Corporate Technologies Group (CTG) – Brett Harney, co-owner, Jeff Sumner, co-owner
Q: Give us an example of a business challenge your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.
In 2009, we had three major clients either significantly down size or get acquired and this in result had a significant impact on the bottom line. Once this happened we realized we needed to focus on acquiring new customers while still maintaining our existing customers. We took an in-depth look at the market space where we were best suited to help our potential customers. Once we defined the market we wanted to penetrate we took aggressive action to market into that type of customer. We have been very successful since 2009 in working with new customers in our defined target market. Our sales increase for 2010 versus 2009 is greater than 10 percent based upon our targeted approach.
Q: In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?
We don’t have any defining innovative management techniques. However, we do enable all of our employees to have direct access to the owners if need be. As well, all employees get to have set aside time with their supervisors on a weekly basis as well as yearly reviews.
We feel these are the traditional things that management should do at a minimum, but we also have some employee perks that motivate our staff as well. One of the perks we utilize is having a masseuse come into the office once a quarter to give everyone a massage. We also have “shopping hours” between Thanksgiving and Christmas for our employees to take two different two-and-a-half-hour time segments to go shopping during the work day. This enables everyone to shop without their kids or significant other with them while they’re still getting paid!
We are a technology company and therefore we like to utilize technology to keep us on the leading edge. We have utilized VOIP technology since 2002. The VOIP technology has enabled us to retain key employees without geographic limitations. Our customized database keeps track of all of our customer activity and becomes an essential retention element in dealing with our customers. Our customers come to depend on the information in our database as much as we do. This has allowed us to have a near 100 percent customer retention rate. The innovation of the database has helped our company grow significantly over the past several years.
Q: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned and how have you applied it?
Give someone the benefit of the doubt and treat everyone as a valued employee. All of our employees come from different backgrounds and all have different situations in their home life. Many times there are situations out of the office that have an employee thinking of something besides work or coming to the office at a very high stress level.
We have figured out that if we try to let the employee understand that we feel for them and understand they are experiencing some kind of difficulty they will be able to actually relax and continue to work. The last thing we want is a employee to be so stressed out at home and then have additional stress added at work because the “boss” doesn’t understand or care.
As long as both sides communicate openly the situation typically ends up turning out for the better. We can’t change what goes on out of the work environment, but we can make the work environment a place that is comfortable and caring.
Q: How does your organization make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?
As I look at our profit and loss statement and look to the salaries line item it is a number that most of which is spent (some hopefully saved) in the local community. This supports the other local companies like the pharmacy, grocery stores, restaurants, car dealer and all of the others. This line item also is the economic life line of the many families in our employ. It is a great responsibility and privilege to work in a growing small business where this line item continues to grow.
The economic impact is only one of the ways a company has an impact on the community. Our most recent new committee is our “green team.” The green team is responsible for impacting the community thorough recycling as much as possible. We also impact the community through volunteer efforts with the Greater Akron Chamber, Autism Walk and Leadership Hudson.