Editor's Note: Jeff Sopp (above) is answering your questions this week at IT Martini on LinkedIn. 

Jeff Sopp: Always Be Recruiting
By Terreece Clarke, January 25th, 2012

When a company experiences rapid growth, people take notice. When a company lands on Inc. Magazine's Fastest Growing Companies list five years in a row, people sit up, take notice and take notes.

"Business has been good," Jeff Sopp, President and CEO of Expesite, said.

That is an understatement.

Sopp was hired to lead Expesite, a project management software company, after it spun off from WD Partners in 2003. Based in Columbus with offices in California and Ontario, Expesite offers web-based, collaborative software-as-a-service (SaaS) products to help a variety of industries including real estate, construction and facilities management.

With projections of 25 to 35 percent growth over last year, how can Expesite continue growing so rapidly in this economy?

"The economy isn't as down as people are lead to believe," says Sopp. "Our clients are expanding into new markets and are taking us with them. It's a high compliment to the company."

Making Waves

With executive leadership roles at CompuCom Systems, Sarcom Inc., Adecco Inc. and Xerox Corp. under his belt, Sopp always had a desire to run and grow his own business. He counts Lee Iaccocoa, Steve Jobs and "all successful 'wave making' entrepreneurs" among his business heroes. So how is he making waves at Expesite?

"I think I truly make waves by my philosophy of 'always be recruiting,' " he said. "I have been blessed to be able to recruit and retain the best and the brightest in our industry. Our associates make the difference. I always say, and it is more true today, our people - not the technology - makes the difference. That, to me, is making waves!”

Expesite's IT team has approximately 35 employees in the area of development, security and infrastructure. As a whole, the company has grown from 50 employees in 2010 to nearly 70 employees with hiring continuing for the Hong Kong offices.

"Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of what we do, [including] internal client satisfaction,” says Sopp. And he can prove it, “The majority of our employees come from internal referrals."

Differentiating on Technology

"We have been a SaaS provider before the name "SaaS or cloud" was even thought of," Sopp said. "Being a secure, leading edge "cloud/SaaS" company for thousands of users in over 72 countries has certainly been a differentiator for Expesite."

Sopp tied Expesite's continuing growth and success to their ability to go "deeper" by learning how clients' needs can be met with technology.

One example of this approach involved industry leader Wendy's International, Inc. Four years ago Wendy’s developed a plan to improve the quality of its products by installing double-sided grills (DSG) in many of its restaurants. The challenges of the project included monitoring and updating approximately 3,300 double-sided grills internationally while tracking and scheduling grill updates. Expesite created the technology to track DSG software updates and completion dates.

Now, by using the same technology created by Expesite, Wendy’s monitors DSG updates throughout its stores located in the United States, Canada and the Latin American Region.

What’s Next

Sopp pointed to specific technologies that will impact his company in the next two to three years, including mobile and smart devices with user interfaces with less obtrusive processes that drive efficiency.

"Technology is moving smaller and faster," Sopp said. "More people are working remotely...The surface hasn't been scratched to where wireless will go."

Leadership + Entrepreneurship

Sopp offers this advice to budding entrepreneurs, "Go after what you really want to do. Find a mentor or personal coach who will whisper and say you can do it. Go get started."

Sopp also discussed the fundamental skills a leader should have - including honesty.

"Leaders need to be more transparent than ever before," he said. "Leaders cannot be disingenuous. I'm fun, but fair. People respect that. When you're disingenuous, trust is lost."

"I haven't cracked the code yet, but I work hard everyday," Sopp said. "I've never worked harder and never had more fun."