Local man named "Most Intriguing”

Ohio Township resident Sean Adams has been named one of the “21 Most Intriguing People in Media” for his work on the internet. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

Most people who know Sean Adams think he's a fairly down-to-earth guy.

His Emsworth office is as basic as an office can be: folding tables, folding chairs, a few laptops. No fancy eating habits, either. The mini-fridge is stocked with soft drinks and the microwave stands ready to heat up cans of Dinty Moore beef stew stacked five high on top.

So it might come as a surprise to those who know him to learn that min, a national media tracking firm, has named Adams one of the "21 Most Intriguing People in Media," putting him in league with such fellow winning executives and writers as Jann Wenner of "Rolling Stone," Justin Osofsky of Facebook, and Robert Sauerberg of Conde` Nast.

Min describes the 21 honorees as having gone "…above and beyond the clarion call of duty within the last year to create a lasting mark in their sphere of influence, and, most importantly, to ask the question --what are they going to do next?"

To find out what makes Adams intriguing enough that he will be trading off his Dinty Moore to dine with fellow winners at the Grand Hyatt in New York City on Dec. 9, one has to drop back a decade to when Adams wrote "The Lawn and Landscape Profit Handbook," based upon his experiences as owner of a lawn care business that he operated during his college days at Duquesne, where he majored in English and psychology.

"I realized that for as much as I knew about running a business, there were so many other aspects that I did not know anything about," Adams said. "And then I came up with an idea for on-line communication, Lawnsite.com, where lawn care workers and landscapers could share information about lawn care, landscape lighting, water gardens. People could sign up and talk for free. It grew and grew and grew, actually out of control! With 115,000 registered members, it was a little ahead of its time."

The obvious next step was to contact major manufacturers -- Ford, Chevy, John Deere. Adams told them, "Your target audience is gathering on-line every day. Don't you think you should be seen in front of these people?"

They did.

And then came the winter of 2002. While others groused about the snow and ice, Adams heard opportunity knocking. Enter Plowsite.com, with discussions about nothing but plowing and salting -- 60,000 members.

"Not Facebook, but as a niche site, they have an enormous amount of traffic," Adams said.

Keeping the "nothing succeeds like success" adage in mind, Adams began churning out more niche sites targeting electricians, plumbers, painters, welders.

"I realized that these guys know all of the information. They wrote the content; I would build the sites."

The b-to-b -- business to business -- concept seemed to be tailor made for Adams, who added a few stitches of his own along the way.

His sites caught the attention of American Machinist, a132-year-old publication. "They came to me. 'We want to own your welding Web site to match our print with on-line.' They're a part of Penton Media, which controls over 100 trade magazines."

Adams sold the site, and then, as fortune has been known to do, a mistake turned into a bonanza. "A secretary made a mistake in a press release, stating that Penton Media had purchased Lawnsite.com. rather than the welding site. Suddenly others came to buy my sites. I sold the biggest one I had in 2006, and then sold three more sites to Moose River Media in Vermont."

Moose River made Adams a vice president and equity partner in the company, and his best friend and employee, Mike Donovan, came along with him.

"When I sold to Moose River, the sites were no longer mine," Adams said. "I had the time to become intrigued by other things. I began to realize that the big media companies -- magazines, newspapers -- have been incapable of doing what we had done on-line. They have been horrific failures when it comes to creating situations where they have tribes of followers and fans who keep coming back."

About the time that Adams was being "intrigued," he caught the attention of min, which covers the business aspects of the media industry, and who had started following Adams. "They'd write an article and they'd include comments from me. They thought my angles and approaches to media were intriguing!"

Min sent Adams a report, asking him to verify, via third party verification, his site statistics. "Google was my third-party verifier. Min now realized that a little company from Vermont had a huge on-line community of people, many of them not-too-tech-savvy people."

He explained how he has taken non-glamorous professions, such as farmers, landscapers and arborists, and built the sites' content around them. "Journalists love it; the Internet world loves it. I feel that over the past decade, I've played a role in making this a better industry. I take a white-collar approach to a blue-collar world," Adams said. "I've taken on-line content and print content and married them together as nobody else has been able to."

Adams quickly supplies the answer to min's question, "…what are they going to do next?"

He said that he had been so "pinned down" by the internet that he realized he needed some variety. He opened a few small businesses, became involved in real estate, and then decided to get back to his roots, so to speak, by launching a new landscape company.

But his current passion is MyGov365.com, a site that he believes will impact the country.

"The site will allow citizens to communicate directly with legislators in no uncertain terms. It will give citizens an understanding of legislation of the past and what is on the docket now. A legislator will be able to find out what his constituents think. If his constituents are on MyGov365 and he polls them, he will know what they want, and he has to vote according to their wishes. It will give people the opportunity to know what's going on, not through an op ed page or a radio or a TV personality."

With access to actual information, opposed to opinionated reporting, the media will not want the site to exist, Adams said. "People will ask why they should listen to Sean Hannity if they can get the information at MyGov365, which will give them the platform that they have never experienced but have always needed."

Adams, vice president of the site, describes his job as growing it so that more citizens use it and bringing more attention to the site through social media.

Another new business, Social Media Athlete, serves professional athletes, teaching them how to properly enhance and take advantage of their current marketability and fame so that they have options after their careers are over. "This is an online service, not a site," Adams said.

Adams lives in Ohio Township with his wife, Lindsay, a daughter, 4 and a son, 1.

He'll come back from the fancy New York food, happy to get back to his Dinty Moore, with Chef Boyardee for occasional variety, and happy to get back to work.

"I love the internet," he said. "I want to use it to have an impact on society. I want to do things that will change the world, not just one industry. I want to be a part of something that has an impact long after I am gone. That may be a lofty goal, but I'm here, I care. Why not me?"

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