Ridgeland-based Business Communications Inc. (BCI) is celebrating its 15th anniversary having grown from three employees in 1993 to a staff of 185 technology professionals today.
The full-service information technology provider began when computer technology was just beginning to drastically change the way America does business.
“BCI was formed when technology was just starting to boom,” said Tom Hinds, president and COO of BCI. “It began as a need to have a way to cable this new technology. We formed a structured cabling company that would aid Tony Bailey, now CEO of BCI, in selling Memorex Telex products. BCI was one of the first structured cabling companies in the state.”
Since then, the company has grown by leaps and bounds, consistently appearing as one of Mississippi’s Top 100 Private Companies. In 2007, BCI was named one of Mississippi’s 40 Fastest Growing Companies.
“Bailey joined BCI full time in 1996, and that is when the network boom really started utilizing routing and switching,” Hinds said. “And since then, there have been continual innovations in information technology. We have grown both internally as well as by acquiring other businesses. We currently operate in five states in the south central U.S. — Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and western Tennessee.”
It can be difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to keep up with all the latest innovations. Even when those technologies save time and money, they can still involve a significant investment of financial and human capital. BCI works in partnership with clients to identify, develop, and implement technology solutions that are right for their specific application. An example of this would be offering technology and software as a service.
“A lot of technologies that used to be out of reach for most Mississippi companies are now available for a fee,” Hinds said. “Both technology and software as services are really great tools for companies to obtain technology that they normally wouldn’t be able to afford. Now, businesses are able to pay to use that service instead of having to acquire it themselves.”
As technology evolves, every year there is something new. This year it is in virtual technology while a few years ago it was IP telephony. “Technology makes it possible and our people make it happen. This is more than the BCI positioning statement.” Hinds says, “BCI stays ahead of the curve by supporting ongoing training and certification for its 175-plus employees, assuring that the company’s sales and engineering teams deliver the highest possible level of expertise for the customer.”
In addition to the company’s commitment to ongoing training and certification, BCI puts a big emphasis on treating its employees well. For the past three years, the company has been a finalist in the Best Places to Work in Mississippi contest, and this past year BCI placed first in its category.
“We believe in putting the employee first,” Hinds said. “We have a very family-oriented culture. Having a great workplace is not something you do by just flipping a switch. It is a culture that exists here. We believe in our employees, treat them well, and invest in their professional development.”
BCI has grown by 30% in revenue annually since 2003, and the company attributes much of that to its employment philosophy: ‘There’s more to life than work.’
“That six-word sentence sums up our company’s belief that a healthy balance between a person’s professional and personal life is the true cornerstone of both intellectual and emotional growth and success,” Hinds said.
Where will BCI be in another 15 years? It is hard to even imagine how much IT will change in the years ahead, since many things taken for granted today were in the realm of science fiction 15 years ago.
“We don’t have the desire to be in Atlanta, Houston or Dallas — one of the big markets,” Hinds said. “We like the tier two marketplace, and this is where we will continue to grow our territory. You may see us expand to other parts of the Southeast over the next few years. We will take on additional product lines in order to continue to meet our customers’ needs.”
Understanding customer headaches has allowed BCI to be successful, says Laura Clark, vice president of sales for BCI.
“I think the thing that makes us a good company is that are familiar with our customer’s technology pain points,” Clark said. “We understand what makes them ache every day. I always talk about the wrinkles on their foreheads, and bring up solutions to the things that keep them up at night. What I’m excited about is taking the stress out of their IT environment, and helping them to become more proactive with the troubles that occur.”
Clark has frequently heard from IT managers who can’t stop to go to lunch because they are putting out fires all day long. BCI has the experience and resources to help businesses get to the root cause of their problems, which allows them to spend less time trying to find the problem themselves.
“That is part of the BCI support solutions that we have to offer,” Clark said. “We help IT managers find the root cause of the problem versus all of the symptoms. BCI’s services can tell IT managers exactly what is broken so they can manage the outage quicker. With BCI, you spend less time figuring out what the problem is. Instead, we get right to the source of the problem and implement a solution. You are not wasting time finding the needle in the haystack; you know right where the needle is.”
Clark said their goal is to help IT managers be more effective during the workday and so they can be more comfortable and relaxed at home.
“With that I’m offering a better quality of life because IT departments usually don’t have as much staff as they could use,” she said. “That is the most exciting thing going on. The bottom line is, no matter what solution BCI is implementing at that customer’s site, it will alleviate pain and make that network run more smoothly. We give businesses the tools to manage their networks, which are becoming more and more complex.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at firstname.lastname@example.org.