since moved on to take on the Director of Economic and Community Development position for the Town of Bennington. “We were sad to see him go, but we thought what a great fit and opportunity for Michael. We are a very proud family regardless of where he works,” adds Matthew Harrington. Even with the current economic climate looking “sluggish,” Harrington is optimistic about New Directions’ future, “We are very excited about the future of New Directions. The great thing about our products and services is that they will never go out of style. People will always be a part of the fabric that makes up business. Managers will continue to need skill development, leaders will continue to need outside perspective on strategy and people will continue to be an organization’s number one resource. And, we’re a people company! So I see us being in a very good position, especially as the world moves towards a much more knowledge-based, high-end technology and manufacturing-based economy. Not to mention the tension that is occurring as four generations are working together in many workplaces – generations with a very different set of beliefs and approaches to work. We’re a company, I believe, that can come in and help many of these organizations out with our vast experience and services for many years to come.”
Mackin reflected a little more about both the past and future of the business. “Back in 1984 when I was a young woman starting a business consulting firm in Vermont I had a lot of people tell me that I wouldn’t last a year. Well, we’re 28 years old and we’re still going strong. I’m excited to see where this ‘little firm that could’ will continue to grow, break new ground and what new directions we will pursue. The possibilities are endless.”