NaVOBA – Don’t Mock Me

Army veterepeneur builds leading provider of mock trials and other research services.

by Michael Crawford

EVER FEEL LIKE YOU’RE MAKING a decision without all the facts? Feel like you’re walking into a meeting blindfolded? Many do. Fortunately, there’s a veteran-owned business working to keep those things from happening to you. That business is Strategic Research Associates (SRA), and former Army Chief Warrant Officer Dean Moorehouse, SRA president, is ready to prove it.DeanVA

Based in Spokane, Wash., SRA conducts market research – surveys (telephone, mail and online), focus groups, interviews, mock trials and interactive audience response testing – on behalf of government, education, manufacturing, media, utilities, health care, banking, retail and law enforcement organizations.

“In the professional/consulting business, you have to be patient as it takes a long time to establish a presence and following in the niches that hold the greatest promise for your organization,” Moorehouse said. “It’s diverse, it’s challenging, very few projects are the same, there’s opportunity for interaction with a broad variety of people, and with each project there is a meaningful outcome.”

Initially formed as a subsidiary of a larger company in 1996, Moorehouse helped grow SRA from its inception and bought it out in 2006 after the parent company lost interest. Now with 19 employees (full and part-time), Moorehouse estimates SRA will yield $500,000 in revenues for the 2008 fiscal year, a $37,287 jump over the 2007 revenues of $462,713.

“Even though I was capable of retiring, I felt that I had too much invested in the brand to walk away,” said Moorehouse, 67. “Walking away would also have meant abandoning some very talented people who want to work in this industry. “We are proud of the quality of our detailed but user-friendly reporting, our statistical expertise, our ability to work with clients in any field, and our ability to meet any deadline,” he said. “We also know how to correctly analyze results derived from complex sampling plans.”

Nationally, SRA is one of a handful of firms YMCA headquarters shares with local affiliates who need market research help. The company has developed a specialty in hosting and staging mock trials used by lawyers preparing cases for trial and has become one of the leading providers of mock trial services in the Northwest.

“Over the years, we have developed many strong relationships with prominent trial consultants on the West Coast,” Moorehouse said. “We attribute this success to nearly a decade of experience hosting and staging the sessions, both on and off-site, and rigorous screening of our recruits, making sure that we are always adhering to even the most difficult demographic quotas. Whether we are organizing a mock trial for medical malpractice or convening an audience testing focus group for the Department of Ecology, the project components and methodologies are identical.”Rig_s

Aside from business experience and an exceptional staff, Moorehouse attributes his time in the Army and National Guard as a crucial part of his success. In Vietnam, Moorehouse flew with the gun platoon of the 114th Aviation Assault Helicopter Company known as the Cobras, who became so well known their call sign was given to the Army’s first attack helicopter. In 1968, Moorehouse received the Army’s Outstanding Flight Instructor Award.

“My military experience taught me the value of good planning: thinking about all of the options, thinking about what could go wrong, the resources needed to get the job done and the team’s ownership and support in executing the plan,” Moorehouse said. “I often say that good plans have an enduring quality, like good architecture.”

Presently, Moorehouse plans to focus on marketing and developing the systems and transparency that will give SRA’s leadership the information needed to make timely and informed decisions across all of the organization’s major activities. Moorehouse hopes to identify VOB partners, let them know about SRA, its capabilities and its desire to partner on future projects.

“Tenacity is the key to staying on top,” Moorehouse said. “You need to work smart, but you also need to create a presence that tells your target audience that you’re going to be around for a long time. I think our company has the potential to become one of the western region’s premier research companies.”