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Venture Technologies on the job with high-tech solutions for 18 years now

‘We have to reinvent ourselves every month’

RIDGELAND— Venture Technologies, which is celebrating its 18th anniversary as a regional systems integration company, specializes in real world solutions to the technical needs and challenges of business.

An example is SEACAP Financial in Memphis. In July SEACAP’s office was closed for 13 days after a major storm led to power outages. “Our office was able to function by having people work out of their home,” said David Spencer, senior analyst with SEACAP Financial. “We had access to our data via the Internet. Even though we were inconvenienced, we were still able to function.”

Spencer said the accommodations for employees to be able to work from their homes was just part of the normal service provided by Venture Technologies.

Over the past 18 years founders Gerard Gibert, president and CEO, and Norman Katool, CFO, have grown the company to 80 employees in three locations: Ridgeland, Birmingham, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn.

Considering the fate of many tech companies, surviving 18 years is a significant milestone. When the company was launched in 1986 as MicroAge, few people realized how the use of microcomputer technology was going to expand dramatically at all business levels. Katool was a practicing CPA, involved primarily in audit work. Gibert was working with Andersen Consulting doing technical and project management work as well as systems design and analysis. They teamed to determine what problems businesses had that could be solved with the emerging microcomputer technology.

The businessmen started as a MicroAge franchise and with a staff of five. At the time, the only way to have access to selling high-profile microcomputer products was through affiliation with a franchise. That first year the company was named the MicroAge New Franchise of the Year, and later received the MicroAge Award of Excellence several times. In 1995, MicroAge Inc. recognized them as the most outstanding location in the nation based on consistent profitability, customer service and value-added approach to doing business.

By 1996 Gilbert and Katool decided to break with MicroAge and change the name to Venture Technologies because the company had grown to be more independent and had developed capabilities that weren’t consistent with the MicroAge image.

“We wanted a unique identity to grow the business,” said Gibert.

Gibert said that in the years since generally the biggest challenge has not been so much the rapid change in technology, but in the way technology is delivered to the marketplace.

“Our method of delivering information technology solutions to customers is constantly being re-engineered and improved to ensure that we are meeting continuously more challenging market and business conditions,” Gibert said. “Those who constantly change, create and re-invent themselves are the ones who have been around the longest. Our strength has always been in our ability to fuse business acumen and technical savvy with a rigorous approach to solving business problems. We don’t believe in implementing technology for the sake of technology.”

Recently with the downturn in the economy demand for new technology has been sluggish.

“The past two years have been some of the most challenging in the business community and in our industry in particular,” said Mark Frye, vice president of sales and marketing, Venture Technologies. “We had to change the way we sell and what we sell so that we are adding value to our customers.”

Challenges that didn’t exist earlier that are important to the business community today include computer viruses and spam. Both can be huge headaches wasting time and money.

As Frye points out, in business, time is money. So, the amount of time employees spend dealing with unsolicited e-mail or spam is an important consideration. Recently Venture Technologies was tapped to help Cellular South institute a better solution to the spam problem.

“We had a solution in place to deal with the problem, but it was a manual process, and that in itself was time consuming,” said Nathan Miller with Cellular South. “We had to manually screen what could and couldn’t go through. And we had to stay on top of things constantly. Spammers are smart — they are always looking for ways around anti-spam software.”

Venture Technologies suggested an innovative anti-spam software package by Brightmail. Miller said they were impressed with the ease of deployment and manageability of Brightmail.

“And best of all, it really works,” Miller said. “We took advantage of the free 30-day trial to make sure the package fit our needs.”

Brightmail Anti-Spam software captures unsolicited bulk e-mail spam and ensures that legitimate e-mails are reliably delivered. During a recent week 21,000 of 31,000 e-mails that came into the Cellular South system were blocked.

“That’s a huge volume of e-mails, which represent a huge savings of time,” Miller said.

Venture Technologies handles a variety of clients with a number of challenging projects. Gibert said the company makes sure projects are complete on time and within budget. A few of the most challenging projects were completed for the Mississippi Department of Human Services, the New Jersey Department of Corrections, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Memphis Light, Gas and Water.

A major accomplishment for the company was the launch of their new Data Center in 2002, marking Venture Technologies’ entry into the managed services business. Gibert said the belief is that there will continue to be a shift toward managed services and on-demand computing and technical service. The Data Center was opened to prepare for those demands.

With so many technology-based businesses failing around the country, Gibert says the secret to the longevity and success of Venture Technologies is simple.

“We have to reinvent ourselves every month,” he said. “We’ve survived due to our ability to foresee changes in the market and adapt to them. Our greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that we are enhancing the quality of life for our customers, employees and all that we serve.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at bgillette@bellsouth.net.


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