Creating best-selling questions since 1992
Bret Nicholaus and Paul Lowrie graduated from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN, in 1991 with degrees in speech communication and marketing, respectively. One spring afternoon in 1992, while having lunch in a Chicago-area restaurant, Bret and Paul came up with a simple book idea that they thought would be marketable and fun to publish: a collection of original questions that could serve as ice-breakers in numerous casual and professional settings.
Within a month they had formed Questmarc Publishing and released a small 350-copy printing of their first book, The Conversation Piece. Within a few weeks, they were reprinting, and Bret and Paul spent the next three years tirelessly selling the book around the country. By late 1995, the two authors had sold 20,000 copies of their small paperback and attracted the interest of a literary agent.
In 1996, Ballantine Books (a division of Random House) bought The Conversation Piece—along with two other unwritten titles—from Bret and Paul. During its first year with Ballantine, the hardcover version of The Conversation Piece: Creative Questions to Tickle the Mind made several bestseller lists and sold over 75,000 copies. As of 2013, it has racked up total sales of more than 200,000 copies.
Moving from books to boxes
Bret and Paul, known as The Question Guys™ because of their long-time success with a broad range of question-based books and because they have penned over 6,000 questions, made the decision to expand beyond books in early 2007. Using their knowledge of what made their question books so popular over the years, The Question Guys™ created a boxed version of question cards called Chat Pack.
As with all their products, Bret and Paul’s aim with Chat Pack is to provide the consumer with content that is highly positive, unusually creative, and downright entertaining—or, as Bret and Paul put it, “to offer questions that are G-rated and 5-star fun at the same time.” The Question Guys™’ unique recipe for questions makes Chat Pack as popular with children as with adults, and explains their diverse account base—everything from restaurants, car washes, and toy stores to high-end gift shops, museums, and travel companies.
Chat Pack is already in its 15th printing and is one of the most popular products in a large percentage of accounts that carry it (one gift store in Minnesota has sold more than 4,000 units to date).
Chat Pack is a product of Questmarc Publishing, an imprint of William Randall Publishing. Questmarc and William Randall Publishing are based in Yankton, South Dakota. Paul Lowrie, one half of The Question Guys™, lives in his hometown of Yankton; Bret Nicholaus, the other half of The Question Guys™, lives with his wife and kids in the Chicago, Illinois, area.
A new collection of fun cards from The Question Guys will be released in the fall of 2015.
View our Statement of Purpose.