Chris Willis resets Media 1 for growth



Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a profile of one of the Business Journal’s reigning 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. The profile first appeared in the event program.

Chris Willis, CEO of Media 1, knows full well a sputtering economy doesn’t entitle senior managers to rest on their laurels.

It’s taken every bit of influence and skill she possesses to drive her Grand Haven-based business, Media 1, to a successful rebound through the Great Recession. Her company’s revenue dropped from $1.6 million to $1.1 million at its lowest point. In 2011, she doubled that figure to $2.2 million through a complete repositioning of the company, bringing in new managers, consultants and sales leadership to partner with her in a completely retooled line of business that focuses on human capital improvement. All told, Willis oversees an operation with a budget of $2 million and 24 employees.

She realizes that rethinking Media 1’s business model must include her, requiring her to quickly adapt to new technology and designing new methodologies while honing advanced skills in marketing, research-based leadership and company finance.

Willis builds connections with the chamber of commerce, city officials and the Beachwood-Bluffton Neighborhood Association through her work, as well as interacting with 300-plus friends at Muskegon Dog Beach and at other community events.

Willis is a frequent speaker at workshops and conferences on topics including how to avoid making mistakes that prevent owners from taking their businesses to the next level, a new approach to problem solving, and learning to write content that works.

She is an active member of the chamber of commerce representing Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg, as well as the Lighthouse Quilt Guild.

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