Gwen Vryhof Bultema, left, and Jillian Lambert became business owners in May 2011 and changed the firm's name in July 2012. Photo by Johnny Quirin
Professional Marketing was a nationally known Grand Rapids-based business for almost 30 years, owned and operated by Diane Carnevale Jones and active across the country. It had famous clients including the likes of Marie Osmond, who turned to Jones for help marketing her Marie Osmond Collectors Dolls.
The Professional Marketing firm is gone now, but there is a direct descendant with a different name: Bultema Lambert Communications.
“Professional Marketing was run very similar to Bultema Lambert in that we are a boutique PR agency, so we’re really involved in every element” of its clients’ businesses, from day-to-day marketing tasks to new business development, said Gwen Vryhof Bultema.
Bultema and Jillian Lambert both worked for Jones at Professional Marketing — Lambert since 2007 and Bultema, on a full-time basis, since 2008. Actually, Bultema, 27, had begun working at Professional Marketing first. A Chicago native, she came to Grand Rapids to attend Calvin College and landed a summer job at Professional Marketing the following year. That turned into a three-year summer job, lasting through her years at Calvin. When she graduated in 2008, Bultema went home and landed a job at a big PR firm in downtown Chicago — but that actually turned out to be yet another summer job, of sorts.
“I eventually decided Grand Rapids was really home,” said Bultema, so she came back to West Michigan that fall and “Diane took me back,” she said.
Both Bultema and Lambert, 30, were account executives at Professional Marketing, each with their own clients.
“We had a pretty good understanding of what it would take to run the business, even at that time,” said Bultema.
After nearly three decades, Jones was ready to do something else, so she ended up selling the business to Bultema and Lambert in May 2011. Bultema said she and Lambert continued to operate Professional Marketing under that name, before re-launching it as Bultema Lambert Communications in July 2012.
Jones had built Professional Marketing into a readily recognized name in the gifts and home décor industries, and was executive director of the Collectors’ Information Bureau. She had a knack for creating events at the CIB’s 24 showrooms across the country, and Professional Marketing was adept at placements of clients’ product publicity in trade publications.
The re-launch included a new name, new look, new tagline, new website and new services, including an expansion into graphic design. The restructure of its operations is focused on key services that serve both current and future clients: editorial (print materials, copywriting, website copy); events management (idea generation, logistics, speaker arrangements); media (editorial outreach, media relations, crisis management); marketing tools (newsletters, brochures, event materials); and research (focus groups, surveys, audits).
The firm occupies two niches, according to Bultema. “First is the gift and home industry. Diane left us with a really solid foundation in that industry.” The new firm still has some clients that were Professional Marketing clients, such as Woodstock Chimes in Vermont, the Gift and Home Trade Association based in Georgia, and C. Jere Artisan House in Connecticut.
Both women, with three part-time support staff helping out in the office, often travel on behalf of those clients to represent them at major trade shows around the nation where they meet with trade publication editors.
The second niche occupied by Bultema Lambert “is really this local market,” said Bultema. That’s where some other important clients come in, including First Companies, Mel Trotter Ministries and Friendship Ministries.
First Companies, a combination construction company, real estate brokerage, commercial developer and property manager, is closely aligned with Bultema Lambert. It is based at 4380 Brockton Drive SE, just off 44th Street, and that is also where Bultema Lambert’s offices are.