SI Review: June 2010

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Case Study: Two-Family Success at Geneva Technical Services, SI Review June 2010

Company: Geneva Technical Services

Headquarters: Chicago

Founded: 1999

Industries Served: information technology staffing

Revenue: nearly $5 million in 2009

Website: www.genevatechnicalservices.com

By Julie McCoy

It's a two-family affair at Geneva Technical Services. Mark Yario -- who founded the Chicago-based technology staffing company with John Novak and Megan McCann -- works alongside his son, Keith Yario, who is a recruiting manager at GTS. And in November 2009, brothers Rich, Mike and Tom Linden also joined the company and became majority owners, with Rich becoming the CEO.

Infrastructure, Application Development Staffing
Founded in 1999, GTS provides IT infrastructure and application development staffing solutions and services to Fortune 1000 companies. In the area of infrastructure, GTS helps companies fill help desk, desktop and mobile computing, LAN/WAN and security, and data center positions. And in the area of application development, it helps companies find database managers, Web developers and systems migrations specialists.
Why the name GTS? Yario says he chose the name because he grew up visiting nearby Lake Geneva.

A Small Company That Aspires to Become Bigger
GTS, which has eight internal staff, generated nearly $5 million in 2009 and anticipates revenue of $6.5 to $7 million this year. The company -- which has one office in Chicago -- is in a growth mode and plans to open new locations. In fact, the goal is to open a new office in late 2010 and another in 2011, Rich Linden says. "We definitely want to expand," Mike Linden says. "We want to become multiregional in the Midwest." GTS also wants to expand its application services and solutions services offerings.

Success Due to Anticipating Needs, Exceeding Expectations
To what does GTS attribute its success? The company anticipates customers' needs and exceeds their expectations, according to Rich Linden. "Every day is a good day to make a difference and exceed the expectations
of our customers and candidates," he says.

Mark Yario says GTS tells it like it is and doesn't waste anyone's time. "I attribute the success of the company to no false hopes," he says. "Not telling them what they want to hear, but what the truth is. Not wasting customers and candidates' time. If we didn't think we could help the customer out, we would tell them right away. We try to give the customer exactly what they're asking for, instead of asking them to get something they didn't ask for and don't necessarily need. We're giving them value. The only way to do that is to listen and understand what they're looking for."

GTS also focuses strictly on information technology and has experienced staff, Rich Linden points out. Every account executive team has at least 20 years of information technology staffing experience.

Clients Say GTS Goes Extra Mile
Silvia Prickel, managing director of IT service management for United Airlines, has worked with GTS for four years. "He [Mark] provides all of the contractors for my service desk staff. I do a lot of business through GTS," she says. "Forty percent of my staff is United employees, and 60% is contractors through GTS. I am extremely satisfied with the caliber of individuals they provide. I have an excellent relationship with them because they are very customer-focused. Every time I've needed a contractor, their turnaround time has been within 24 hours. If I've ever had an issue, it's been resolved in 48 hours."
Concludes Prickel: "They're very customer-focused. Very reliable. Always there. I never have to worry. They know what I'm looking for. That saves me a lot of time. They prescreen. They filter. They deliver high-quality resources for me. I've always been very pleased."

Prickel says she used to work with other staffing firms in addition to GTS, but now works strictly with GTS. "GTS is, in my mind, [more] superior in service than the others I have worked with. It is a strategic partner. It turns those requests around quickly with the right person. It's kind of like -- here's what I need -- and they deliver. They're very responsive."

Rob Zelinka, director of infrastructure for TTX Company, has worked with GTS for 10 years. "Where Geneva really shines is they know our culture," he says. "They know our pace. They're not likely to present someone to me [who is] not a right fit. They understand. They get it that their job is to be an advocate [not only] of the companies they represent but also of the candidates they represent."

GTS is good at following up and keeping its promises, Zelinka says. "They're what I call old school. Old school is: things are done face-to-face and with a handshake. ... It's the old-fashioned way of doing things."

On a scale of 1 to 10, Zelinka gives GTS a 12. "The reason I would give them that is we have built a relationship," he says. "I know that any candidate that they send me is going to fill the needs at that time."

Alex Ristanovik, director of field services at Resurrection Healthcare, another GTS client, says: "They're very good at what they do. They're very street-wise. You definitely get what they tell you you're going to get. They're incredibly fast, which I like. I love the flexibility. They break a lot of rules to make you happy. You feel like they're there to help you, as opposed to being a number. I have been very, very happy with them. They're just a no-BS company. You don't feel like you're talking to a salesperson. It's people talking to people." Ristanovik has recommended Geneva to other companies, and they are happy as well. "Really the sky's the limit with them," he says. "They definitely have our loyalty."

Frank Arvidson, senior manager of IT customer service for United Stationers, says: "Mark Yario has been one of the key people in getting the right people to me in the right seats. So we've been pretty happy. What I like about working with GTS is they not only bring a contractor to the table, the contractor is often a future employee. ... It's a great way to test out talent. When there's an occasional miss [and] the person isn't right, Mark takes appropriate action."

Candidates Impressed, Too
GTS helped Taneushia Bates land a job as an application support analyst at a software development company. "The staff there -- from Mark to Megan to Keith -- I mean even after you're placed they come visit you," she says. "They take you out to lunch. You can email them anytime, and they email you right back from their BlackBerry or whatever. It's instant. You can call them any time to talk about anything. They seem well connected and like they know their stuff. They are professional, yet they are warm. They aren't cold. They definitely care about their people. They're good at what they do."

Bates, who had never worked with a staffing company prior to GTS, says it helped change some of the negative things she had heard and negative impressions she had in her head about the industry. She had heard staffing companies were just interested in filling positions with warm bodies and didn't really care who was placed, as long as they placed someone. But her experience with GTS proved otherwise. "They have totally changed my mind about the industry," she says.

Kyle Szmurlo, who got a job providing technical support to a financial company through GTS, says GTS took the time to know him and his skills, and place him at a company that was a right match. "They're just good people. You can talk to them. They're friendly. They know what they're doing. It's nice to work with them. They do care. I have worked with a lot of other firms before, and it was just kind of a joke sometimes. GTS is a smaller shop and one of the better ones. They do the extra stuff. They're good with people. It's a people-oriented business. You should be good with people. A lot of companies miss that."

Founders Are Industry Veterans
Mark Yario, who has been in the staffing industry since 1987, brings 23 years of experience to GTS. He started off as a recruiter for CapGemini America and also worked at Origin Technologies before launching GTS. "I originally started out as a recruiter then moved through the ranks to recruiting manager, sales professional, sales manager, then branch manager before becoming owner and founder of GTS," he explains.

And Megan McCann, who serves as company VP, began her career in information technology more than 15 years ago at another professional services organization where she held key recruiting and sales positions. "It's important to feel part of an organization that you believe in, and make a positive contribution to," she says. One of the things McCann likes about working at GTS and being in the staffing industry is that things are constantly changing. "It's a changing environment," she says. "The landscape is changing. That is exciting. It's never the same scenario. You always run into different things."

Linden Brothers Join the Team
The Linden brothers, who are new to GTS, say that with the exception of growing the company, they don't plan to make any changes. Each brings their unique but complementary skill sets to the company and adds to skills the original founders have. Rich Linden handles strategy, marketing and sales.

Mike Linden, who serves as executive VP of sales, has been in the staffing industry for 20 years. "I'm a high-energy guy. I love the relationships. I love the people I've worked with. I've developed some amazing relationships over the years. I've been successful. If you're successful at it, you can stick with it."

Prior to joining GTS, Mike worked at GloTel, where he held several management positions. He also spent 17 years at TAC Worldwide. "It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up," he says. "The team we joined here -- it's a solid well-experienced, dynamic energized team. It's been really nice. It's been refreshing, eye opening."

Tom Linden, who serves as COO, handles legal issues, accounting, taxes and human resources. Prior to running GTS, he spent 25 years at Deloitte & Touche, where he had been a partner in the company
for 15 years. "I basically early retired to come to GTS," he says, adding that, "What I bring is 25 years of executive professional services experience, and 25 years of dealing with the C-suite at companies that are in our target audience. I bring a wealth of professional services experience grounded in accounting, tax. I bring the collective knowledge of all that."

The opportunity to become an entrepreneur and work with his brothers excited him enough to leave corporate America, Tom says. "Being a small business owner is a real challenging and rewarding thing," he says. "That really appeals to me as both a reward and a challenge."

Clearly Defined Responsibilities, Trust Essential in Two-Family Biz
Having people from two families working side by side can be challenging, so what do you need to succeed? "Clearly defined responsibilities and a sense of trust," Rich Linden says. "Those are two key characteristics of making it work. There's an inherent trust and confidence that comes with working with family. With clearly defined roles, it becomes an enjoyable experience."

Giving Back
GTS believes in giving back to the community in which it operates, Rich Linden points out. McCann volunteers for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and GTS as a company is a sponsor and volunteer for i.c.stars, a nonprofit that, like GTS, was founded in 1999 and offers four programs that are designed to develop 1,000 community leaders by 2020.

A Bright Future
GTS has always had a solid foundation and now, with the addition of the Linden brothers, who are going to help open new regional offices and expand its business-to-business strategic partnerships, the company is poised to only become bigger, better and stronger in the future.

"We are merging two families together, but we all have the same goal (which is to continue to grow and nurture the company)," says McCann. "We're headed in a great direction. It's a really exciting time for us. We've gained a lot of momentum through a marketplace that some might call adverse. There's been a lot of hard work, energy and effort we've poured into the business. ... It's a pretty exciting time here."

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