2012 Columbus Smart Leaders: Rich Johnson, President & CEO, ViaQuest, Inc.

Rich Johnson, President & CEO, ViaQuest, Inc.

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

During the downturn in the economy, our bank was hit especially hard and they unexpectedly did not renew our line of credit even though we had been a good customer for many years and had never missed a payment or tripped a covenant. This could have put us out of business but everyone in the organization had a “all hands on deck” mentality and we used innovation and drastic cost cutting measures to survive. Through this experience we found out the resolve of our employees and the passion they have for each other and the people we serve. Today, we are stronger than we have ever been in every sense of the word.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

To me being an innovative leader means hiring the best people, giving the freedom and opportunity to innovate, and staying out of their way. As such, operating in the healthcare industry means that things are changing on a daily basis with the onset of the Affordable Care Act so if you are not using innovation whether it is through people or technology you will be left behind. This past year we have invested over $1.5 million dollars in technology upgrades which has allowed us to speed up our service delivery time while simultaneously providing quality assurance checks that ensure the proper services were delivered. However, all of the technology in the world means nothing unless you have the people to implement the technology, so to me innovation is all about the people you employ and that is the one thing that allows us to be on the leading edge … our people!

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

The best way to make an impact on the economy is through job growth and we are projecting the creation of over 300 jobs in the next three years throughout the state of Ohio. However, I believe the biggest impact will be the 100 jobs we will create for people with disabilities and disabled veterans. This has been our central goal for the next year and our expectation is that we will far exceed the projected 100 jobs.

Richard D. Johnson is the president and CEO of ViaQuest, Inc.