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January 2010
Digital Communication
By Casey Jacobus

     Lou Amico grew up on Long Island and spent twenty-five years in the New York corporate world before moving to Lake Norman in 2004. He brought with him 25 years of experience in marketing and managing small businesses, founding L.A. Management Company, LLC to offer strategic marketing, video production, Web development, Internet marketing and event production for small businesses in the Charlotte area and across the country.

     “I know how to run a business and market it,” says Amico. “I can look at what a company needs strategically and help optimize its business growth.”

 

Accumulating Experience

     While attending college in Pennsylvania, Amico worked on a horse farm. The owner liked his work ethic and later hired him to manage one of his medical offices in New York. Amico founded his first company in 1982 to provide marketing and management services to the medical industry. Over the years, Amico used his acquired skills in advertising, graphic design and copy writing to create informational brochures, newsletters, magazine and newspaper ads for clients.

     As the world of information technology grew during the 1990s, Amico’s services also expanded. He launched several successful national and regional television campaigns for cosmetic and medical services. He eventually began producing long-form infomercials for broadcast TV. By the end of the decade, Amico was brought on as president to run a successful video production company in New York.

     Then the planes hit the World Trade Center towers and business in New York came to a standstill.

     “For at least six months after 9/11, a lot of the biggest companies we worked with were terrified to communicate,” says Amico. “Everything just stopped. Companies weren’t starting any new initiatives or planning any corporate events. Meanwhile, we were carrying a large facility with big equipment and personnel costs.”

     The hiatus provided by 9/11 gave Amico an opportunity to take a hard look at his own life and career. He knew that broadband Internet made it possible for him to work anywhere in the world. He also realized that he wanted to do more than video production work. As he approached his 50th birthday, he began to understand that he wanted to have a larger role in the strategic decisions and marketing planning of his future clients. It was time for a change.

     Amico met Joe Zammit doing video production work in New York. Zammit, a musician and audio engineer, was doing programming technology, corporate staging and camera work. He complemented Amico’s skills well.

     “I’m the storyteller,” says Amico, “and Joe makes our productions look pretty. He is the real talent behind our video production work.”

     Fortuitously, both Amico and Zammit had ties to the Charlotte area. So when Zammit was also willing to move south, Amico left the production company and their 10,000-square-foot facility in New York with his $150,000 editing suites and $85,000 DigiBeta cameras to build a home/office on property he already owned in Westport on Lake Norman.

     Today, he and Zammit can do as much with $15,000 of hardware, camera equipment and software, and do it faster, than they could in New York and save their clients money at the same time.

     “Scale is no limitation,” asserts Amico. “With broadband, we are able to communicate with our clients anywhere in the country, present or review projects, train staff and deliver media. Our network of contractors allows us to expand our capacity instantly if the project requires more than we can do in-house. The key is having the knowledge to manage it.”

 

Building Alliances

     The Charlotte business community embraced L.A. Management. Amico’s style meshes perfectly with the open and welcoming business environment in the Charlotte area. He has always been willing to put the effort into building relationships in a community that demands hard work and genuine communications.

     “We all love Lou,” declares Patricia Golden, president of My Team of Experts, Inc. “He puts forth 200 percent effort and does a perfect job every time.”

     Amico began by joining the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club. He seized every opportunity to make himself as visible as possible. He interviewed 25 CEO’s of Information Technology companies in two weeks to produce the Blue Diamond Awards nominations videos for the Charlotte Chamber.

     He worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina, the Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council and UNC Charlotte’s Continuing Education programs. It didn’t matter whether it was a local nonprofit agency or a medical client in California, Amico was willing to get involved with his clients and to provide them with valuable services.

     “I never did anything for free,” reports Amico, “but I was always open to trade or other opportunities that would get us exposure.”

     Amico was also looking for opportunities that would go beyond the marketing aspects of a job. In this second opportunity to make his career, he wanted to dig deeper and make more of an impact on his clients’ businesses.

     “We decided early on that we wanted to be a value company rather than a product company. When we work with a client, our approach is that we are a partner. We analyze the client’s needs the way we would if we owned their company. We don’t sell products like videos or Web sites; we provide solutions based on the specific client needs and budget.”

     L.A. Management has built a relationship with Charlotte-based CoaLogix that exemplifies Amico’s vision. CoaLogix, a leader in catalyst regeneration and other environmentally friendly technologies for coal-fired power plants, needed a video for a trade show. In an online search for video production companies, CoaLogix found and contacted Amico. L.A. Management produced the video and then revamped CoaLogix’s Web site.

     “Our approach is to ask: Why do you want to produce a video? How will it be delivered? How can we maximize its investment and distribution? These questions lead us to a more in-depth conversation about their goals and challenges.”

     In September, CoalLogix was chosen as one of the GoingGreen Top 100 Winners by AlwaysOn for major developments in the creation of new business opportunities in the green technology industries.

     In addition to Web site development, L.A. Management offers clients, including CoaLogix, SEO marketing, or Search Engine Optimization. This is the process of optimizing a Web site to rank higher in the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

     From a marketing perspective, Web sites are more valuable if they appear on page one of the search engine’s listings, where customers can find them most easily. L.A. Management has developed programs to strategically raise a company’s Web site visibility to its target audience.

     A partial list of the clients with which L.A. Management works in the region illustrates the diversity of industries and projects the company handles. L.A. Management has produced videos and events for La Noticia, Charlotte’s Spanish language newspaper, and the Charlotte International Cabinet, the Charlotte region’s leading resource for promoting international business and international communities.

     It has produced a promotional trade show video for High Point-based AppleRock Displays, a company which itself produces trade show displays. It has produced a driver safety video for AAA Carolinas, a process efficiency video for Lumberton-based Global Packaging, and promotional and how-to videos for Charlotte-based Bonsal American, a leading manufacturer of packaged building materials and pavement maintenance products for both commercial and residential construction.

     L.A. Management has done Web development, SEO marketing development and e-mail marketing for Hood Hargett & Associates, an independent insurance agency in Charlotte, as well as e-mail marketing for the local franchise of Massage Envy and Web site development and SEO for Automated Shredding, a Charlotte-based company providing mobile document shredding services.

     It has produced trade show videos for Matthews-based International Construction Equipment, the largest manufacturer of pile driving and drilling equipment in North America, and videos for the Web site of Sitetec Construction Company, a Charlotte-based commercial construction company specializing in multi-family interior and exterior renovation and fire restoration.

     Additionally, L.A. Management serves clients across the country, including NASA in Houston, producing an award-winning video for the Kennedy Launch Academy Simulation System (KLASS).

     A significant portion of L.A. Management’s clients are medical practices, several of which Amico has helped from start-up to successful practice. These include Charlotte-based Piedmont Plastic Surgery and Dermatology; Chester County (Pennsylvania) Otolaryngology and Allergy Associates; Milwaukee-based Clinic of Cosmetic Surgery; Austin, Texas-based McGrath Medical and McGrath Cosmetic; and Dr. Sara Wasserbauer, who provides medical hair restoration services in Walnut Creek, California.

 

Establishing Credibility

     L.A. Management won four Telly Awards at the 2009 judging of the annual best in local, regional and national commercials and video and film productions, bringing its total to 10 Tellys earned in the past three years. This year’s awards were for its NASA video, as well as videos produced for Piedmont Plastic Surgery & Dermatology and The Charlotte Chamber. The fourth award was a Multimedia Award for their Demo Reel CD-Rom.

     People sometimes mistake the “LA” in L.A. Management as standing for Los Angeles, but of course it stands for Lou Amico. And, the company reflects Amico’s personal style of doing business. Amico claims to have never made a single “cold call.” Instead, he has built his young company on networking and referrals. Eighty percent of L.A. Management’s business is in ongoing support for existing clients. Amico particularly enjoys developing relationships with Charlotte’s corporate leaders.

     Bob Korkos, president of Automated Shredding, started his new company in Charlotte a few years ago and credits L.A. Management for positioning his company Web site on page one for most of the major keywords.

     “Lou Amico is so well connected here in Charlotte; he really helped introduce us to the right people when we first came to town. Our business has grown through relationships and the Internet and L.A. Management has been an integral part of our success,” says Korkos.

     Amico enjoys the Lake Norman lifestyle. Since Zammit also lives on the lake in Mooresville, Amico often commutes to Zammit’s home on his boat to edit video projects. He also entertains clients on the lake, taking them to lunch on the water.

     Amico expects L.A. Management to thrive over the next few years. In fact, he expects to be able to keep his home and office under one roof for only another year or two. He anticipates more employees, more clients and expanded services.

     “You have to grow; you can’t not grow,” he says. “The Internet is an ever expanding opportunity and we are helping our clients transition from traditional media. We work very hard to support all aspects of our clients’ online initiatives.”

     And, being Amico, he looks forward to the next step. He’s eager to nurture future employees to become project managers, freeing him to expand the company’s services.

Casey Jacobus is a Lake Norman-based freelance writer.
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