Market research was a new field when Al Orman founded Orman Guidance in 1975. Research was something that was done in a lab, “focus groups” were the latest buzzword, and advertisers did not understand social research.
Al managed focus groups for another firm and worked with facilities across the country, but he knew he could do market research better: more reliably, with more engaged consumers and more useful results. He made sure his own company set a high standard for consumer insights, and he demanded that clients meet that standard, too. To some of them, he says, his expectations were “a pain in the ass.”
Over the years, Orman Guidance has conducted consumer insights studies that influenced products from microwave ovens to cereal flavors to e-books. Over time, we’ve enhanced our work with new technologies — like the video conferencing that dazzled the office in the ’90s — and we plan to continue bringing new innovations into the industry. We’ve maintained a commitment to quality and to the people we work with, including turning away market research studies from tobacco companies and other industries that harm consumers.
In 1988, Orman Guidance hired Rosemary Sundin for an entry-level position. Rosemary was a single mother at the time, raising two small children on a part-time salary. Al Orman respected her determination in asking questions and tracking down answers, and in 2001 she became president and CEO.
Rosemary saw the same potential for leadership in Rico Mace, who joined the company in 2014. Rico’s perseverance and attention to detail were influenced by his time serving overseas in the U.S. Navy, where he was badly wounded. “From that time forward, I had a completely different mindset: the perseverance and the strength to do anything, and to remember that everything I’ve done since that day has never been as hard as that,” Rico says. Less than a year after he joined Orman Guidance, Rico became CEO and joined Rosemary as a partner in the company.
Now in our fifth decade, we’re still raising the standard for the marketing research industry. We still look to the words Al Orman wrote as he launched Orman Guidance in 1975:
“I feel that we have a specialized consumer research capability that is second to none in its field. It brings together experienced moderating, professional analysis, and a fully equipped facility with the flexibility to meet any client needs. It is, in my opinion, the qualitative research service that has been needed but was not heretofore available in the U.S.”