When you think of TAS Marketing, the thought comes to mind of a husband-and-wife team, Steve and Christine Michaels, who have been serving this industry since 1979. Known then as TAS Consultants, they sold all types of ancillary equipment such as the ACI remote printer, TAStrix, the AVI training system, and a DC-7 billing system.
To really know your customers, Steve and Chris felt that they had to meet them face-to-face by travelling to every state or attending all the ATSI conventions and regional meetings. “I have seen a lot over the years but seeing the birth of a baby lamb in Joanne Milton’s kitchen up in Maine topped the list,” says Steve.
Getting to know these people created a family of sorts and Steve is usually the one they call when bubbles are stirring in the industry. Steve has taken out several individuals who were scamming his classified clients out of equipment and in some cases an entire service. With Mr. Michaels help and the FBI, these individuals are now behind bars.
Raymond Baggarly said, “Every time I see Steve, he has a new system, product, or business for sale . . . and at seventy-three he is still working; wish I had his energy and inspiration.” His other job is tending to the Hobbits and running the trolls off, when necessary, along with being the curator of his new photographic art gallery.
The brokering segment of the business came about when RJ Chaffee, the broker at the time passed away. Steve called RJ’s son who is also named RJ, to see if he was going to take over for his dad. RJ said he wasn’t. Thus, a new business was born. TAS Marketing has sold over 500 services in over forty years. Steve had been called him the ”answering service expert” by the Business Reference Guide.
Steve first got his feet wet when he started an answering service himself. He charged $145 for an 8-5 service, Monday through Friday. No weekends. Not knowing what others were charging, they were getting a premium even in 1986.
Besides selling equipment, the Michaels helped spearhead and start ATMS (Association of TeleMessaging Suppliers) and presented several TAS Conventions hosted by the vendors. The first keynote speaker was the noted Dr. Norman Vincent Peale who packed the convention hall with a standing ovation.
Steve and Chris moved several times from Palo Alto to Ft. Bragg, CA. They moved to Colorado for two years and ended in Montana where they live on a 100-acre ranch and offer a world-renowned getaway called “The Shire of Montana.”
Steve mentioned that he is now working with the kids of parents he sold equipment to many years ago. “If he did such a good job selling my equipment then,” said one satisfied client, “then I trust him to sell my answering service [now].”
Some TAS owners have the foresight to provide Steve’s phone number and email address to their CPA and attorney in case of an accident or sudden death, which happened to an individual in Illinois while out jogging. His estate left instruction regarding liquidating the business, alleviating that extra burden from his wife.
Mr. Michaels was also the founder and publisher of the Connections magazine for ten years until selling it to its current owner.
Starting out as TAS Consultants, Steve attended his first trade show in New Orleans with a new briefcase (he still has it today) and a tape recorder where he interviewed all the vendors and compiled a book entitled, The TAS Equipment Analysis Report. The book gave those with switchboards an idea of how the computerized equipment worked. At the time, 87 percent of the industry used the old dependable cordboard from Ma bell. Moving to new technology was a big step for these answering services.
TAS Marketing’s vision to put buyers and sellers came together in a very fruitful way since Mr. Michaels knows most of the sellers in the industry and can make the transaction a win-win experience.