June 4, 2002

Re: Fred Coon

To Whom It May concern:

Fred Coon has asked me to serve as a professional reference for him as he pursues career opportunities. At the time of our association, I was Senior Vice President of Sales for Direct Corporation of Minot, ND, the county's leading check printer. In June of 1996, Direct purchased Fred's firm, Acme Resources. Direct purchased the company in part because we wanted to leverage our sales organization by giving them an entirely new line of products to sell our existing clients. Since AR's sales force was calling on the same customers we were, there seemed to be a lot of synergy. However, it soon became obvious that expecting check sales people to sell direct response products wasn't realistic. We needed to quickly develop a workable sales model.

Because of his experience in the industry and his role as National Sales Manager at American Resources, I asked Fred to head up the creation of a Field Sales Specialists group made up of people from the direct response industry with a lot of technical expertise and some sales background. These people would work as a team with our check sales reps, our folks getting the appointment, and the FSS demonstrating the product and answering technical questions. This allowed us to capitalize on long-established relationships without embarrassing our check reps in front of their customers by asking them to sell something that they didn't understand.

Fred accepted the challenge and agreed to serve as Director of Business Development for Direct's newly created Client Response Division. In this capacity he reported directly to me. Not only did he do a superior job of recruiting and training our nineteen-member FSS group, but he demonstrated a unique ability to manage and motivate his team in a very difficult situation. Although Fred's FSS group's only charge was to introduce the new direct response product line to Direct customers, he and his team members had to depend on our check reps to get appointments and close sales. Since direct response products were not the check reps' only responsibility, Fred's job also involved promoting teamwork between the two groups, a task he was unusually well suited for.

Although Fred and I ultimately both left Direct Corporation through a series of divestures, we have remained in contact. Because of my respect for John's abilities, I have retained him as a consultant on a number of occasions in my current capacity as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Lighter Payment Systems. I can heartily attest to Fred's qualifications as an outstanding sales, marketing and business development leader. Should you wish to discuss Fred's qualifications further you may feel free to contact me at (phone) or via email at (email).

Truly yours,

Michael Hinton