Roger Blackwell

Roger Blackwell, Ph.D., is an American marketing expert, well-recognized in his field, and an international public speaker.

Fee Range: $ $10,000 - $15,000

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In his early years, Roger lived on a farm near King City, Missouri before moving to Maryville, where he attended high school and began college at Northwest Missouri State University, majoring in history and planning on law school. When he transferred to the University of Missouri, Columbia, he became hooked on the study of marketing, receiving B.S. and M.S. degrees and teaching his first marketing course as a graduate student. Offered fellowships for doctoral studies at Wharton, Harvard and Northwestern, he chose Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, where he received his Ph.D. and taught marketing courses on the Chicago campus of Northwestern. His doctoral program focused on five areas: Economics, Marketing, Psychology, Business History and Quantitative Methods. It was a multi-disciplinary program; the foundation for research on the new, emerging field called Consumer Behavior, later called Behavioral Economics.

His career as an entrepreneur began in his early years. At age eight, his mother said, “Would you like a job?” His response was, “That sounds like fun,” and, with the help of his mother, Roger began selling greeting cards to neighbors, friends and relatives. By the age of 12, that business grew to an annual income as much as the fathers of some of his school friends. At age 16, with a loan from the Nodaway Valley Bank, where he became friends with the President while depositing savings every week from the greeting card business, Roger bought a house, using rental income to make the payments.  Selling the house years later for several times its purchase price and the mortgage paid off, Roger used that money to finance his Ph.D. with enough left over for the down payment on his first home in Columbus, Ohio, after taking a position as Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University.

Roger worked full-time while also attending school full-time, starting as a junior in high school. He moved from selling greeting cards to selling clothes in a men’s clothing store and groceries in the local IGA store. He also became a volunteer disc jockey for his high school’s weekly program on the local radio station. Roger became intrigued with broadcasting and approached the station manager with an offer to sweep the floors and empty trash each day in exchange for learning the radio business.  The station manager thought about it and replied, “Good idea, but you don’t have to work for free. I’ll pay you fifty cents an hour.”

The plan worked, and Roger progressed from janitor to disc jockey, to advertising salesperson, and after earning his FCC First Class Radiotelephone license , eventually becoming Chief (and only) Engineer at KNIM in Maryville. From KNIM, he was hired by KFEQ and KFEQ-TV in nearby St. Joseph as an on-air personality and TV weatherman. All while attending high school and college full-time. When he transferred to the University of Missouri in Columbia, he began another phase of his media career—in the circulation department of the Missourian. Learning the practical side of advertising—both broadcast and print—lured him to switch from a history major and law school to marketing and business school.

When he arrived at The Ohio State University, fresh from the doctoral program at Northwestern, Roger began a forty-year career of teaching, research, and speaking to business groups.  Mostly he taught Marketing Research to undergraduate students and Quantitative Methods to MBA students, but he also taught Marketing Management and Business Policy. With Professors James Engel and David Kollat, Roger began team teaching a Ph.D. seminar called “Consumer Behavior.” It was one of the earliest of a hand-full of universities teaching the course, and resulted in Engel, Kollat and Blackwell writing their first textbook, Consumer Behavior. Consumer Behavior is in its tenth edition, translated into multiple languages and used by business organizations and universities throughout the world. He also wrote or co-authored more than twenty-five other books and research reports while an OSU professor.

At Ohio State, Roger taught over 65,000 students, teaching marketing courses in strategy, retailing, advertising, research, international marketing, and e-commerce. Drawing on his study of cross-cultural methodology and concern for civil rights and disadvantaged groups, Roger also pioneered business courses in Black Studies. Based on his doctoral dissertation, Roger developed a course on Thanatology—the study of death. His knowledge and experience in the marketing of professional services evolved into research and teaching health care marketing with a joint appointment as Professor in the College of Medicine at Ohio State, as well as Professor in the Fisher College of Business.

At age 29, Roger was elected to the Board of Directors of the Alexander Hamilton Life Insurance Company in Detroit. Over the years, he served on fourteen public boards and numerous private ones, some becoming public corporations such as CheckFree (now Fiserv). He became Director and largest shareholder of Max & Erma’s Restaurants, participating in its growth from seven stores to over 100.  Roger considers the “hobby” of growing small firms into large ones as much fun as some people find golf or football.

The most traumatic time of Roger’s life began in 1999 when Worthington Foods, on whose board he served, was discussing a possible merger with Kellogg and other firms. During the time the merger was considered, the stock price of Worthington dropped to half its value and 6,000 people bought shares, including hundreds of friends, family and associates of Worthington directors and employees. Two included an employee of Roger’s consulting firm and her husband, who bought additional shares in their IRA accounts. Roger and they were convicted of insider trading. Roger was also convicted of making a false statement to a federal agency, because he stated he was innocent.  Roger made nothing on the purchases, but received a six-year prison sentence and a fine of one million dollars. Throughout this process and continuing today, Roger maintains his innocence, believing his policy of not commenting about firms on boards he served was the legally, morally and ethically correct response to people who asked about the company.

Roger considers the experience and time in prison to be redemptive. He was a person of faith for many prior years, but his faith matured from one of defending God, to depending on God. His time was spent teaching GED courses to fellow inmates, giving them hope for a better future with a better education. He found teaching GED courses a rewarding experience because of the help and hope he gave others, and because it improved his ability to be succinct and relevant when teaching and speaking to audiences of any background.

Today, Roger is busy teaching, writing, speaking and serving on private boards of directors. He donates time speaking to churches and community service organizations and lecturing on college campuses. He is also involved in prison re-entry programs and organizations dedicated to helping disadvantaged persons and families.

Most of Roger’s time is devoted to being Principal of Blackwell Business Advisors, where he works primarily with small and mid-sized firms, helping with strategies and marketing to improve profitability and growth. He serves on the advisory boards of some of these firms and as a “sounding board” for many others, and serves as marketing consultant to the Columbus law firm of Cooper & Elliott and its automotive practice, Auto Law Ohio.

Programs

Roger Blackwell gave his first paid speech at age 22, to State Farm Insurance agents while still a graduate student in Columbia, Missouri. Since then, he has given several thousand speeches, but never two the same. He works with basic themes and outlines, molding each presentation to the audience after consultation with the organizer to be sure his content fits the needs and interests of attendees.  Roger draws on his diverse experience in diverse sectors to customize content, causing a typical response, “I am so glad to hear a speaker who knows our industry.” This approach has placed him in front of audiences in retailing, wholesaling, software and computer firms, banking and financial services, e-commerce organizations, educational institutions, agricultural and mining firms, and manufacturers of varied products. He has spoken to automobile dealers and manufacturers, high-tech firms such as IBM and Intel, funeral service firms, hospitals and health care firms, insurance companies, and government organizations at both the state and federal level. Clients range from small firms in YPO, EO and Vistage organizations to the world’s largest including AT&T, South African Breweries, and Walmart. He is equally at ease with audiences of elementary and secondary students, university students, religious and community organizations, CEOs, marketing experts and Ph.Ds.

Although his very-visual presentations are usually in English, his understanding of other languages allows him to choose vocabulary and phrases that translate easily. When speaking through interpreters, he likes to meet them ahead of the speech to be comfortable translating technical terms, idioms and humor. He has spoken in nations as diverse as Bangladesh and Japan, Brazil and Peru, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Germany and Spain, Israel and South Africa, the U.S. and Canada and others on six continents. (He is still hoping for an invitation to speak in Antarctica!)

Every speech is developed after understanding the needs and interests of the client and the audience, but the following are representative topics frequently presented by Roger Blackwell:

  • The Future of the Economy: What’s Really Going On?
  • Three Principles that Help Entrepreneurs Grow Small Firms into Large Fortunes
  • Building Brands that Rock
  • High Performance Marketing
  • Converting Supply Chains into Demand Chains
  • Consumer Driven Health Care
  • Values-Based Customer Service in a Digital Economy

 

At age 29, Roger was elected to the Board of Directors of the Alexander Hamilton Life Insurance Company in Detroit. Over the years, he served on fourteen public boards and numerous private ones, some becoming public corporations such as CheckFree (now Fiserv). He became Director and largest shareholder of Max & Erma’s Restaurants, participating in its growth from seven stores to over 100.  Roger considers the “hobby” of growing small firms into large ones as much fun as some people find golf or football.

The most traumatic time of Roger’s life began in 1999 when Worthington Foods, on whose board he served, was discussing a possible merger with Kellogg and other firms. During the time the merger was considered, the stock price of Worthington dropped to half its value and 6,000 people bought shares, including hundreds of friends, family and associates of Worthington directors and employees. Two included an employee of Roger’s consulting firm and her husband, who bought additional shares in their IRA accounts. Roger and they were convicted of insider trading. Roger was also convicted of making a false statement to a federal agency, because he stated he was innocent.  Roger made nothing on the purchases, but received a six-year prison sentence and a fine of one million dollars. Throughout this process and continuing today, Roger maintains his innocence, believing his policy of not commenting about firms on boards he served was the legally, morally and ethically correct response to people who asked about the company.

Roger considers the experience and time in prison to be redemptive. He was a person of faith for many prior years, but his faith matured from one of defending God, to depending on God. His time was spent teaching GED courses to fellow inmates, giving them hope for a better future with a better education. He found teaching GED courses a rewarding experience because of the help and hope he gave others, and because it improved his ability to be succinct and relevant when teaching and speaking to audiences of any background.

Today, Roger is busy teaching, writing, speaking and serving on private boards of directors. He donates time speaking to churches and community service organizations and lecturing on college campuses. He is also involved in prison re-entry programs and organizations dedicated to helping disadvantaged persons and families.

Most of Roger’s time is devoted to being Principal of Blackwell Business Advisors, where he works primarily with small and mid-sized firms, helping with strategies and marketing to improve profitability and growth. He serves on the advisory boards of some of these firms and as a “sounding board” for many others, and serves as marketing consultant to the Columbus law firm of Cooper & Elliott and its automotive practice, Auto Law Ohio.

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