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50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2017

Providing nimble and scalable expertise at every stage of the life cycle HTG, Inc.

thesiliconreview-kermit-macaulay-president-htg-2017After spending decades in the Fortune 500 world, Kermit Macaulay wanted to spend more one-on-one time with clients, diving deeper into their needs rather than just trying to make a large corporate machine perform with little to no personal engagement. Kermit always wanted to build a flat organization, one that wasn’t just flat for him but flat for the people that do the work. His goal was to empower the individual employee to make rapid decisions adding greater value to the customer minimizing internal bureaucracy. So, in 1996, armed with little more than a vision, Kermit founded HTG, Inc.

Fast forward a decade, HTG had evolved to over 50 gearheads, strategists, engineers and other brainiacs. Now at approximately 70 employees, HTG stands for working smart and helping its clients maximize the return on their IT investment. With head offices in Vancouver, Washington, HTG’s unique single-source end-to-end IT solutions create efficiencies that can be seen in clients’ bottom lines.

To know more about HTG, we had an informative conversation with Kermit Macaulay

How did the company expand to its current global presence?

It was really borne out of a request from a long-term client; a global materials handling company. In addition to staff augmentation and helpdesk support at their local headquarters, HTG had been performing all of this company’s IT systems integration work nationwide north of 19 years. Based on our success in the US they asked us to help fix their issues in Europe by implementing our best practices model for IT lifecycle management, and we said we’d take it on at first as a consulting effort to build an international standard. It evolved into supporting 7 countries and we established a lifecycle services network including procurement, integration, installation, technical support and asset retirement. In addition to the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, and Italy, we’ve expanded this successful IT service footprint to Asia Pacific, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.  

Tell us about your first product launch.  

Our first product launch was secure lifecycle management services. We were one of the first, if not the first in our region, possibly in the industry to embrace the lifecycle chain for products. By adding a high-level security piece to that, we can now provide a turnkey lifecycle management system that remains unique in the industry. 

Discuss your first project. How was the overall experience?

It was a roller coaster ride I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. We were given 6 months to touch 1500 sites for a retail customer. However, the client was experiencing problems providing the necessary software, so eventually, we were left with only 49 days to perform what should have been a 6-month rollout. We selected one of the largest vetted outsource companies in the market at that time to help us meet this near to impossible deadline.

It started out well, but when our outsourcing company began to engage in prohibited subcontracting engagements, we saw a significant downturn until we understood and addressed the problem. We salvaged the project with our own round the clock and weekend labor that resulted in a solid B grade from the client but it was a tough project and days of lessons-learned meetings in the aftermath. 

What challenges did you face in your initial years?

One challenge that comes to mind right away is financing. It was challenging in the beginning. We were in the habit of turning our cash quickly, so we didn’t use our lines of credit that often, and the infrequent use made it challenging to keep those critical lines open. As we grew later on and wanted additional credit to fulfill increasingly larger IT service contracts, we really needed our banks and vendors. HTG would not have been able to achieve the growth it has without their support.

Justify your organization’s popularity.

Three words: One-Stop-Shop. If you look at all we do, in your typical environment you’ll probably find those services to be managed by 6 to 8 different vendors. Supply chain/ vendor management is very costly. Ours is a true one-stop-shop that can actually perform all of these services competently and at a fair price. 

‘It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it’ - How would you and your team interpret this saying?

Anybody can start a business but to maintain and grow a company? It takes the right mix of people, the right skill sets, the right vision, the right backing, and the right timing - in other words, a little luck and constant energy and innovation. From my experience, a lot of critical factors have to come in to play, not all of which we have total control over. 

What drives you to excel in your field of business?

What drives me to excel is my family.  Sounds like a platitudinous statement, but it is my truth. I also do it for my extended family, meaning all of my employees. I really look at this as a giant family. I know if I can continue to innovate, do quality work, be honest, authentic and take care of our customers, then this large extended family will thrive through merit-based upward mobility and achieve economic stability both personally and professionally.

We’re a small company but at those times when you can get 72 people pulling on a rope in the same direction it makes us a really strong company.

Can you talk about your new products?

We have recently launched two new initiatives. One of them is Zero Touch Deployments. Previously, when clients received a new end-point device, several hours were taken out of the end users’ day for the desk side replacement or to get the unit functioning up to specific customer requirements. HTG has built a system whereby we perform a complete integration of the product including migration of all user data within our integration center so that when products arrive at the client site, they are pre-configured, pre-assembled and ready to plug-in, power on and use instantly.

Another recently launched product is a portable, global video-conference room. These are run on either 802.11 wireless network or using Cradlepoint Technologies with 4G LTE. Easy-to assemble cases are shipped all over the world so clients have large format live video-conferencing within an hour of equipment receipt. 

What’s the roadmap ahead for the company?

HTG has enjoyed double-digit growth over the last five years. For the next couple of years, I see us further expanding into additional markets and have started with the development and soft-launch of new Security Services in 2017. With continued and projected steep growth within our logistics and managed services departments, we see our revenue possibly doubling again within the next two years.  

We are also looking to establish an additional facility in Memphis, Tennessee. Why Memphis? Because it is a central hub for our logistics partner and provides our clients the benefit of about $15 billion in IT products readily available within 10 miles of our proposed new location.

Knowing the CEO

Kermit Macaulay is the founder and President of HTG, Inc. Since, the inception of HTG Inc., Kermit’s primary vision then and now is to maximize IT return on investment for enterprise customers by implementing evolving technologies that improve core business efficiencies. As a seasoned systems integrator, Kermit has steered HTG through countless complex nationwide IT deployments and secure IT life-cycle initiatives.

With thirty years in the industry and recent recognition in regulatory compliance and International IT project management, Kermit maintains long-term successful partnerships with marquee Fortune 1000 companies globally.

“We love seeing businesses stay nimble, work together better and do more with their resources than they might have thought possible. So that’s how we run our own business, answering only to our customers and ourselves.”