Chris Ryan grows Geo-Solutions Inc in a niche market Featured

8:01pm EDT May 31, 2011
Chris Ryan grows Geo-Solutions Inc in a niche market

Chris Ryan, president of Geo-Solutions Inc. has been experiencing a problem all businesses would like to have. His soil and groundwater construction solutions company has been experiencing rapid growth. Growth is what every business wants to achieve, but with growth comes a lot of added responsibilities.

“We have experienced some very rapid growth,” says Ryan whose company saw revenue of $18 million in 2010. “The biggest [challenge] has been trying to manage growth and get personnel into the company.”

The company’s rapid expansion over the past few years has kept Ryan looking for ways to continue the success.

Smart Business spoke to Ryan about how he manages to keep up with the growth his company has seen.

How do you plan for growth?

You have to take stock of your resources in every level that you need to achieve the types of work that you’re planning to do. You have to determine where your weaknesses are and fill those weaknesses before you try and do the work.

You have to have good communication within your company and with your senior people. You have to determine what your needs are and plan ahead before you’re in a crunch of having to do something.

How do you grow within a niche market?

We’ve set our vision in a certain niche market, which is the treatment of soil and groundwater. Anything that’s in that niche, we will take on.

Your niche has to match the expertise of the key people in your company. Anybody who is looking to get into a business or grow a business needs to determine what it is that distinguishes them from the majority of the competition. That will improve your chances of making a dent in the marketplace.

The businesses that do well in our market are the ones that identify what they’re good at and perform it well and gain reputations to get people to come back over and over again.

Do you hire before you grow in anticipation of it or after growth?

The first scenario is obviously preferable that you’ve planned properly and you’re prepared. We have done a certain amount of that and I have certainly experienced the second scenario where you’re completely out of people, and it’s really not a good situation. Everybody becomes busy, that’s for sure.

We had that situation a few years ago and what really scared me was if anybody had any major issue like an illness to themselves or their family or anything that would put somebody out of the mix for an extended period of time, it would have been a disaster for us.

How do you prepare yourself or guard against that?

You have to try and foresee what is happening in your marketplace. You have to make some kind of judgment as to what the level of business will be.

What do you look for when you’re hiring people?

You have to find what’s important in terms of skills and education for the person you’re trying to hire. Then you have to try and find a person that matches those requirements. With companies like ours and others that are in a niche market, all those similar companies are competing for the same people.

How do you attract those people and beat the competition?

The best way is to be the leader in your business or to be the market leader. If you do that, you become the place that people want to work, because they want to work for the best company. That would be number one, but obviously competitive pay and opportunity to participate in ownership and all those benefits are very important to attracting people to a job as well.

What are some other struggles of rapid growth?

As you grow rapidly you’re constantly changing your profile with your lending institution. You have to maintain good relationships with your bank and keep them well advised of what’s going on. It’s really about maintaining good communication.

HOW TO REACH: Geo-Solutions Inc., (724) 335-7273 or