John Owens keeps Cohesion Business Technology prospering Featured

8:01pm EDT June 30, 2011
John Owens keeps Cohesion Business Technology prospering

John Owens founded Cohesion Business Technology, a technology services firm, to provide organizations with high-impact business technology solutions to support their core business objectives. The president and CEO is always on the lookout for people who can help make his business a better one and continue the fast-pace growth Cohesion has seen in the past few years.

“For us, strong teams built with the right people are always the biggest challenge,” Owens says. “As a company and as a team being in the people business, we really have been focusing on trying to excel with making great hires and building great teams of people.”

That constant search for improvement has helped the 200-employee company see annual revenue of $20 million.

Smart Business spoke with Owens about how he keeps his company growing and prospering.

What have been factors behind your growth, and how do you keep up with it?

A majority of growth that we have had over the years has been organic growth and a lot of it comes off of client demand. As we begin to pick up new clients and new services, we expand our team based on those needs.

You should find great people when you can and expand the team to prepare for that growth. There is a lot of ramp up time and a lot of processes that need to be in place and a strong team is definitely going to help you achieve that goal. I don’t think you can get there without having the right people and the right management team in place. It is critical that you have the right team built in order to scale the company.

How do you attract the right people to your company?

It goes back to your core values. Look at those as the pillars of your company and what you look at to determine if someone is going to be a fit with your organization. They could be a very senior person with many years of experience or a junior-level person, if those core values aren’t there, then it’s just not going to work.

How do you adapt your growth to changes in your market?

A lot of it is doing research. You have to keep a pulse on the market. It’s critical to understand that what you did two or three years ago isn’t going to necessarily work. You’ve got to be open for change and be in touch with the market. That comes with experience. After you beat your head up against the wall so many times and the route that you’re taking becomes less and less effective, you learn that you have to be open to different options and flexible to different options that might not be ideal, but effective. We all want to have the winning idea or winning solution, but you become more experienced and more humbled and end up going with what works for you and what’s best for the business.

What are some mistakes businesses often make during growth?

There is more than one solution to a problem and having an open mind and being willing to hear a different perspective and different viewpoint to solve that problem is what I would recommend. An open mind is key. A lot of times you go at a problem with a solution and you’re kind of closed off to some other alternatives to that solution. I think utilizing your employees and your consultants to solve a problem, whether it’s a certain business process or technical problem, you need to reach out and hear all the different alternatives and solutions that the people who are actually out in the field and out doing can suggest.

What are some things that could hinder the growth of a company?

Cash flow is one of the big ones. I think you have to keep your eye on the cash flow and the revenue generated. Some of the non-tangibles are communication and culture. Culture is so huge and so often the culture is overlooked in how critical it is. I think that’s one thing that can really sneak up on you and have a negative impact is not having a strong culture.

HOW TO REACH: Cohesion Business Technology, (513) 587-7700 or www.cohesion.com