Finding your niche Featured

8:00pm EDT October 27, 2005

In 2002, Brian Carpizo, Chris Hafenscher and Jeff Grell started their second company together, Junction Solutions, an enterprise software and services provider.

“We saw an opportunity to work with Microsoft in the enterprise applications area because Microsoft had made a couple of large acquisitions in this space,” says Carpizo, CEO and president. “And we saw an opportunity to build a software company and services company on top of what Microsoft was doing.”

However, Carpizo soon realized that just because there is an opportunity in the marketplace doesn’t mean you will succeed.

“When we first started this company, we had a much broader line of service offerings,” says Carpizo. “What we found was due to the breadth of what we were trying to offer to the market, our message got drowned out because it wasn’t succinct enough.”

The founders then decided to focus their business around Microsoft Axapta, a multilanguage, multicurrency enterprise resource planning solution. They also decided to focus on two specific industries, multichannel retail, and food and beverage. Once the company became more focused, it began to grow.

Junction Solutions’ revenue increased from $1 million in 2003 to $4 million in 2004, and it expects an even larger jump to $16 million in 2005.

Smart Business spoke with Carpizo about how he manages the challenges of constantly adding employees to a fast-growing company.

What challenges have you encountered as a fast-growing firm?
As we grow and add new business and clients, we are constantly needing to add people. It is a constant challenge to find good people and train them and get them up to speed on the technologies that we are utilizing.

How have you overcome this challenge?
Typically, we will bring in senior people with a lot of experience and we will have them work in a wide area and handle a wide area of responsibilities. As we get larger, we will bring in people and let them build their own teams underneath them and do what they need to do as we get bigger.

For example, if you have someone running consulting, they are going to be a consultant for awhile. As the organization gets bigger, they are going to hire more consulting managers and that person is going to build his team under him. We tend to bring in more senior people at the beginning and then let them build their own organization.

How do you train new employees?
We have some formal training that we have developed. We use training from outside vendors, like Microsoft. We also do some industry training.

Mostly what we do is we have our inexperienced people really learn from our experienced people. Every new person that comes into our company and is given an assignment is going to be working with a senior person who is really experienced and is there to show them the ropes.

The organization is really centered around the constant influx of new people and the fact that those new people need to be mentored and trained and explained to about how things work. It is a daily and normal thing to keep bringing new people in.

How do you maintain your corporate culture while your company is constantly adding new people?
The one thing that isn’t changing is the corporate culture. The corporate culture was really set by the first five or six people in the company. The way we maintain the culture we originally developed is by continuing to hire people that fit in to our corporate culture. Once you find them, you don’t have to do much work.

Even though we’re changing, it really doesn’t feel any different to me that it did when it was just four people.

How do you find those people?
We tend to attract people who like a growing, dynamic smaller company type of atmosphere. The types of people we bring into our company are very bright and very resourceful.

They’re able to handle all the different challenges that we throw at them without as much structure as you would have in a large company.

What are you growth goals for the future, and how do you plan to achieve them?
We’re looking at doubling our revenue every year for the next four years or so.

What we’re really looking at here is a phenomenon under which we believe that Microsoft is helping change the way software is developed for enterprise software companies. We feel that we are on the tip of that trend.

There is a large amount of opportunity for us to do that. There is an extreme amount of opportunity for us to succeed with our vertical strategy.

Our two vertical industries are food and beverage, and multichannel retail. Eventually, we are going to branch out to support all retail types of application software.

Because of some things that we are doing with Microsoft and our partnership with Microsoft, we are part of this thing called the Industry Builder Initiative, and that is taking us global. We not only have the opportunity to expand right here in the States, but we are looking at expanding globally as soon as this year.

That’s going to expand markets for us and make the opportunities for us that much larger.

How to reach: Junction Solutions, www.junctionsolutions.com