Go with the flow

Five years ago, you might have found Lance Healy and Jim Walborn delivering grout to a construction project. Today, they run Elyria-based Banyan Technology, a multimillion dollar nationally deployed technology firm.

When Healy’s product development company joined forces with Walborn’s concrete specialty supply house in 1999, they expanded beyond the traditional local markets and began to explore the possibilities of the Web. The pair launched ConcreteBrokers.com in August 2000 but, frustrated with the difficulty of the coordination and management of freight, soon pioneered a new online marketplace for freight.

Following this successful model, Healy and Walborn received many requests to purchase materials outside their area of expertise, concrete. That led to the launch of ConstructionBrokers.com in November 2001, supplying materials for building construction.

Again, they realized their Achilles’ heel was an automated freight partner that failed at random and hindered their ability to conduct business efficiently and effectively. In response, Healy and Walborn created a solution to serve their needs — they allowed their shipping utilities to be used by other companies via the Web. The solution was so well-received that revenue on their freight solutions outpaced their construction materials sales.

Healy and Walborn then decided to develop and market their freight solutions under the name Banyan Technology. They were introduced to the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise (GLIDE) in 2002 and moved to a technology incubator at Lorain County Community College in April 2003.

Healy says the “healthy paranoia of competition” inspires Banyan to reinvent itself and incorporate new services.

“The sudden downturn of the (concrete) industry and simultaneous aversion to dot-coms was an incredible motivator to take stock of our knowledge assets and make some hard decisions on where to place our resources,” he says.

First, Healy says, know what separates your company from the competition. If four other competitors hold the same claim, look beyond the traditional business operations, brainstorm some “really brass ring ideas,” and then ask, “What if?”

“Instead of listing why it won’t work, start to investigate how it could work, and don’t compromise on the end product because what you need isn’t available,” he says. “You may have just identified a goldmine.” HOW TO REACH: Banyan Technology, (800) 835-1274 or www.banyantechnology.com