If you have lived in Columbia for a while, or even if you are thinking of moving here, you are likely to have seen a book with a yellow oval heading in racks around town. The publication is called The Real Estate Book of Columbia & Surrounding Communities, and it is compiled by Maximum Media Inc.
More than eight years ago, husband-and-wife team Anthony Holmes and Lesha Hageman founded Maximum Media. The Real Estate Book, which comes out every two weeks, was their first project. The book is a franchise, but Hageman and Holmes decided to purchase the rights to the local territory in 1995. Hageman, who was a real estate agent, was advertising in The Real Estate Book at that time. When the owners decided to sell, Hageman and Holmes jumped on the opportunity.
“We had been looking to start our own business, and with Lesha’s knowledge of the real estate market, it seemed like a great fit,” Holmes said.
Although they had no prior publishing background, the couple believed in the product and saw a need for it in the Columbia area.
Hageman’s and Holmes’ roles in the business have changed dramatically since they began. They started by producing only The Real Estate Book and doing everything from sales to production to distribution themselves. Now they produce other books, including the Missouri Auto Guide and the Apartment Finder, in mid-Missouri, Springfield and northeastern Kansas. They also have 12 full-time employees and create special projects including broker books, brochures and the Columbia Visitor’s Guide, which they help sell, design and distribute for the Mid-Missouri Tourism Council.
Hageman’s job is to work directly with The Real Estate Book customers, who are mostly realtors and their affiliates. She gathers the information customers want to be included in the book, and then she works with graphic artists to make sure that the customer’s advertisements are correctly portrayed. She also helps manage the distribution of the book. Working closely with the customers and staff and the variety of her work are only a few of Hageman’s favorite parts of her job.
“The best part is when customers give us positive feedback and we know that we have helped contribute to their success,” Hageman said.
Holmes described the business as niche advertising — it sells, designs and distributes specialty ads to satisfy people’s needs.
“People pick up our magazines for the specific products they contain, whether it is homes, cars, apartments or hotels,” Holmes said.
Maximum Media is a team-oriented business, and Hageman and Holmes credited much of their success to their team. Each job is important, they said, and if one of their members is unable to do his or her job, the rest of the team pulls together to make sure it gets done. Hageman said the business has forced her to apply everything she has learned in college and more. With its variety of tasks and the unforeseeable problems and opportunities it includes, owning your own business is a learning experience, she said.
“What an eye-opener!” Hageman said. “Working on my own business has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my adult life.”