VerityThree Founder Finds Validation in HTG Peer GroupsMon, 16 Apr 2012 38:49
“When you’re surrounded by success, failure is not a consideration,” said Jonathan Smith, president and founder of VerityThree, a technology solutions provider headquartered in McHenry, Illinois.
Growing up, Jonathan watched his father build a thriving engineering firm from the ground up in the midst of a recession. It was this firsthand perspective of fearless entrepreneurship that would eventually lead Jonathan on a similar path of his own.
At age 20, when most of us were still trying to figure out what to do with our lives, Jonathan, along with friend Pete Smothers, founded VerityThree. The young businessman was in his junior year of college when the company, which offered technology and website development, was incorporated in 1999. Ten years after VerityThree’s founding, Jonathan started hearing great things about a network of IT professionals that met on a regular basis to share best practices. Intrigued, he attended his first HTG Peer Group meeting in August 2009. He has been a dedicated member ever since.
“I reached out to HTG because I recognized that there’s a whole level of experience out there that I don’t have,” Jonathan remembers. “I could either wait for that experience or join up with partners to get it.”
As a member of HTG Peer Groups, Jonathan was able to tap into years of collective experience from veterans in the IT field. He’s had the chance to sit down and compare notes with other IT
business leaders, formulate strategies and craft his “four plans”: life, leadership, business and legacy, which are required for HTG membership.
Within the positive environment created by HTG, Jonathan was able to discuss business challenges with his group – a group he says helps everyone “keep their ducks in a row.”
“HTG brings a culture of accountability from a community of the most well respected people in the IT solution provider industry.”
In one instance, Jonathan was in the middle of a quarterly peer group meeting when he received an urgent call from his office. One of VerityThree’s biggest clients needed a major job completed within a quick timeframe: 72 hours.
Though the notice was short, the timing was impeccable. After all, Jonathan was in the presence of some of the most talented IT leaders in the country. He immediately returned to his group and explained the situation. In true HTG fashion, the group members put their heads together to come up with the best plan for conquering the project. For Jonathan, the positive reinforcement that underscores all of HTG’s programs provides much needed support in his role as VerityThree’s president.
“There are so many intelligent people out there, and when you have an idea, you wonder if it’s the best thing to pursue,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to be able to gain validation from successful industry veterans.”
Jonathan’s leadership style, which has been heavily influenced by his HTG involvement, is one that gives his employees ownership of their individual tasks.
“I’m a big believer in delegation. I hire the best people possible with unbelievable work ethics. I let them completely take ownership of their visions,” he said.
In order to facilitate his employees’ visions, Jonathan shares the company’s financials with his executive leadership team on a monthly basis so they can see where the cash is coming from and where it’s going.
“I have to be very vulnerable,” he said. “It takes a deep level of trust.”
He also believes that talented professionals are looking for great leadership. “It’s my responsibility as president to lead and create a framework that is loose enough for employees to feel they can use their talents, but measurable enough for us track our progress as a company.”
In addition to gaining leadership skills, HTG has also given Jonathan a deeper appreciation for the importance of relationships within the channel.
“We know we can’t do this on our own. Building relationships with strategic partners and preferred vendors is also fundamental to our success,” Jonathan notes. “One of our most significant partnerships is with HTG Peer Groups.”
In fact, Jonathan holds the partnership with HTG in such high regard that VerityThree is committed to supporting all aspects of the organization by making substantial time, financial and personal commitments to it.
“Neglecting to participate in HTG’s quarterly two-day meeting would mean missing out on key business reviews, benchmarking, technology evaluations, planning, sharing of best practices and goal setting,” he said.
What began as one business student’s dream has catapulted into an enterprise that brought in $4.5 million in 2011, and was named one of the “Top 200 IT solution providers in North America” by MSPMentor. And while Jonathan may be a chip off the old block just following in his father’s footsteps, he gives a great measure of credit to HTG Peer Groups for the businessman he is today.
“Everyone needs validation. HTG gives me that and much more.”