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Tawnie Wilson | SBJ

12 People You Need to Know in 2024: Chelsey Bode

Next-gen Moves

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After two years as CEO of Pearson-Kelly Technology, Chelsey Bode is ready for her next big challenge: acquisitions.

Bode joined her father’s company 16 years ago, moving from sales to sole owner. The handoff was never a surprise to the team of 48, who provide managed information technology, phone systems, copiers, printers and business surveillance services.

“Clients knew our plan, employees knew, recruits knew, so when the day came, we didn’t miss a beat,” Bode says.

With 2023 projected revenue of $10 million and 9% year-over-year organic growth, the company anticipated growing beyond the Springfield and Joplin markets, Bode says. So, with market analyses carried out by Missouri State University MBA classes, the company set its sights on acquisition.

“A lot of people in our culture are very competitive and want high growth,” Bode says. “I felt a responsibility to allow for that to retain those kinds of team members. They wanted it; they were hungry for it.”

On Sept. 1, 2023, Pearson-Kelly acquired Digital Printing Solutions, a Rogers, Arkansas, copier and printer supplier. With the firm’s first office across state lines, Bode plans to retain DPS’ original line of business and expand technological service offerings under the Pearson-Kelly name.

Whether it’s market expansion or team improvement, Pearson-Kelly takes data seriously. The company utilizes the Entrepreneurial Operating System toolkit to measure how team members align with core values.

“Feedback becomes analytical, how you stack up to our core values, so it’s not shaming,” Bode says. “We’ve even gotten away from reviews and now do coaching sessions.”

Looking ahead, Bode takes a predictably analytical approach, identifying three gaps that create opportunities and challenges for the business: the decline in print, hiring and retention, and maintaining calculated growth.

Bode says print poses an opportunity, because in an increasingly digital world, print ads stand out: “Sometimes going old-school is a pattern interrupt.”

Hiring and retention issues span industries, Bode says, as the cost of quality talent rises, but customers are not willing to pay more. Although a challenge, Bode says it is also a selling proposition for Pearson-Kelly’s “bench-widening” managed IT and cybersecurity services.

“It helps when you have conversations with business owners if you’re coming from a place of real-life experiences,” she says.

At home with family, those conversations continue. Bode’s husband, Kraig, launched NobleVest Private Wealth in 2021, and her father, Mike Kelly, serves in a business development capacity for Pearson-Kelly. The Bodes’ children, Ryan, 12, and Hudson, 9, also are involved, delivering cookies and gifts to clients, and tapping the IT team for help building a computer.

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