Superior telemarketing firm grows with clients coast-to-coast

Philip Hoberg and Justin Shatto, lifelong friends who grew up in Superior's East End, are making plans to expand their Belknap Street marketing firm.

Philip Hoberg and Justin Shatto, lifelong friends who grew up in Superior's East End, are making plans to expand their Belknap Street marketing firm.

The Hoberg-Shatto Group, which provides direct marketing services to the telecommunications industry, got its start with 10 employees in January. Now with 43 on staff, it's planning another expansion.

Over the next three weeks, the company hopes to add 10-15 people each week, Hoberg said.

"Today, we're selling AT&T on the West Coast," Hoberg said. "Tomorrow, we could be selling on the East Coast."

Their goal was to serve a nationwide market from the city where Shatto and Hoberg grew up, and many of their longtime friends have joined the company.


Hoberg, a graduate of the University of Michigan, said his research in brain, behavior and cognitive sciences earned acknowledgment in scientific journals, but it felt like something was missing.

"I continued to think about my hometown of Superior and how what I always really wanted [was] to stay near my good friends and find a way to be successful near home, even if that meant smaller success," Hoberg said. "Growing up here, you've got all these resources ... lakes, great friends, schools."

Shatto stayed in the Twin Ports and worked his way up at a local telemarketing center. He had considered moving his family -- a girlfriend and two children -- to New York for an entrepreneurial opportunity.

Meanwhile, Hoberg's ambitions of becoming an entrepreneur were coming to fruition. Last summer, he launched the Northland's first text-message marketing company, Northland SMS.

"The moment I saw that Philip Hoberg had started a company, I knew I wanted on board," Shatto said.

"Justin saved Northland SMS," Hoberg picked up the story. With his credit cards maxed and savings invested in the start-up, Hoberg said, he thought it was going to fail until Shatto got involved.

"If Justin hadn't bought into half of the company, my one-man sales force was going to starve, and so would the attention a new company needs," he said.

In January, the friends opened another marketing company with a focus on direct marketing. The 96-seat telesales center provides marketing and sales services nationwide, for companies such as Verizon and AT&T. It also aims to provide 96 new local jobs by the end of this year.


"We have the ability to service the entire country," Hoberg said "Here we can jump from market to market."

Tapping national markets for their service was part of the partners' strategy, allowing their sales force to skip across the nation from workstations in Superior.

"A company like this just made sense for us," Hoberg said. "In a tough economy, it's important to keep jobs near home. ... With our employee staff growing from 10 to 42 in our first five months, it shows how committed we are to reinvesting our profit so we can grow to full capacity and provide fun, quality jobs for people here in the Twin Ports."

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