Mary West is a telemarketing pioneer. Though she never attended college, she founded WATS Telemarketing in 1978 with her husband Gary, a hospital...
Mary West is a telemarketing pioneer. Though she never attended college, she founded WATS Telemarketing in 1978 with her husband Gary, a hospital administrator, in the garage of their Omaha, Nebraska home.
The inspiration: catching a commercial one night asking viewers to place an order for a Roger Whittaker album, and thinking there must be a better way to market products than on TV. After they sold that company in 1980, she founded West TeleServices in 1986 (her husband joined a year later), and took it public in 1996. Private equity investors led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Quadrangle Group took it private in 2006; at the time, the couple received $1.4 billion in cash but also kept a stake.
Today Mary owns 10% of West Corp. which went public again in 2013. With Gary, she has contributed over $350 million to improve health care for senior citizens, including a May 2016 donation to fund a new geriatric emergency department at UC San Diego Health. Longtime racing fans, the couple also reportedly own more than 100 horses at their Kentucky stable.