AT Direct is an experienced, full-service communications resource for non-profits and other businesses in Baltimore, Md. Founded in 1987 by Judith E. “Judy” Antisdel, we offer a “one shop, one stop” service for all direct-mail needs — everything from strategic planning and graphic design to list management, printing, and delivery. We can help our customers develop a mailing strategy and transform it into a winning campaign, from start to finish. We can handle any sized job, from small-batch processing or automatic folding to inserting and mailing for larger jobs. We can even personalize any piece. And, for anyone unfamiliar with direct mail and how it works, our onsite experts will be happy to teach them about the process.
As a Baltimore native, and someone with a passion for communications in general, and mailing list brokering in particular, Judith E. “Judy” Antisdel saw the need for a locally based company focusing on prompt and efficient mailing and printing services. So, fulfilling a promise made to her late sister, Susan, the former advertising and marketing executive launched her own company, Anne-Tisdale & Associates, Inc. in 1987. Judy chose the name, a European version of her surname, to pay homage to her family’s heritage, strength, and history of entrepreneurship.
Since then our company has gone through a few names changes, to keep up with and reflect advances in the industry, eventually becoming AT Direct today. And although much has changed in the way that mailing has been handled over the past three decades, Judy has successfully run her business in much the same way — with a few simple core values, a people-first attitude, and a passion for the value of the mailing industry.
Judy initially started the business out of a bedroom in her house. The first “real” office of Anne-Tisdale & Associates, however, was a basement in a larger home that measured a whopping 350 square feet. The only way to receive our shipments of materials (paper, envelopes, etc.) back then was to have employees form a human chain down the brick steps and into the back of the building, hand each heavy parcel from person to person, and stack them in the closet. Most of the early employees were women looking for part-time jobs to help pay bills or work when their kids were in school. Once, a regular delivery driver who knew our company well, was astonished to see how much weight the employees could shift from woman to woman. On a particularly hot and humid day, after seeing them unload more than 200 boxes, he shouted, “You go, you momma’s, you mailing mommas!” That phrase, “The Mailing Mommas,” became our company’s mantra and tag line for many years.
As our company grew, more employees from all walks of life found jobs at Anne-Tisdale & Associates. As part of her promise to her sister Susan, Judy vowed to let kindness and compassion guide the way our company would hire employees: treat them like real people and harbor the needs of anyone seeking a job. Because Susan had worked with deaf and blind people, for example, Anne-Tisdale chose to hire handicapped employees. Likewise, because Susan was a victim of domestic violence, Judy partnered with The House of Ruth of Maryland, and Anne-Tisdale helped to employee many women sheltered there — including one who received her first American paycheck and earned US citizenship.
To this day, almost 30 years later, many of the same people are still employed at our company, and have been an integral part of our many advancements in technology and growth.
Similar to her unconventional approach to hiring and staffing, Judy has maintained a pioneering attitude about the mailing industry that has helped guide the choices that our company has made over the past three decades.
For instance, when she launched her company, catering to the needs of business-to-business clients and corporations was a relatively simple matter; there was a vibrant market and plenty of opportunities back then. Judy soon realized her true passion was to serve the large number of non-profits in the area, many of whom were unfamiliar with the process and needed help with the basics: choosing the best way to reach an audience with mailings. So she adopted the same people-first stance with her clients and equipped our company to handle all the essential mailing needs, from data processing, labeling, sorting, packaging, tabbing, and stamping, to design, printing, hand assembly, and distribution. She also began to offer onsite experts to teach clients and staff about the process and how to use it to their advantage. As a result, AT Direct has one of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the industry.
As we continued to grow, Anne-Tisdale & Associates expanded its services, added more employees, and evolved its approach. In 2008, our company moved to our current 16,000-square-foot location in Baltimore County, with a nod toward an increasing focus on direct-mail and digital technology. And along the way, AT Direct, as we are now known, has developed into a respected, full-service list, mailing and marketing services company that meets any direct mail need while maintaining the personal touch that’s become our signature.
From the get-go, AT Direct has always maintained a people-first attitude. We enjoy working with customers and helping them solve their problems. It is incredibly motivating and fun for us. The staff are caring, they have a sense of humor, they’re respectful, and they understand what being a team means. The environment we create and nurture here is the one we all want to be a part of. As we like to say, “Without everybody in here, we’d be nothing.”
We believe that attitude shapes what other people — especially our customers, vendors, friends, and visitors — think of us. People want to be around other people who are easy to work with, understanding, dedicated, enjoyable, and successful. Most important, we are people who care — that’s somewhat unique. We seek to treat other people the way we want to be treated, with utmost respect.
Most other companies are built on production — we are built on experience. We have 30+ years of experience, in fact, handling a wide array of printing and mailing services. As many of our competitors say, “Everything we know we learned from Anne-Tisdale.” We offer a wealth of information about the direct-mail industry, from mail piece design and the latest postal regulations to the benefits of personalization and how to find cost savings in any marketing campaign.
We know that direct mail is the single most cost-effective way to connect with the people you want to reach. But we also know that not everyone understands how direct mail works. That’s why we offer onsite experts to teach our clients and staff all about the process. Our goal is to teach/instruct everyone — from CEOs to new hires in the sales department — the ins and outs of direct mail, how to create an optimal campaign, and how direct mail can assist in reaching their goals.
What we sell is solutions. We look at all aspects of a project, seeking the best way to do the work, on time, as cost-effectively as possible, and with a smile. Our goal is to make our customers’ projects go as smoothly as possible, to allow them to be as successful as possible, and to build on their future together.
We understand the challenges that our clients, especially our non-profit business clients, face each day. We know what their budget constraints are, how tight timelines can be for creating and reviewing, the fact that their mailings must be delivered on time and look perfect, and that each piece of mail is valuable. We take very seriously the work that we do in preparation of business-critical data and understand what each of our clients brings to society as a whole. They are the difference-makers in many lives, so each piece of mail must be delivered so that the funds continue to come in and their outreach is successful. We take pride in our role — providing the production services and a timely delivery for each and every single piece of mail that leaves our facility.
Judy Antisdel is an experienced, recognized authority in direct mail solutions. Under Judy’s leadership, we’ve earned professional designations ranging from US Postal Service Non Profit Specialist to US Postal Service Mail Manager. She is a frequent guest speaker at symposia and workshops offered by the federal government and various non-profit organizations.
Judy also has had great impact on the industry as a whole. She volunteers her time to many postal-run policy committees and educational planning groups. She works tirelessly as Industry Co-Chair of the Greater Baltimore Postal Customer Council (GBPCC), to make sure that the membership stays engaged and grows their mailing business the right way, with the correct tools and knowledge base to keep them at the top of their game. Under her mentorship, the GBPCC has won national awards for Communication and Platinum PCC Status, and AT Direct was the 2002 recipient of the National Postal Forum Design/Idea Category for using mail in a non-traditional way that allowed the recipient to open a letter safely during the Anthrax scare. In 2015, Judy was awarded the Silver PCC Industry Person of the Year Award.
The mailing industry has changed a great deal over the past three decades, and we have done our very best to keep up with the changes. At the very least, we believe that, as the saying goes, the more things change the more the mailing industry stays relevant. For example, now that the Internet and personal computers have expanded the horizons for what’s possible with marketing and boosted our ability to reach an audience in increasingly varied ways — from websites to email blasts to social media and more — we have embraced new technology that can marry the old world with the new. One example is augmented reality, a technique that uses the latest digital technology, such as the Layar app, to transform seemingly ordinary printed images (on postcards or print ads) into an interactive online experience. Staying up with and adapting to such technological advancements can create more opportunities not only for AT Direct and our clients but also for the myriad businesses and entities that comprise the mailing industry.