The co-founders of CHR Solutions Inc., a provider of technology and business solutions to communication services companies, come from very different backgrounds. James Taylor, chairman and CEO, grew up in Missouri and Arun Pasrija, president and COO, grew up in India. Regardless of their varied backgrounds, they run their 550-employee company in absolute agreement.
“You’ve got to go through and clearly agree on the core spirit of the
organization, the mission, values and philosophies,” Pasrija says.
It is through collaboration on the culture of the organization, the growth of the company and treating people with dignity and respect that they have built the company into a $50 million business.
“As part of being process-driven or process-centric, you need it to be part of the culture of the organization as you grow to be able to create size and scale,” Taylor says.
Smart Business spoke to Taylor and Pasrija about what has been crucial to the growth of their company.
Make mergers and acquisitions.
Taylor: We began to acquire technology services companies that had a common vision and mission and shared our philosophy of the world and were looking to be part of a bigger team to help us execute in this marketplace. We viewed it as a mosaic.
We recognized that to create this beautiful picture we needed to fill in certain pieces, whether they were clients, technology, locations or talented people that would help us execute. When we made acquisitions, we were simply looking at things to help us fill in part of that mosaic and create that size and dominance in that marketplace.
Pasrija: We ask two fundamental questions as we look at a merger or acquisition and we need to answer with a definite positive. One is what’s in it for our customers. Is this going to add additional benefit to our client base? If we can’t answer that with an immediate yes, then we’re going to pass. The second is what’s in it for the employees on both sides. It has to come across as this is better from a professional growth perspective. Those two questions … have to be answered in a resounding, ‘Yes, there is benefit.’
Taylor: If it’s good for the clients and it’s good for the employees, it will be good for the shareholders. There are a lot of deals that are focused on the shareholders and not the employees and the clients.
Align your culture.
Taylor: The first thing you have to do is write it down. You have to have agreement on it. It is so important to get people together. If you don’t communicate, people will create their own communication. You can’t communicate too much and you have to write it down and articulate it.
Pasrija: When you look at the whole integration, there are things that you look to do right away, but there are other things that might take nine months. Those are the things you can’t force to go any faster. The actual culture will require time to get gelled. Part of the cultural integration is that we have certain core philosophies which are nonnegotiable. There are certain core values of the organization and a core mission and all of those we share. You have to create the clarity of purpose, the clarity of accountability and the clarity of the core values.
Taylor: We spend a lot of time on culture and organization. Every month, we do either a company chat with all of the employees in the company or a ‘lunch and learn’ to educate them. Every meeting we start off with our basic sheet that talks about why we’re here to help our clients succeed, our mission, our vision and our goals. We do that so we can make sure people align with them.
Pasrija: You have to make sure you collectively come up with what are the right performance measurements. As long as you can make it analytical and where you can actually measure that’s going to help you make decisions. There are two kinds of measurements. One is your financial results. When you look at financial results for a month, the month’s already gone and all you can do is learn from that history. There are other indicators called leading indicators, for example, the sales pipeline. That’s a leading indicator of what the sales might look like in the next quarter. You have to make sure you can focus on a few critical indicators.
Taylor: Pick three [indicators] in every area and keep it simple. If I give you 53 indicators, you can’t track 53. What are the three most important? Could there be some places in business that have five? Absolutely. Could there be some places that have one? There is a general rule that if you’re in the three-to-five range you’ve got a pretty good feel for what that activity is.
We all have visions of grandeur and visions of what we want to create and build and do, but you’ve got to be careful that there’s reality set into how you’re going to get there. That doesn’t mean don’t dream big. It doesn’t mean dream audacious, but you’ve got to figure out what the dots are to connect to that point.
HOW TO REACH: CHR Solutions Inc., (713) 995-4778 or www.chrsolutions.com