Corporate Business Sysems CEO Tyson Johns says his boss and mentor, Jim Quesenberry, had long been removed from the firm's day-to-day operations before a severe accident at the owner's home this summer.
Corporate Business Systems moves past owner's accident
For Corporate Business Systems Inc., it’s business as usual, and business is good. For the founder and owner, personal recovery is the focus.
Three months ago, owner Jim Quesenberry had both of his legs amputated after he suffered severe burns in an outdoor accident on his east Springfield property. Quesenberry, who declined Springfield Business Journal’s interview request for this story, can’t remember the details of that early summer day, according to Corporate Business Systems President and CEO Tyson Johns. Quesenberry’s wife, Carrie, said her husband has a few memories, but they might be just what he’s been told about the explosion that occurred while working outside his home June 14.
Johns said the operations of the company – which serves the printer and copier needs of thousands of business clients across southern Missouri and northern Arkansas – have remained unaffected by the accident. While many questions remained unanswered about Quesenberry’s incident, the relatively new CEO said what matters to the staff is their longtime leader’s new path.
“At this point, it would be all speculation as to what happened. Jim doesn’t know,” Johns said. “With CBS, as a whole, there was no change operationally because we already had everybody in place.”
Corporate progress After five years with the company, serving most recently as chief operating officer, Johns was promoted to president and CEO on Oct. 1, 2013. He said while his boss and mentor is still involved in big-picture goals of the firm, Quesenberry hasn’t led day-to-day operations in years.
“Jim’s been more or less retired for several years,” Johns said, adding no one individual was in charge of daily operations for around two years before he became the company’s top executive. “You could call it management by committee, with Jim being involved in several different meetings and things like that. Ultimately, he decided we had a good team and he wanted to step away and retire.
“As Jim says, ‘I’ll chart our destination for the U.S.S. Enterprise, you just figure out how to get us there.’”
The 31-year-old Johns appears to be leading the company well. Springfield-based Corporate Business Systems, which has offices in St. Roberts, Joplin and Bentonville, Ark., is on a 22 percent revenue climb through August. Year-end revenue projections are $15 million, coming on the heels of an 18 percent sales increase in 2013.
The trajectory has kept the company searching for fresh talent. CBS has 73 employees, but it needs a few more, according to Johns. “When I first got here, we were just right at the 40 mark, so we are getting close to doubling since I got here,” he said, adding much of that staff growth has come in the past two years.
In 2011, CBS posted revenue of roughly $10 million, according to Springfield Business Journal archives. In 2012, it bought Aztec Computer Outfitters Inc. for an undisclosed amount and added its six employees to the CBS staff, bringing its total at the time to 54.
Last week, Johns said the company had four job openings to fill. This year, it has hired around a dozen employees and netted a handful of new positions. Johns said a combination of new clients and new revenue from existing clients drives the growth. The office equipment management company has a client list that includes the city of Branson and school districts in Mountain Home and Springdale, Ark., Johns said.
“We are typically not the low-cost leader. We’re not the Wal-Mart of what we do, but we strive to be the best,” he said.
The incident at the Quesenberry home, while tragic, has only served to refocus employees on the job at hand, said Johns.
The explosion Johns said he knows there was a fire involved, that Quesenberry was outside on his property, and that he doesn’t really remember the sequence of events.
Carrie Quesenberry offered few additional details, saying there was an explosion on their property while Jim was outside and it likely involved a lawn mower. She said the family is considering filing a lawsuit.
“There’s kind of a [question of] whose fault is it, the lawnmower or not, so I really can’t talk on that. I can say it was a freak fire accident at our home,” she said.
Quesenberry said if the engine blew up, a lawsuit could be a path the family pursues. She said they are speaking with lawyers, but declined to disclose the parties involved.
“There are just lots of legal issues stemming from insurance,” she said, adding she had been advised not to speak publicly about the lawnmower as its possible the manufacturer could be involved in litigation.
Rick Crismas, operations manager for Springfield-Greene County 911 Emergency Communications, said there is no record of a 911 call from the Quesenberry home on June 14. He said of the 59 fire related calls that day, none of them involved Carrie or Jim Quesenberry. He said the only call to their address that month came on June 5 for a possible stroke, and county records indicate the caller said a man at the house couldn’t breathe.
Risk factors and recovery Dr. Papaiah Sreepada, a 13-year physician and neurologist for CoxHealth, said it is common for those suffering traumatic injuries to have memory loss issues. He said the amount of memory loss could depend on the severity of the accident, as well as other factors such as age and health.
“People who have burns, their blood pressure goes low, and they can be in shock,” Sreepada said. “People who smoke, people who drink alcohol heavily and people who have underlying stroke-like symptoms with high-blood pressure and arteriosclerosis … all can be factors with people who have memory problems in these situations.”
He added folks with those risk factors often can’t react quickly or well when a traumatic event occurs.
Beyond the accident, Carrie Quesenberry said she has been overwhelmed by the community support the couple has received. A Facebook page was created – Jimmy Q’s Can’t Keep a Good Man Down – to update his recovery. It had 786 likes as of Sept. 17.
Quesenberry stayed at the Mercy burn unit for 31 days, and a post in mid-July indicated he was starting rehabilitation at CoxHealth’s Meyer Center. On Sept. 5, a video of Jim Quesenberry diving into a pool from the seat of his wheelchair had garnered 263 likes. “The tragedy was very difficult for our family to deal with, but the outpouring, the love, the prayers, the support, the friends – that’s the only thing that has made it possible to get through each day,” Carrie Quesenberry said.
While many details remain unanswered, the owner is recovering, and that’s all Johns said he needs to know. “It still to this day is not important to me what happened or how it happened,” Johns said. “The only thing that matters is that, A, he made it through alive, and B, he’s doing OK now.”[[In-content Ad]]