Taking a company from $8 million in annual revenue and growing that number by more than 400 percent in only six years is no small feat. But leading companies through phases of tremendous growth and subsequent profitability is Tim Wallace’s career specialty.
His work for iPipeline is no exception.
Prior to taking the helm in 2008 as CEO of the Exton, Pennsylvania-based software company, which sells a suite of sales-distribution software products created for the financial services and insurance markets, Wallace held chief executive roles at XeroxConnect and FullTilt Solutions Inc., among others.
“My career has been predominantly about building companies up and scaling them and helping them grow and achieve their potential,” he says. “And when you have the opportunity to grow companies very, very quickly, it brings a whole host of challenges as well as opportunities that you have to deal with.”
He attributes growth to a positive outlook, hiring the right people, fostering community in the workplace and sharing the company’s vision effectively.
“Negativity is not a recipe nor an ingredient in the overall quest for success,” Wallace says.
Culture as a part of growth
At iPipeline, employees can be found taking part in wellness programs, attending dietary seminars and involving family members in company events and picnics. The company promotes and sponsors employee perks such as gym memberships, educational seminars, athletic teams, clubs and more.
“We really promote this as being a company that’s really focused on its employees and their well-being and their families’ well-being,” Wallace says. “Culture is part of the growth.”
Identifying the type of culture and work environment that will foster success is important.
Wallace poses a few questions that help define this: What type of organization do you want to be? What type of dress code do you have? What type of message do you want to send to your people about their career paths and opportunities for promotion, progression and development? And then how does that factor in from a social standpoint, a family standpoint?
Wallace knows his own personal definition of success and strives to see the same for his employees. In the end, the right employees need to have balance to continue to be successful.
“My definition of success is having a great family life, and a work life that’s in balance and that you’re happy with. You know if you don’t like getting up and going to work every day, you’re in the wrong profession,” he says.
Transparency is integral in making sure employees know the company’s values and expectations for its workers.
“I’ve found that — at least with a software company — the more transparent that you can be with your employees, the more you can feel, and have them feel, like they’re part owners of the company, the easier it is to get all the other pieces working effectively as well,” Wallace says.
How does he define ownership? To him, it means taking pride in one’s work.
Hiring the right people
Many companies grow at a rapid pace, but sustaining that growth long term is a challenge.
“There are a whole lot of ingredients that go into making sure that not only, one, can you grow, but, two, can you grow successfully? And those are just some of the types of things that we’ve got to deal with on a constant basis,” Wallace says.
Once the right product is in the marketplace and the demand from customers is there, employees become integral to continued growth, he says.
iPipeline, which was founded in 1995, has grown from 35 employees to 450 employees in the past six years alone. On average it has hired 100 employees annually for the past three years.