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Gongos Research

2365 Pontiac Road
Auburn Hills, MI 48326

John Gongos

You described yourself as more of a market researcher who happens to own a business than an entrepreneur. What's the difference between the two?
Entrepreneurs have it in their blood. There is something exciting about starting a company and they will start multiple companies. That has never really entered my mind. My passion has always been marketing research since college, but I never wanted to start a market research company.

Does this mean anyone who is passionate about something can turn it into a business?
There are a lot of people who are passionate about what they're doing, but they might be more of an idea person than a manager or a leader. To have a successful business you need passion, but you need the right skills to lead a company, too.

So you need both business skills and passion?
You either need to do that or find someone who you can co-exist with.

You list your company's core values as "humanistic, intelligent, passionate, and pride." Sum up how those core values make your business successful?
The core values drive our company culture. The culture is the No. 1 reason why we have such high retention. People work and stay here because they say they love the people. What they're really saying is they love the culture because the people make up the culture.

Gongos Research has grown steadily over its 20 years. Is this a byproduct of hard work, focus and innovation or has there been a specific philosophy or idea that made this growth possible?
We have never had the goal of becoming a big company. Our goal has always been become better or become great. We have a lot of overachievers. When we become better or great at something, the business follows. There have been times when we had to control our growth. Last year we grew 30 percent when we probably could have grown 45 percent. We know if we grow too fast it's going to have negative long-term effects.

Gongos Research habitually hires interns. Your first intern is now your COO. What would you tell a business that wants to start an internship program but can never seem to find the time to get around to it?
If we can find talented interns it's going to help prepare them for life and we're going to get strong support at a lower cost than hiring a full-time employee. It's also a great way for us to screen the people who will shine in our environment. Our hiring success rate is so much higher when hiring people out of internships. There is only so much you can learn in an interview.

So hiring someone out of an interview is almost like making a cold call?
It feels that way. It feels like it's such a risk. Hiring is so expensive when you make a mistake.

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