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Catalyst Marketing call center to open in the former Poet Ethanol space at 37th and Webb

WICHITA — Entrepreneur Tom Smith has proven the adage that necessity is the mother of invention, and it's resulting in a new call center at the former Poet Ethanol building at 37th and Webb.

In 2003, Smith started Alltite, a company that sells industrial bolting equipment and services to heavy industrial plants, like refineries and power plants.

In 2005, he started MobileCal, a mobile calibration lab he developed to service industrial equipment on site for customers in Wichita, Dallas, Houston and Atlanta.

But then Smith ran into a problem.

"The best way to sell mobile services is over the telephone, and I couldn't find a technically oriented business-to-industry outbound telemarketing center," Smith says.

He called around to others in his industry to see if they knew of anyone who provided that service.

"They all said: I don't know anybody, but that's a great idea, and if you find somebody, have them give me a call.

"Then a lightbulb just went off," Smith says. "There's obviously a market for this, so I'll just start one myself."

He's training employees now for Catalyst Marketing, a new call center at 9530 E. 37th St. North.

"It was initially just for my companies," Smith says.

But he's going to provide telemarketing services for other companies, too.

"We are just in the process of getting started," Smith says. "We've already got eight other companies for their services and products."

Initially, he'll have 15 employees, but the 10,000-square-foot building has the capacity for 56.

Smith hopes that one day that won't be enough space.

He has a 6-month lease.