By Erik Cassano
Robert Reed did not set out to build a data solutions company of 260 people. He did not really even envision himself as an entrepreneur, but opportunity found him.
“RCR Technology has my initials because it started out as just me,” says Reed, founder and president of the Indianapolis-based company. “I studied computer science at The Ohio State University, I had been working in the field for a while, and in 1997, I decided to start my own firm as a data architect and consultant.”
As Reed began working with his first client, however, he found he was able to offer services well beyond data management.
“Clients started asking me to do more and more for them,” Reed says. “I kept finding issues I could solve for them, and the company started to grow.”
Then came the months leading up to the year 2000, when business leaders were losing sleep over the Y2K bug, fearing that program-coding errors could crash vital data systems on Jan. 1, 2000.
“We developed a unique process to solve problems related to Y2K,” Reed says. “That’s when RCR really started to become known and we had to start expanding and hiring a bigger team.”
Reed began to develop a growth strategy and build a multifaceted team from scratch. However, the trouble was, he was not trained in business management.
Reed quickly realized that if he wanted to grow RCR Technology, he needed to find people with skills complementary to his own. He also needed to learn the ropes of business leadership.
“I decided to stick with what I do best and find other people who had the skills I needed,” he says. “I started hiring good accountants, managers, and salespeople. I also became a member of a CEO network and learned a lot through the mentorship and networking I found there.”
Those early steps helped him build a strong foundation for growth and it shows, not just in the size to which RCR Technology has grown but also in the average length of employees’ tenure.
“Our average employee tenure is 10 years,” Reed says. “We’re very proud of that. We put a lot of investment in our people, and in making RCR a great place to work.”
Reed says keeping employees fulfilled and loyal takes more than just a paycheck, and RCR focuses on career advancement opportunities and a sense of purpose.
“Finding top talent is an ongoing challenge, so we make sure that, as we recruit people, we don’t just sell them on the job but on the company as a whole,” he says. “RCR Technology is a place to build a career. We strive to add skills and better ourselves individually and as a company. We’re active in supporting community causes in and around Indianapolis.”
All of the efforts to build loyalty would be for naught if management damages employee trust with poor, shortsighted decisions regarding the company’s future. It is why Reed has taken a careful approach to growth, even pulling the plug on an ill-conceived venture into cloud-service sales.
“RCR Technology is really good at developing cloud-based solutions,” he says. “Selling cloud services, not so much. It is just not in our DNA. A few years back, we pursued the idea that we could package and sell cloud services, and it did not work out. It was a costly lesson, but it drove home the idea that we need to focus on what we do best.”
That venture focused Reed and his team on a conservative growth strategy that closely manages risk and emphasizes positive cash flow, year over year.
“Our conservative growth philosophy has always kept us in a positive cash-flow position,” Reed says. “It is something my dad taught me early in life: Don’t buy what you can’t afford.”
As a result, RCR has never had a negative-revenue year.
“Even if it’s 1 to 2 percent, it’s still growth,” Reed says. “If you take care of your cash, you position yourself to take care of clients and employees. It’s critical to a company’s longevity, and it’s something that has served us well for the past two decades.”
Banking for life
Reed’s relationship with Huntington stretches back decades.
“I’ve been banking with Huntington since I was in college,” says Reed. “I opened my very first personal account with Huntington while still a student at The Ohio State University in the 1980s.”
When Robert founded RCR Technology in 1997, it was a natural progression to open business banking accounts with Huntington. He anticipated that it would deliver the same attentive service he had come to expect as a personal banking customer.
“Huntington staff meet with us on a regular basis, which is important as you grow the business,” Reed says. “Problems come up, and you need a bank that works to stay on top of them.”
Reed also relies on Huntington to act as a financial consultant.
“They figure out where our money should be, and where it should be invested,” Reed says. “It’s great to have a bank that works with us like that, because I need to keep my attention focused on running the business. I need a bank I can rely on to keep track of where the money is and where it should be going, and that’s why I continue to bank with Huntington.”
To learn more, visit rcrtechnology.com.