“NetGain Technologies has always had core values, but we want them to really come alive this year.”
That’s what I told our team earlier this month, when I had the honor to deliver our 2017 companywide kickoff meeting in my new role as CEO. Every month during a gathering of our entire company, we review those core values and beliefs—the guiding values of integrity and responsibility and professionalism. Measurable expectations and collaborative teamwork. “Best in class” results and market-leading client satisfaction scores. Part of our corporate culture has been to reaffirm those central beliefs regularly, so they become the driving principles of our actions.
I heard Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, say one time, “You have to be willing to hire and fire on culture.” That is what we are trying to build here. Part of the culture is being a workplace of a lifetime. We want to work to make this company somewhere talented individuals come to join our team and never want to leave. This sentiment is what makes up the NetGain Way of doing things.
So when I met with our team shortly after the holidays, I shared with them The NetGain Way, a refreshed version of the core values we need to pursue. We need to fight every day for what is right, and constantly pursue a better way. We need to have fun. We need to put family first. We need to be the workplace of a lifetime.
My grandfather founded NetGain Technologies in 1984 and instituted some of the core principles that made NetGain a regional power in I.T. My father and his brother purchased the business from him about a decade later and grew the company to a nationally-recognized managed I.T. services provider, even earning worldwide top-100 status in the MSP industry. They strengthened NetGain’s foundation using lessons from Jim Collins (Good to Great) and Verne Harnish (Rockefeller Habits).
In 2012, my brother Brendan and I became part-owners in NetGain, and began a multi-year path to succession of leadership. We had both practically grown up in the company’s offices. At the start of 2017, we officially took over day-to-day operations of the company—Brendan, as President, will oversee Sales & Marketing, while I will oversee Operations and the executive leadership team. Mark Jacobson (former CEO) and Jim Jacobson (former COO) continue to serve NetGain as advisors.
2017: BHAG Momentum
Five years ago, NetGain identified a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It’s one of the strategies Jim Collins advises for visionary companies committed to long-term success. Brendan and I heard Collins speak at an industry event and even had an intimate lunch gathering where we met and spoke with him. His work and business philosophy are a real guiding light for me.
Our BHAG is an aggressive target of sales and client retention that requires the focused efforts of the full NetGain family. In 2017, we hit the half-way point of the BHAG’s 10 years, with a “due” date in 2022.
At our early January staff meeting, I was happy to report that we have been gaining momentum and we are now about to speed past the one-third mark on the way to the goal. Our theme this year is achieving a “Million Dollar Year” in monthly recurring revenue. We even set a stretch goal for this year that could lead us to taking the entire company on a Caribbean cruise!
I.T. is complicated. Businesses need a plan, whether to scale their technology to company growth, or to meet the demands of auditors and compliance regulations, or just to maintain data security. Most CEOs and other executives recognize they don’t know how complex I.T. is within their companies.
NetGain has always viewed I.T. as a business tool. Our clients are business leaders, not I.T. departments. We approach I.T. management from the perspective of business objectives, rather than technical specifications.
Over time, companies have requested NetGain’s guidance for building business processes. Bank boards and health care organizations’ central offices have asked for strategy sessions. Rural manufacturers have set up meetings to discuss I.T. staff recruitment challenges. CEOs and CFOs and business owners have inquired about tactics to align technology with their growth objectives.
Last year, Brendan spearheaded the creation of a formal workshop geared to executives. During the NetGain Technologies Executive Workshop, our business experts help company leaders build a business process to better manage their I.T. At the end of the session, they have a clearer understanding of their existing technology, and a report documenting a straightforward plan to achieve the results they require, and appropriate costs for those services. Some businesses use the workshop’s findings to improve their internal capability to manage their I.T. efficiently. Others conclude some or all of their I.T. support and maintenance are better entrusted to a third-party provider. Either way, the executive team receives follow-up support in form of accountability checks on progress toward goals identified during the workshop.
2016 in Review
2016 was a tumultuous 12 months. Fortunately, a year marked by the U.S. elections, social unrest, and celebrity deaths ended with a few bright notes. The Dow Jones rallied to all time highs and U.S. consumer sentiment at its highest level in a dozen years. Most CEOs in my YPO chapter said 2016 was their best year ever.
I provided NetGain’s year-end recap during our staff gathering, and I was able to report some exciting news.
Our Technology OneSource managed-services clients benefited from a decision we made to invest additional resources in proactive network management. The count of reactive support tickets dropped during the year. Effectively, by keeping problems from developing, we eliminated the need for our clients to have to contact us to address problems.
Not to be outdone by the “proactives” team, our “reactive” remote support engineers (RSEs) reduced the average time to resolution by 25 percent. Not only were clients calling in less frequently, they had quicker resolutions when they experienced issues.
Our QBR process expanded to many new clients and to existing companies who opted to transition to the enhanced services of Technology OneSource v.10. Quarterly Business Reviews are sessions when we meet with clients to provide a status report on their I.T. and make sure their systems are ready to support and contribute to their short- and long-term objectives.
Chattanooga, Tenn.—one of NetGain’s seven branch offices in a six-state regional footprint—had its best-ever year in 2016. The Cincinnati office also exceeded 2016 goals and is poised for an explosive 2017.
Our primary metrics indicating client satisfaction were all stellar in the final quarter of 2016. We grew our Net Promoter Score to 79 (bypassing the tool’s “Excellent” rating and achieving “World Class”). Our 24/7 client help desk earned 99.2 percent client satisfaction in Q4, and our Projects team managed a perfect 100 percent approval rating.
We expanded our offices to better serve clients. The secure network operations center added dozens of new offices and workstations. (Take a virtual tour of the NOC, or read more about its SOC 2 Type II certification.) And we added flex space workstations in our Lexington, Ky., headquarters office as well.
Honors and Recognitions
Several members of the NetGain family deserve recognition for advancements and achievements in the fourth quarter.
With tenures of 28 years and nearly 25 years, respectively, Julie Rogers and John Meholovitch are two of NetGain’s longest-serving employees. In 2016, both veterans took on new roles in the organization. John received a promotion to become the first-ever Business Controller for NetGain, and Julie moved to the accounting team.
We formalized a vCIO role for our largest regulated clients. Many of our long-term clients have worked with Robert Patterson and know his ability to strategically lead their I.T. strategy. I’m pleased to announce Robert has transitioned to his new role of full-time virtual Chief Information Officer.
Quarterly awards for outstanding employee efforts went to:
- Sales-Projects: Reggie Gresham
- Sales-Managed I.T. Services: Emily Toles
- Finance and Administrative: Tina Warner
- Marketing and Development: Scot T. Gillies
- Engineer-Lexington: Jason McRoberts
- Engineer-Louisville: Rob Holt
- Engineer-Chattanooga: Ryan Lieving
- Engineer-Little Rock: Brett Brownderville
- Engineer-Cincinnati: Dustin Nichols
- Engineer-St. Louis: Kyle Belobrajdic
- Remote Engineer: Mark Patterson
- Operations: Terri Snider
- Sales Support: Alex Featherstone
Continuing a family business into the third generation is really rare, and Brendan and I recognize the responsibility that goes with it. Many family businesses experience difficult transitions due to lack of communication and planning. I am thankful to my father and uncle for providing guidance and direction, and putting a plan in place years ago to get us to this point.
Before I took on the responsibilities of CEO, I recognized that the most exciting thing about coming to work each day is striving to build a better workplace. Now more than ever before, I want NetGain Technologies to be a place people enjoy and where they feel they can contribute in a meaningful way. One of my favorite indicators of NetGain’s success is our recognition as a top employer (see press release announcing our 2016 “Best Places to Work” honors).
I look forward to strengthening NetGain’s relationships with our clients and industry colleagues. And Brendan and I are both energized by the new companies our team is working with on executive workshops. We anticipate a year of growth in 2017, firmly supported by a foundation of 32 years of best-in-class I.T. support.
If we haven’t yet met, please reach out to me. I’d enjoy getting to know you, and hope you will look to the expert I.T. services we provide when you need additional support.