Ian James Featured

9:52am EDT December 20, 2002
When Ian James left FreeMarkets and started his own consulting firm, he got a shock.

When it came time to service his computer network, he found it was nearly impossible to find anyone capable of or willing to do the work. When he could find someone, the service level, he discovered, was lacking. And often, service providers just didn't understand the needs of the small customer, he found.

"There's no question that there's a dearth of IT support in this market," says James.

Instead of wringing his hands, James decided to do something about it. Figuring there must be lots of small companies in the same boat, he surmised there might be a business opportunity to exploit. To test his hypothesis, he launched Red Square Systems in 1998 as Single Point Systems, an IT service provider.

His instincts were dead on. Red Square now has a client base of 450 and grew from eight employees in 2000 to 23 in 2001. Currently, the company employs 35, and James expects to double its staff and triple its revenue this year.

James says the success of Red Square can be attributed to a company culture that eschews the typical corporate hierarchy and gives employees, especially service providers in the field, wide latitude in decision-making when it comes to serving clients. He pays them well, 10 percent to 15 percent more than the industry average, he says, and allots 5 percent of revenue for educational purposes.

Turnover has been almost nonexistent; the company has lost only one service provider in four years. That allows each client to be serviced by the same technician on virtually every service call.

This consistent level of service, James says, has kept the company's marketing expenses low. The company has captured new business in its first four years almost exclusively via referrals.

"After four years," says James, "we know we're on to something." How to reach: Red Square Systems Inc., www.redsquaresystems.com