The History of Bonfire Training

bonfire landscape

We get a lot of questions about how Bonfire came to be—and how nearly 40 years later, we’re still out here sparking lasting change. Like many businesses just starting out, all we really had was an idea and the grit to make it happen. Watching the company start out from such humble beginnings and flourish into what it is today is so rewarding. We’re grateful every day that we get to do this work! Keep reading for a quick Bonfire Training history lesson:

The Beginning: PhonePRO 

Before Bonfire was ever a thought in our minds, “PhonePRO” was launched on December 6, 1985, by Mary Beth Rhoads Ingram and her husband, Terry. With Terry acting as the sole salesperson and Mary Beth handling training, the Ingam’s Indianapolis home became the official PhonePRO office space. Starting out, the business provided customer service and communication skills training that focused on helping call centers improve their care.

As you may have guessed, over time, PhonePRO began to gain traction. With a boatload of new customers and the need to hire more employees, the home office was deemed “the big company in the little house.” After years of success, the Ingrams retired in 2007 and our current CEO, Lisa Raven, became the sole owner.

By 2015, PhonePRO had grown to become an industry leader in customer service and communication—but the company had outgrown the PhonePro officespace and overall branding. The “little house” was sold in 2015 and with one chapter coming to an end another was just beginning.

The Rebrand: Bonfire Training 

After over two decades of successful customer service coaching and leadership training locally, nationally, and internationally, PhonePRO was officially rebranded to Bonfire Training in February of 2016.

After listening to the feedback from our clients, we decided that the name “PhonePRO” didn’t fully capture the spirit and variety of the training we provide. The world had become much more virtual over the years and the brand’s focus on call centers dwindled. It was time for a change, and that meant a full re-brand.

So, why the name “Bonfire?” Well, a bonfire is a bright, inviting circle where people gather to communicate, have fun, and feel comfortable sharing ideas. Around a bonfire, the sparks draw your gaze upward, the heat and light are welcoming, and the circle keeps everyone feeling connected. We saw it as a positive and relatable image that emphasized the importance of inclusion. Because that’s how we feel about our training—it’s for everyone and the skills light up their potential!

The Legacy: Sparking Lasting Change

Today, Bonfire Training has become a force in customer service and leadership training. Our training is tailored to each organization’s unique needs to promote a healthy culture and align your leaders and team members to spark meaningful change.

Our services standardize exceptional service throughout organizations, and we’ve hit some pretty amazing milestones over the years! In 2017, we had our biggest engagement yet, training 4,500 staff with only 12 Bonfire trainers in just a matter of weeks! Better yet, the training we created for this program (EDGE) has been featured as a customer service “best practice” in Training Magazine!

We’ve made it through a Recession, through 2020, and are approaching nearly 40 years in the business. To us, it feels amazing to still be here adding new courses and delivery options to our catalog. As far as we’re concerned, Bonfire is here to stay!

So, if you need a #TrainingPartner4Life, we’re here to fuel your Sparkmakers and ignite your team’s potential! Reach out and learn what we can do for you!