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From left: Mike Kelly, Chelsey Bode and Lee Flood
Cynthia Reeves | SBJ
From left: Mike Kelly, Chelsey Bode and Lee Flood

2022 Economic Impact Awards 16-29 Years in Business Finalist: Pearson-Kelly Technology

Leadership Moves

Posted online

Last year marked the culmination of a decade of succession planning at Pearson-Kelly Technology when Chelsey Bode purchased the remaining 81% of the information technology solutions business from her father, Mike Kelly.

“That had always been strongly communicated to the organization, even in recruiting conversations,” she says of the October 2021 transaction. “We were very transparent about what that succession plan looked like.”

Kelly stayed on as an employee and is focused on business development, Bode says.

Bode’s new role as the company’s sole owner and CEO was the first of two major leadership changes at the company. The second came five months later when Lee Flood, a Pearson-Kelly employee since 2014, was appointed president.

Bode, who previously held the president position, says Flood has been an integral part of the company’s growth. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, its revenue rose to $6.8 million in 2021, a 28% year-over-year jump.

“Seeing his innate characteristic of not ever winning at the cost of another department or another team member or client was just very attractive to me and continued to build trust over the years,” she says. “I felt like it was time and he earned it. He’s a fan favorite within our organization. It was time to apply the proper title to that.”

Pearson-Kelly’s focus in recent years to expand service offerings beyond printers, copiers and other office equipment has fueled growth. In recent years, the company has added managed IT services, Voice over Internet Protocol  and surveillance cameras to its service portfolio. Revenue for VoIP, the newest offering, grew 1,800% last year from 2020.

“It’s easier to have massive percentage growth whenever it’s a smaller division and in its early days,” Bode says, noting the new service accounts for roughly 6% of company revenue.

The company also has managed to boost its employee count 20% amid the pandemic, largely in its IT and implementation departments.

“We have a very aggressive growth plan in place and vision as an organization,” Bode says.

Still, she says challenges persist, particularly in the supply chain. One example is the company has a $1.3 million backorder of copiers.

The company has its eye on expanding into northwest Arkansas, but Bode admits a move isn’t imminent.

“If somebody can get me a crystal ball and tell me when products are going to show up, I could also look in the crystal ball and tell you when that launch date is going to be,” she says. “We’re going to be methodical, and we’re not going to push things that could potentially compromise getting spread too thin.”

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