SysGen’s 20th Anniversary Featured in Business in Calgary
SysGen Solutions Group is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the February 2015 edition of Business in Calgary. We’re excited and honored to be featured in a four-page spread in the publication. Read how SysGen has built its reputation as a trusted managed IT service provider in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, and Vancouver in the full article below.
From the Ground to the Cloud…and Beyond
By Julia Marshall
Step inside the head office at SysGen Solutions Group, and you’ll encounter a few surprises – a foosball table, a beer fridge, and even a dog or two. It isn’t your typical workplace. And SysGen isn’t your typical information technology company.
In a world where businesses are increasingly reliant on technology, SysGen sticks to its people-first philosophy. “We don’t use help desks or ticket systems,” explains Lyle Richardet, SysGen’s president and CEO. “When our clients have an IT problem, they call their SysGen technical account executive directly. The technical account executive then engages whomever they need from the SysGen team to resolve the issue.”
SysGen also differentiates itself by offering best-in-class IT advice and solutions, and the company uses the solutions they offer clients in their own operations. “Our mission is to offer the best IT services and solutions to our clients,” says Lyle. “At the same time, we keep ahead of the technology curve and educate ourselves on the latest trends to help our clients maximize their investment in their IT systems.”
For example, SysGen works closely with Cisco to develop and deploy significant network solutions. As a result, SysGen clients enjoy improved stability through feature-rich enhanced technology and services. In specific cases, the enhancements are incorporated in both desktop and telecom systems. SysGen’s relationship with Cisco also lends itself well to internal development through training initiatives.
Born and bred entrepreneurs
Lyle started his career in the office products industry, working at Xerox Canada for more than a decade. His skill for customer service and adherence to high technical standards led to awards from his employer and a client-centric approach he would later embed at SysGen. After Xerox, Lyle joined a small family-run business, where he managed the organization’s service department. “I got my first real taste of entrepreneurship there,” explains Lyle. “I took some courses in entrepreneurship in my spare time and began to research how to start my own business.”
Eventually, Lyle was recruited by Ricoh, an imaging and electronics company, to manage a large division. He worked his way up to a director role, where he developed and employed his own managerial strategies. At Ricoh, he began to see opportunities in the then-immature IT industry. In the mid-1990s, he left the printer industry to break out on his own and founded SysGen Solutions Group, which was incorporated in 1995.
In those early days, Lyle ran SysGen from his home office. Today, the company has nearly 50 employees with offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Vernon, and Kelowna. “The secret sauce has been our personalized approach to the service experience,” says Lyle. “In addition, we’ve adapted our offerings to keep pace with industry trends.” SysGen currently offers comprehensive services and solutions including network administration and design, virtualization, IT infrastructure, cloud computing, and data storage and protection. As Lyle puts it, “We can manage everything from the desktop to the client’s IT budget.”
SysGen’s growth wasn’t without its challenges and risks. Lyle committed his personal wealth, including retirement savings, to bridge SysGen’s startup and operating costs. It was also difficult to obtain initial authorization to resell brand-name products without a proven track record. In the end, Lyle’s tenacity paid off, and SysGen is now a trusted partner of many big-name IT brands.
While Lyle was busy building SysGen, his son, Ryan Richardet, was discovering his own passion for entrepreneurship. From childhood, Ryan’s dream was to become a doctor. He laid the foundation for this career path, graduating with a bachelor of biological science degree with distinction from the University of Calgary and volunteering in his spare time in the emergency room at Rockyview General Hospital. While participating in the uber-competitive medical school application process, Ryan took a sales job with Xerox. His success was explosive – he was named Rookie of the Year and Youngest Major Accounts Executive in Canada within his first year with the company. Ryan started to open up to the idea of a long-term career outside of medicine.
Yet Ryan didn’t give up on his childhood dream. He continued to apply to medical school, even after he left Xerox to join SysGen in a business development role. But just as Ryan was getting comfortable, he was accepted into the University of Calgary’s medical school in 2012. He was faced with a heart-wrenching decision. “It was probably the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make,” explains Ryan. “In the end, it was the limitless possibilities of entrepreneurship that led me to choose a career with SysGen over medical school.”
It turned out to be a fruitful choice. Today, Ryan is SysGen’s general manager and he has been instrumental in SysGen’s growth.
Lyle and Ryan’s entrepreneurial spirit is evident at SysGen. “Our employees are trusted and encouraged to be entrepreneurial,” explains Ryan. “Many of our technical account executives don’t even work in SysGen’s office space; sometimes they have a desk at a client’s office, or they work from home.” The company also supports individualized career objectives and training opportunities to help employees reach their own goals.
Other members of the Richardet family also work for SysGen – Lyle’s sister and daughter are employed at the company, but even employees without the Richardet blood are part of the SysGen family. For example, the 2013 flood severely affected one of SysGen’s employees, who lived in High River. The company quickly organized a fundraiser, which drew nearly $10,000 in donations. On another occasion, Lyle sponsored an employee’s son to attend a basketball tournament in Germany, and in return, the employee’s family put in two days of volunteer work at the Mustard Seed. Another employee’s stepson received support from SysGen to compete in the FIRST Robotics Canada Western Regional Competition. “These family-oriented initiatives are so important to SysGen,” explains Lyle. “We always look for opportunities to support employees.”
Even employees’ dogs get to experience the family feel at SysGen. SysGen staffers’ canines often enjoy regular visits to the office.
In addition, SysGen is an avid supporter of official charities such as Missing Children Society of Canada and United Way of Calgary and Area. In 2014, Ryan was named vice-chair of the Gen Next initiative at United Way.
Partnerships are also of utmost importance to SysGen. The company works closely with manufacturers and service providers to build channels that offer clients the best solutions at the best prices, and SysGen works with its peers to share ideas and resources. “One example is the Venture Tech Network,” Lyle elaborates. “The VTN is a knowledge and services network offering shared expertise throughout North America; we partner with other members to share proven practices and results, and we join together to shape the delivery of products and solutions to local markets.”
SysGen publishes a monthly blog, offering tips and tricks for businesses when it comes to making IT decisions. “Calgary has had its share of natural disasters and emergencies over the past couple of years,” says Lyle. “We want to be able to freely share our thoughts on how companies can best protect themselves against data loss, for example, and the blog is a great tool to get the information out.”
SysGen has grown from the ground up, a fitting metaphor for the world’s changing technology landscape. “These days, businesses need to think about their entire IT landscape – their hardware, cloud services, and more,” says Ryan. “We help our clients navigate what they need on the ground, in the cloud, and everywhere in between, what we call the SysGen Atmosphere.”
Appropriately, the company’s success has been rocket-like, with back-to-back rankings on the PROFIT 500, recognition as one of Business in Calgary’s 2013 Leaders of Tomorrow, and a nomination for the Breakout Business Award by the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
At the same time, the company’s homegrown roots and people-first approach have helped SysGen preserve its down-to-earth qualities. “We’ll always be about excellent customer service, strong relationships, and dynamic entrepreneurialism,” concludes Lyle. “As much as technology may change, that will not.”
Find SysGen’s IT support and managed IT services in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Vernon, and Kelowna. Connect with us to learn more about SysGen’s cloud offering, cybersecurity services, and technology consulting.