A brief history of Fieldwork
1980 - First Fieldwork focus group facility is established in Chicago, IL
In 1980, Creative Research Associates, a marketing research firm in Chicago spawned by Saul Ben-Zeev, a pioneer in qualitative research, decided that it was time for focus group facilities to move out of suburban basements and into the world of business. That year they opened Chicagoland Field Services, the first of what was to become a premier chain of 15 focus group facilities scattered around the US: Fieldwork, Inc.
By today's standards that facility was modest, two suites with a small recruiting room and an even smaller office, but the concept was essentially complete. The hosting of qualitative research was no longer going to be a cottage industry. Everything from recruiting to viewing, show and tell, documentation and ambiance was designed by seasoned moderators with a business purpose in mind and a commitment to using the best of modern technologies and procedures to arrive at a productive research experience.
Since 1980, Fieldwork has grown horizontally and vertically. Here are a few milestones:
1980 – Chicagoland Field Services was opened on the north side of Chicago
Real food (and M&M's) were introduced to the back room replacing the ubiquitous deli tray replete with yesterday's array of fruits and meats. More importantly, recruiting shifted from asking some PTA moms to sit and chat for a bit, to soliciting cooperation from carefully qualified respondents drawn from a database representing the community at large.
1980-present – Fieldwork facilities go from beta to omicron
15 first class facilities in or adjacent to Atlanta, New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago (4), Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, and New York City. All facilities have been rebuilt at least once since their inception. All are regularly updated in terms of décor, technology and cheer. All are designed to shine natural light into conference rooms, viewing rooms and, subsequently, onto research objectives.
1994 – The Birth of Fieldwork Network
Fieldwork initiates a service of booking and managing multi-city projects for clients utilizing more than one Fieldwork facility.
By 2000 it becomes clear that such a service needs to include non-Fieldwork options to provide a true added value for clients. So, Fieldwork Network begins managing projects that aren’t exclusively done at our own facilities.
Shortly thereafter, (2001) we give the Fieldwork Network concept yet another horizontal leap by adding Fieldwork Network International, designed to book and manage projects for clients around the world. As of 2016, Fieldwork Network has managed more than 9000 projects in over 50 countries.
1996 – C&R creates NRC, a National Recruiting Center (née Quantwork)
The Quantwork division, a 50 seat CATI driven phone center, was originally designed to conduct surveys utilizing the most efficient method of the moment, computer assisted phone surveys. The centralized space also allowed Quantwork to assist in overflow recruiting for the Fieldwork facilities. As phone surveys were replaced by online survey methods, and need for national recruiting expanded, Quantwork shifted priorities from surveys to recruiting.
Quantwork was officially rebranded as the NRC (National Recruiting Center) in 2014. NRC today is focused largely on the recruitment of respondents for companies seeking precisely recruited, articulate respondents for any research methodology anywhere in the country.
2004 – C&R and Fieldwork Split
The decision was made for C&R and Fieldwork to split into two separate corporations with no common ownership.
Saul Ben-Zeev, Chairman and Founder of C&R, Steve Turner, President, Chris DeBrauw, Exec. VP, all three of whom are career-long qualitative practitioners, initially led the charge but are now retired-but-still-kibitzing (RBSK) partners. Steve Raebel, Exec. VP and Amy Gorlewski, VP at C&R also emigrated and are our current President and Executive VP as well as senior partners.
The new company was carefully structured so that each major operational entity within the Fieldwork family has a great deal of autonomy – harnessing local talent, hands-on management, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit – with sufficient cross-entity cohesion- to give clients the economies of scale that can only be achieved through a broadly based brand.
2009 -- Fieldwork’s online services emerge as Webwork
During our first 30 years of service, we have been presented with an ever changing array of research methodologies. At the center of this “Sea” of change has been the burgeoning of the Internet as a vehicle by which researchers can digitally explore peoples’ behaviors and attitudes.
With this in mind, Fieldwork created a platform for conducting qualitative (and hybrid quant/qual) research projects over the Internet. From the outset, Webwork was designed to provide an array of Internet-based services with “full service” support on projects from beginning to end.
But one of the things clients (and we) are learning as we wade deeper into the business of digitally gathering qualitative information, is that face-to-face research adds depth and color to what one can glean digitally. So, at the same time as we’ve been tasked with providing digital platforms, we’ve also been asked to find new ways of being flexible in taking face-to-face inquiries to “where the information resides.”
2012 Enter Fieldwork Anywhere.
Fieldwork Anywhere is a system by which Fieldwork arranges for and implements face-to-face qualitative work where clients need to have it even in locations where there are no focus group facilities suitable for the task. We like to think of it as Fieldwork-in-a-box where clients can concentrate on the substance of research while we take on the hard work of recruiting and hosting with precision and style.
As of 2016, Fieldwork Anywhere has hosted face-to-face projects in 90 cities and towns large and small across North America.
2014 - Four New Partners are named
Four dedicated and talented Fieldworkers are promoted to expand the leadership team:
Where we are now and where we are going
Fieldwork is, by any measure, a successful company. Our sales have grown steadily through the years, and are now higher than the combined revenue of both companies when we split.
Although Fieldwork is intent on continuing to expand its footprint in the business of fielding high quality marketing research, we expect to do so organically – one self-funded entity at a time – in an orderly pattern suited to the growing demands of our clients. We reward good employees throughout the system with opportunities to have their own piece of the action but are not afraid of cross-fertilization from other companies and industries as well. It is a strategy that has worked well for us thus far, and we believe it will carry us through for many years to come.