JMark Business Solutions Inc. President Thomas Douglas says the company’s treatment of employees is a statement of “attitude” and backing words up with action. With happier employees comes greater retention and better outcomes for clients, he says.
The information technology and network management firm covers 100% of employees’ insurance premiums and 70% for their families. It’s one way JMark rewards employees.
“It’s one thing to say that you appreciate your employees. It’s another thing to back it up with action,” Douglas says. “That is what creates the retention. We show it as well as we say it.”
Douglas says such company benefits as insurance takes a weight off employees’ minds, allowing them to focus on customer solutions. They don’t have to worry as much about their children receiving health care, for instance.
“It’s meaningful because we’re a family-oriented company,” he says. “That speaks to people.”
When it comes to JMark’s work or to its clientele, Douglas says a preventive approach the company pivoted to years back is paying increased dividends.
Instead of waiting for a problem to arise with clients’ technology, JMark implements systems that head off problems before they exist. And of course, if existing technology is impacted, employees are ready to provide relief.
Douglas sees his company as a partner with clients, keeping them up to date in the quickly moving world of technology.
“Whether they want to be or not, every business is a technology business now,” he says. “If you’re not using technology to innovate … then you’re going to get out-innovated and left in the dust – and you’ll become a Blockbuster.
“It’s important that we take that burden as the technologists.”
Douglas says he realizes the world of technology is complicated, which is why that “burden” is placed on JMark rather than its clients.
By earning trust, IT companies have become advisers in the modern age, a role Douglas and JMark take seriously. He sees tech industry professionals being akin the professions of lawyers and bankers.
“Technology is complicated and it’s intimidating and overwhelming and never-ending in change,” he says. “Our job is to study the landscape of technology and then bring to bear the biggest things that have an impact on our clients. I think that’s what a good adviser does.”
As with most industries, 2020’s coronavirus pandemic threw a curveball at JMark’s business operations. Still, Douglas projects roughly flat revenue this year.
He says when stay-at-home orders went into effect, JMark was busy helping clients adapt to become remote-operating businesses. That meant the deployment of myriad laptops and WiFi hotspots, and Douglas says tickets were up 30% during the “monthlong scramble to get to work from home.”
Some companies were going remote for the first time, he says, noting that conversely, clients in industries such as hospitality went offline due to the pandemic, resulting in a revenue offset.
Douglas says the pandemic has resulted in a “digital transformation” that would not have happened for another two or three years without it.
“It’s exciting. On one hand, it’s unfortunate that this is what caused it,” he says.
Read profiles of this year's honorees.
Aaron York, general superintendent of Donco 3 Construction, describes what he sees in the construction job market in Springfield in 2021. Rachel York is the co-owner of Donco3 Construction.
Jim Meinsen gives his advice for finding new clients as the owner of a new or existing business. Jim and Debbie Meinsen own TCI Graphics, and recently celebrated 50 years in business.
Jeramey and Julia Henson discuss the reason they and HM Dentworks co-owner Chris McWhirter started the HM Dentworks Academy. With the job demands of their field taking them across the country, all three felt that they needed a plan for the future.
Caleb Scott, owner and coach of the Queen City Insane Asylum, says the name for the team was chosen lightheartedly. He said the name also catches people's attention.
Barak Hill gives advice based on what he learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and how it affected his business. He says we should all have a backup plan ready to use.
Sandy Higgins, owner of the Crackerjack Shack, recommends the book "The E-Myth Mastery" by Michael E Gerber. She says it changed the course of how she runs her business.
Aaron York describes the work culture he tries to foster at Donco3 and why he attributes to it a part of Donco3's success. Rachel York is a co-owner of Donco3 and Aaron is the General Superintendent.
Hollie Elliott, executive director of the Dallas County Economic Development Group, explains how local schools factor into business decisions and affect a local community.
Rachel Barks, owner of Artistree Pottery, says an important lesson she learned was not to over-expand and to do her research before hand. She gives examples from her experience as a startup business owner.
Jim and Debbie Meinsen own TCI Graphics, and are now celebrating 50 years of business. Jim Meinsen takes some time to explain his philosophy on debt, and how to stay out of it.