Grant aids Fairmount Group expansion

Dawn Hanson, The Fairmount Group

Entrepreneur Dawn Hanson’s company, The Fairmount Group, will be going global with much greater ease because of a grant from British Airways.

Fairmount group received one of the 100 Business Opportunity grants given out by British Airways. It will enable Hanson to travel to Europe, meet with clients and expand her business from her small office in Cleveland Heights to cities in Finland and Denmark. The company conducts market research, manages brands and plans special events.

The grant includes airfare for 10 round-trip business class flights, fiveglobal shipments with British Airways World Cargo and $1,000 in hotel accommodations at Courtyard by Marriott.

While Hanson said the company embraces modern communications technology, one aspect of its success is its commitment to face-to-face connections. The grant will enable them to focus on building relationships with clients.

“A lot of clients I deal with are facing a change or a challenge,” she said. “They share proprietary information and there are non-verbal cues that go along withthat. You can’t see all that on Skype. It’s a trust issue; people need to get to know you interpersonally.”

The British Airways grant is part of a campaign promoting such meetings in international business. Hanson said the company has been planning to expand business to Europe for years. Team members have worked in England, Finland, Denmark and Germany before, and familiarity with local languages and culture gives them an advantage.

Hanson recently set up meetings with eight prospective clients at companies in Finland, although the volcanic ash from Iceland delayed her trip.

Hanson earned a public relations degree and thought she would spend her career shaking hands and attending important meetings. She worked in communications for a private hospital in her hometown of Shreveport, La., and then in corporate communications for a bank in Washington, D.C.

After that, she moved to Finland with her husband, Olli Patrikainen, and worked for an oil company. For four years, she served as vice president of corporate communications for a firm in Denmark. 

Along the way, she realized she wanted more. “I just got the itch that I’d like to start my own business,” she said.“I wanted to work with clients who share my values – education, diversity, women’s issues, the environment.

At The Fairmount Group, she works closely with graphic designers and public relations professionals to provide marketing services for clients including Microsoft, the Cleveland Council on World Affairs and the University ofHelsinki.

One of her company’s specialties is teaming with independent safety and security experts to develop crisis action plans.

She has worked for a petrochemicals company and a bank to help determine what emergency actions would be taken in the event of an explosion or a robbery. She has also worked with schools to devise safety plans in the event of a shooting. Hanson said the company also writes comprehensive plans to communicate what has happened.

Right now, she is ‘flying’ with the affirmation of getting the grant.

“It’s a wonderful vote of confidence from British Airways that they understand myvision and believe I can do it,” she said.

Kelli Fontenot is a journalist living in Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 11:17 PM, 04.22.2010