I am the son of a marketing researcher. My father, Tom Quirk, spent nearly 25 years conducting and coordinating marketing research, primarily in the agricultural industry.
Growing up as the child of a researcher in the 1970s and ’80s, it was common for my dad to be on the road two to three weeks every month doing focus groups and working on studies. At times, my siblings and I would have to help him stuff envelopes for mail surveys he was conducting.
While other kids’ parents had careers that were easily explainable (nurse, lawyer, mechanic, banker), I always had a hard time describing what a market researcher was when people asked what my father did. I became so accustomed to watching their eyes glaze over as I outlined his job that I eventually just learned to say that he was a vice president at a company. This answer always seemed to satisfy people.
I have to admit, while I knew what he did and how hard he worked at it, I never really had an appreciation for it. To me, it was simply a job that supported our family.
In 1986, he started Quirk’s Marketing Research Review. Throughout his career he knew the industry needed a publication for the corporate researcher that would help guide them through their research projects. After I graduated from college in 1994, my father offered me a full-time position at the magazine. I took the job thinking it would be a stepping-stone to other things.
Looking back, it is one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only has it turned into a career I love, but I got the pleasure of working with and for my father for 12+ years.
In that time, I learned valuable business and life lessons:
• Honesty and integrity should be the backbone of any business.
• Customer service and customer relationships are critically important.
• A quick buck is not worth it.
• Money is not the most important thing in life.
• Do what you love to do.
• Check your ego at the door.
• Don’t forget to help those in need.
I now realize that many of the lessons I learned from my father were passed on to him by working in and serving the marketing research community. This has led me to develop a great respect for the industry we serve and all those who toil in it.
In September, the MRA presented my father with the Meritorious Service to Marketing Research Award for his 40 years as an advocate for the industry. My father did not set out for this achievement; he simply worked hard at what he loved to do.
I could not be more proud of my father and more proud to admit that I am the son of a researcher!