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A conversation with Bonnie Tharp

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 11:33 p.m.

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Bonnie Tharp’s children were her inspiration for starting her own company more than two decades ago.

Tharp had worked for a variety of businesses, including a couple of advertising agencies, before starting Copp Media to plan and buy media for clients.

The flexibility of working from home and working around her children’s schedules appealed to Tharp. She moved her company, which has nine employees, to the Stables at 322 S. Mosley in 2012.

Today, Tharp’s three grown children, Marc Zwygart, Marcie Zwygart and Nicole Copp, all work at Copp Media.

As you were growing up, did you know what you might like to become?

You know, I still don’t know what I want to become. I think you turn opportunities into more opportunities. … I think nobody knows when they’re 25. … I think we just kind of grow into what we are, what makes us happy.

How did you begin your career?

I got married very young and had children and really … started my career after I divorced. … That marriage ended, a new life began.

Being a newly single mother is a difficult time to begin a career, isn’t it?

You do what you have to do. It goes back to, you know, you look for opportunities in what you’re dealt and grow from there.

What was your early career like?

I worked the worst job of my life. … I had a job that motivated me to do more.

What led you to eventually start your own company?

This is going to sound crazy. I was really motivated to spend more time and (be) more flexible with my kids. I wanted to be able to know what they were doing after school and be able to go to things without feeling guilty. I started the business out of my house 21 years ago, and it’s grown.

Why media planning and buying?

It’s what I was good at. I’m a great planner. I’m a great outside-the-box thinker. I like to look at things at all angles … and not doing just what people expect you to do. … I think I have an understanding on a bigger picture than just buying a spot on television. … There’s just more to it. I’ve always said anybody can place an ad. … It’s important to understand the customer’s audience and what motivates them to purchase. … How many times do they have to see or be exposed to your message? Some things it’s three times. Sometimes it’s 50 times, and it wouldn’t make a difference.

Has the business changed much through the years?

Oh, my gosh. Everything’s changed.

Particularly the technology?

A 286 was the only computer. … That’s all anybody (thought we) would ever need. … When you think how far we’ve come. … We didn’t have Internet. … We did research at the library.

Is your job harder or easier now?

More complicated. … because the fragmentation of audiences is so incredibly diverse. People get their messages from all kinds of mediums.

Anything keep you up at night?

Oh, everything keeps me up at night. You know, just making sure that every client feels like they have our full attention. Just making sure that everyone’s taken care of. … Our philosophy is … every client should feel like they’re our only client, and if we make you feel that way, then we’re doing our job.

What’s it like being a mother in addition to the boss of three of your employees?

During the work day, I’m not mom. I’m the boss. I mean, they work just like everybody else works.

What’s one thing few people know about you?

I cannot go to a movie without falling asleep. When I stop, I stop. That’s me. I can’t watch TV. I fall asleep. If I stop, I’m done.

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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