In a recent visit to Washington, D.C., we had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Gallup, the original market researcher. The visit was part of the National Newspaper Association’s Leadership Summit 2014. We had the opportunity to meet the chairman of the board of Gallup, Jim Clifton, and his son Jon, a rising star in the organization.

The Gallup headquarters building really is two buildings — one old and the other new. They are connected by several walkways on the upper floors. The old one has antique furniture while the new one is modern in every respect. We met with the Cliftons in the old building in a conference room. The company employs the very latest in technology in overseeing operations in more than 160 countries. It really is an educational institution since it has a large training department for people who do the interviewing and conduct surveys in a number of countries. The company likes to do face-to-face interviews whenever possible.

Gallup dates to the early 1930s when Dr. George Gallup founded the company. Working for an advertising agency in New York, he originated many of the “basic methodologies and technical procedures used today in marketing, advertising and media and audience research,” according to the company. The Gallup Poll scored a major coup in 1936 when it predicted that Franklin Roosevelt would defeat Al Landon in FDR’s re-election bid. That put the Gallup Poll “on the map” nationwide when Roosevelt won.

Gallup went global just prior to World War II when The Gallup International Research Institute was established. Annual meetings were held. It was an association of independent polling organizations representing about 50 countries. Gallup polling revealed the opinions of people around the world on countless important issues.

The core of Gallup’s mission was explained in his own words: “If democracy is supposed to be based on the will of the people, then somebody should go out and find out what that will is.”

Gallup’s key strengths were being a polling scientist and a teacher. His advice was sought by presidents, other government leaders around the world, and, of course, businesses. He died in 1984. In 1988, Jim Clifton of Selection Research, Inc., Lincoln Neb., acquired Gallup in a merger after about four years of negotiations with Alec Gallup. The company grew at a rapid pace, especially in the 1990s. Gallup owns Gallup-named operations in 20 nations and has offices in 40 major cities around the world. Its operations, as mentioned, stretch to more than 160 countries.

Along the way, Gallup partnered with CNN and USA Today for daily polls. Gallup also built its own television studio. Gallup also is in book publishing. Gallup designed and engineered the world’s first web storage system containing millions of records of what people thought over the last 65 years. It also established the Gallup Brain, the first information or intelligence resource designed for the world’s 20 million leaders. The company said its Gallup Press exists to educate and inform the people who govern, manage, teach and lead the world’s 6 billion citizens.

Gallup opened a 50-acre Gallup University campus along the Missouri River in Omaha in 2003. And, of course, the company has an online operation.

Gallup has grown and prospered because of its professional approach in all of its endeavors. That is evident by visiting its headquarters and talking to its leaders.