Q: Describe your company.
A: In the end we provide software, hardware or provide technology services for businesses of any size and in any industry. We have broken down our solutions into two major practices: data center solutions and cloud solutions. Depending on whether or not our customer wants to continue growing their infrastructure on-premise, we can provide them enterprise storage, data protection or security solutions from our data center practice.
If the customer has some specific applications or services that are available for cloud deployment, we can help them migrate to a cloud provider as well. In some instances, we provide customers with a hybrid solution where they continue to maintain some on-premise infrastructure and some solutions in the cloud -- to test the waters without fully jumping in. We are based in Aurora and typically work with customers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana or Iowa in the following industries; health care, state/local government, manufacturing and print.
Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
A: Yes, we plan to add additional marketing/sales and or technical staff to keep up with our customer demand.
Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?
A: Our office space is pretty full, so if we add a few more employees, we may need to expand our existing office, add an office in Chicago or look for a larger office to accommodate for our growth.
Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?
A: Migrating applications or systems to a cloud provider, ransomware and cyber issues.
Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?
A: When starting out, find a partner or vendor who can help you grow the business right away. The other person or firm should add a strength to the company; if you're the CEO and are focused on engineering, find a partner who can help with sales and marketing. If you're more focused on sales and marketing, find a vendor who can help with operations, finance and pricing.
Having one half of the puzzle on the shoulders of another interested party will allow you to sleep better at night.
Q: Do you have a business mantra?
A: Promise less, deliver more.
Q: From a business outlook, who do you look up to?
A: My CFO Terry Moore. He shares great experiences from his previous companies that relate to where we are or where we are going.
My old boss Dan Eidem, at EDS (first job out of college.) He helped me learn research techniques, with writing, getting your point across in 30 seconds, etc.
Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?
A: I named the company after the street name I grew up on in Chicago, Merrimac Avenue. When we were looking to start the business in 2004, we read an article about how actors sometimes use the street name they grew up on as their stage name.
I also did not want to pigeonhole the company with a name that was very niche orientated -- like storage solutions or virtualization solutions. So voila -- Merrimac Solutions.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Play baseball and board games with my son Jack, read IT technical books -- I like to know how things work; attend sporting events; baseball and football and play golf.
Q: What book is on your nightstand?
A: "Linchpin" by Seth Godin.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: I can't sleep when I am building a solution for a customer and haven't nailed it down yet. Or if I wake up and think about a new solution, then I can't go back to sleep.
Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?
A: Coaching baseball or teaching an IT class.
Q: What was your first paying job?
A: I had a paper route when I was in 7th and 8th grade. We delivered the Chicago Tribune to homes along Archer Avenue in Chicago and it was hilarious to try and carry 10 or more of the Sunday newspapers (that were huge) on your bicycle.
Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?
A: WRIGLEY FIELD!
So jealous when I see those company names plastered on the tarp or a huge sign in the outfield. Some day.
Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?
A: When we first started out, around 2006, we still ran the business from our home. A customer dropped by, thinking it was our office, and talked with my wife for 20 minutes. We got the deal, so I should have paid my wife a commission. At that point, we knew we had to rent an office.
Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.
A: @1871Chicago, because they're working with local business and entrepreneurs and @HarvardBiz -- they share great articles about management, marketing and business planning.