Committed to quality Featured

9:53am EDT July 22, 2002

Figuring out how to make their company grow hasn’t been a problem for James Hickey, president, and Scott Keglovic, executive vice president, of The Arras Group. Their struggle, and their achievement, has been to manage yearly growth without compromising quality.

For their accomplishment, the pair was recognized as finalists in Ernst & Young LLP’s Entrepreneur Of The Year program for the second year in a row.

“Our stated objective is to grow 15 percent a year, to double every five years,” says Hickey. “That’s for us very manageable growth. In a service business like ours, in particular, it’s really critically important that none of our existing clients feel a pinch as we are growing. That creates challenges. We’ve grown every year we’ve been in business, thankfully. It’s tough to maintain the same levels of service. It’s tough not to be a little distracted.”

The Arras Group, an integrated marketing communications company, was established in 1991 in the basement of the Keglovic home. Its big break came when it was brought on to revamp the faltering Stearns & Foster line of mattresses for the Sealy Corp. The company grew 13 percent with $9.1 million in gross revenue during fiscal year 1998, Hickey says.

One way it has been able to focus on clients is with a new, proprietary software called RADAR — Remote Access Delivery and Response. “(It’s) technology that we’ve created for ourselves that allows us to put files on our Web site and our clients can come and access them,” Hickey says. “If there are six people who are contacts for a particular project, they can all come to our site. The can review the work; they can make comments. It’s a really great e-business application.”

Hickey cites the company’s low turnover as a key to maintaining the level of commitment to clients. The past year has seen the implementation of a 401(k) matching funds program, a stock appreciation recognition program and the highest profit sharing distribution ever.

Retention is “always a compensation issue,” he says. “But sometimes it’s emotional compensation and sometimes it’s financial compensation. (We try to) give them enough challenges, enough opportunity to progress and take on more responsibility and compensate them fairly financially, so that they’ll stay around.”