A Passionate Focus Transforms an IT Company: Mike Maddox ASKWhen Mike Maddox, President of ASK, heard his name called as the 2015 Entrepreneurial Spirit Award winner by the Greater Lansing Business Monthly, he was quick to credit his team.
“The award in my mind is an award for the company. The truth is you are just a part of the process, nobody can do anything on their own. You can have an idea, you can have charisma, you can drive people and you can motivate, but if you don’t have a group of people that are on board with you, rowing the oars every single day, you are not going to get anywhere,” said Maddox.
Lansing-based ASK was founded in 1993 and was a premier business partner for IBM. In that role, ASK was the provider of IBM’s large system hardware, software and support for most of the area’s large multinational businesses.
Maddox never thought of himself as an entrepreneur; he was working for IBM as the Sales Manager Engineering Software, Central U.S.. In 2004, when he considered coming to ASK, he had a successful career making good money and moving up the ladder in management. Yet he was impressed by ASK’s extremely loyal customer base and how they allowed their clients’ best interests to guide every decision they made. It was his passion that finally led him to make the move.
“I came into an existing company that was successful and profitable, but had to completely break it down and rebuild it on a completely different business model. It was very entrepreneurial now that I look back on it,” said Maddox.
High RiskIn 2004, Maddox began an effort that would completely change the focus of the company, its business strategy and its target market. Yet the risk was great.
“The small staff that we had was all in. It was a huge risk because they were making money and here I come along and say we are going to change everything. Thankfully they were in complete agreement, and they believed in what we were doing,”
Maddox recognized the tremendous need for IT consulting services for small and medium businesses in Michigan. He knew every business depends heavily on their technology and it was apparent that IT companies were driven by the wrong motives — selling hardware and software.
“Hardware is a commodity, it has no inherent value. The only value is in whether it can make that business more productive, or make it more money,” explained Maddox.
“New business would be based on consultative services and recurring managed revenue. The clients would pay us based on our consultative abilities, not on the hardware or software they bought,” said Maddox.
ASK’s Managed IT Services model takes the burden off of the business owner. “It means we take care of your technology as a business owner so you can focus your efforts on running your business,” said Maddox. They can provide a business owner with unlimited technology support.
Huge RewardThis transformation was made possible by instilling a passionate focus within ASK to a new way of doing business. This included a focus on service-based solutions as well as new marketing, advertising, branding, and training programs and processes. Remarkably, ASK was able to achieve all of this while increasing real total revenue. In 2011, the company turned the corner. They saw the new business model surpass the old business model in revenue and net income.
Since implementing the new business model, sales revenue has increased 340 percent and the size of staff has tripled. They established a 24-hour Network Operations Center in Lansing and added hundreds of customers across the state of Michigan as well as a number of other states and international locations.
“We’ve gotten to the point now where the growth is more rapid than it was from 2007 on. The only way that we can manage the growth that we’ve had in the last few years is to have the right people, the right tools and the right processes and we’re at that point,” said Maddox.
Looking ForwardASK expects to maintain double digit growth over the next 10 years. According to Maddox, they are looking to expand into Grand Rapids and Detroit within the next two years in order to better service the growing number of clients in these areas.