A Solid Foundation in the Granite State

by Phil Dean

One of the best decisions we’ve ever made over the course of our 25-year history was to move Qessential to the great state of New Hampshire.  In 1997, I took the helm of what was to become Qessential Medical, and one year later transplanted the business clear across the country—moving from southern California to southern New Hampshire. We went from Orange County, CA (population 3 million) to Rockingham County, NH (population 300,000) and have never looked back. 


When we first arrived in Exeter, we met with a man who had office space for rent and then went to a local pizza parlor for dinner.  As we were sitting in the pizza parlor, a young man behind the counter leaned over and pushed a telephone at me and said, “This is for you.”  It was the office building owner calling to finalize the deal.  Later the young man explained that he knew who I was because he knew everyone else in the restaurant.  The building owner knew where to find us because there were so few pizza parlors in Exeter that he was able to guess where we would be.  The entire episode was a warm and welcoming initiation to how things are done in small-town New England!

We selected New Hampshire originally for the business fundamentals:  proximity to customers and potential customers, business climate, and quality of life.  Boston, just 50 miles away, is a major center of the medical technology industry and, as Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”  We knew this was the area we wanted to show up in.


But we discovered something more in this quaint mix of charming New England towns and idyllic countryside.  We discovered less social isolation and a higher level of social cohesion than we had experienced in southern California.  The dynamics of social capital described by Robert Putnam in his book “Bowling Alone” were on full display in that pizza parlor exchange.  People in New Hampshire are more connected.  That connectedness strengthens an individual’s trust and commitment to the group or business.  It is not unusual to see your work colleagues at the market, church, or at school with the kids.


When people here take on a job, they are doing more than simply trading their time for a paycheck.  They are joining a team of people who think about the team as well as their own place in it. Qessential has benefitted greatly from this cohesiveness as the talent and intellectual capital of the firm has grown tremendously over the last 15 years.  And the quality of our research, our reporting, and our insights has grown right along with it.  Late last year, I received an email from a client that simply said, “Your team rocks!” An apt accolade for a firm located in the Granite State, I thought! So, next time you are in New England, come to Exeter for a visit and learn what’s so special about our home…and why our client was right.

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