CEOCFO Magazine Interviews Sysgen CEO on IT Management
CEOCFO Magazine features SysGen’s IT management with Founder, President & CEO Lyle Richard in its 2013 issue. The CEOCFO Magazine interview explores how SysGen has established a reputation as a trusted IT management company in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, and Vancouver.
BIO: Regarded as a pioneer in the IT management industry, Lyle Richardet founded SysGen Solutions Group in 1995. Lyle began his career in the document management market, where he held executive-level positions at Fortune 500 companies such as Xerox and Ricoh.
With a strong focus on client service, Lyle transitioned to the IT management industry, building CompuSmart’s Corporate IT division and eventually moving into a position as Vice President at Graycon Group. Within a few years, Lyle helped develop Graycon from a small company with approximately 10 employees to a successful firm with more than 70 staff members. With a desire to build his own organization with the best IT service possible, Lyle branched out to create SysGen Solutions Group.
Today, Lyle’s commitment to delivering best-in-class service is embedded in the corporate culture of SysGen. Recently, Lyle was named as one of the 2013 Leaders of Tomorrow by Business in Calgary magazine, a program that identifies people in the business community who have exceptional personal integrity, community involvement and innovation.
About SysGen Solutions Group
SysGen Solutions Group is a client-focused IT management organization. We’re trusted providers of IT support, services, and solutions for small to mid-sized businesses in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, and Vancouver.
SysGen understands the vital role technology plays in your business and is dedicated to delivering unmatched customer service, comprehensive network support, and innovative solutions.
It’s our mission is to create strong partnerships by delivering reliable and responsive IT management, while remaining committed to innovation and accessible expertise.
CEOCFO: Mr. Richardet, would you tell us about SysGen Solutions and your vision for the company?
Mr. Richardet: Essentially, SysGen is an IT management organization focused on serving small- and mid-sized businesses (SMB). We manage everything from the desktop to the budget for clients. With that, our goal is to provide a very personalized service delivery. SysGen has evolved since 1995, beginning as a document management practice with high-volume printers, facsimile and the like. In 2004, I transitioned the company with a new business plan to become a full IT management practice. Today, we are forty-five employees strong, and we reach throughout the Alberta Corridor including Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton. We also have offices in Vancouver. Over the years, we have been received very well in the market and have enjoyed a lot of success.
CEOCFO: Why do these customers, clients and companies out there need IT management and what separates you from the other outfits that provide it?
Mr. Richardet: Small- to mid-sized businesses can have up to 500 users, but our sweet spot is in the ten to one hundred user range where companies would not traditionally be able to hire the resources they need to manage their network. The key component of our model is managing the network as a whole, as opposed to just reacting on a “break-fix” basis. We provide a fractionalized service – you might get a piece of an administrator, a piece of a technical manager or a piece of a project manager depending on your needs and the strategy we’ve developed for you. In terms of what makes us different from the rest of the industry; the industry today is definitely focused towards maximizing margins and minimizing resources and they do that by introducing help desks and that sort of thing. They actually inhibit clientele from being able to work directly with system engineers that likely need to respond to technical issues. We are contrary to what everybody else is doing and are returning to more traditional, personalized service. Our clients deal directly with our people and never have to hassle with a ticket system or help desk. That is bringing us a great amount of success.
CEOCFO: What types of custom companies are you referring to?
Mr. Richardet: It is a variety. Oil and gas in Alberta is a big thing for us as well as the manufacturing, medical and accounting industries. We also have a not-for-profit component. There is a great deal of community involvement for us, and our charity of choice these days has been the Missing Children’s Society of Canada. With that, we bring in a ton of support. As a result of being involved in the not-for-profit world, we are very well versed in what their needs are, how to respond to them and how to manage budgets for them.
CEOCFO: Where will your growth come from?
Mr. Richardet: Our growth will come from small- to mid-sized businesses and perhaps on the upper scale of organizations that recognize our skill set for advancing technologies. We are somewhat of a boutique shop that is emerging technology and we see larger organizations looking to restructure their infrastructure and optimize on technologies like virtualization.
CEOCFO: Will you be looking to expand your reach into different areas of Canada or are you happy where you are at in that regard?
Mr. Richardet: Vancouver is a new one for us over the last year. I do not see us expanding offices at this point in time. We actually are involved in a consortium of IT management practices across Canada through Venture Tech Network (VTN). What that allows us to do is partner with successful IT management companies like SysGen in every metropolitan area in North America. Today, we can execute service delivery in Newfoundland, California and anywhere on the North American continent. I think we would look more towards working through our partner network than actually expanding our base that way. I think there is a great deal of business in the Alberta Corridor for us, and we are reaching points north of Fort McMurray and seeing some response there as well.
CEOCFO: How do you acquire customers in need of IT management?
Mr. Richardet: We have a successful business development team headed by Ryan Richardet, our General Manager. We also leverage our social media platforms, website and print advertisements. Often, our growth comes from word-of-mouth.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about customer retention and how business is doing these days?
Mr. Richardet: Business is going great. We have seen consistent 50% to 60% growth of our client base year-over- year. In terms of customer retention, I must admit we have done very well. I believe that it is a product of our model. Clients like to get to know their IT professional and have that person remain consistent. The fact that we’re able to offer that to our clients has been very valuable.
CEOCFO: Are acquisitions a part of your growth strategy?
Mr. Richardet: I am going to say no at this point. We have looked at acquisitions along the way. We have a very definitive model and trying to unmask and integrate an acquisition into our model would be difficult. I am more inclined to think in terms of organic growth.
CEOCFO: To continue to grow your IT management practice, do you ever envision the need for funding or are you ok with working on revenues?
Mr. Richardet: Over the years, we have done a very good job of building our cash flow in proportion to our business. We are committed to continuing that. We have been involved with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), and they have done a good job of helping us fund cash flow and grow. It is a two-part answer; one part is we definitely try to work with what we have, and the second part is looking for support from organizations like BDC.
CEOCFO: Why should the business and investment community pay attention to SysGen Solutions Group?
Mr. Richardet: In terms of our target market, it is a wide spectrum within the SMB world. We are absolutely driven towards businesses that are in high growth mode because we can dynamically respond to their needs and growth, and we do that quite well. We offer stable quality and personalized IT management from a group of very talented senior technologists. We are after those people that see the value in our business and are willing to participate in long-term strategies as opposed to just reactionary tactics in terms of their technology needs.