It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I always envisioned starting an article about a personal experience in my life with those particular words. Five-Star Technology Solutions was a dream in 2003-2004 that became reality in 2005.
A few of the most common questions I am asked is why I created the company, where did the name originate, and how did it become what it is today? I have been asked to write a book and perhaps one day I will do just that to help others who are interested in understanding the mind of an entrepreneur. The sacrifice and willingness to succeed in business is quite honestly not for the faint of heart. For me, the status quo has never been acceptable. This mentality most likely also explains my obsession with such things as being good at the game of golf. Anyone that has been around the education industry for any length of time has undoubtedly heard the phrase “that is the way we have always done it.” It was this very phrase I heard on multiple occasions while working in a school district myself, that motivated me to create Five-Star Technology Solutions. The experience of growing the company has been challenging, rewarding, frustrating, overwhelming, chaotic, fulfilling, and stressful all at the same time. I will keep this short and sweet, saving additional details for the book later in life.
First, a quick explanation regarding the company name – the topic is actually quite simple to explain. I knew what the company was going to provide (ie. Technology Solutions) and we all tend to purchase items based on a rating or review system (ie. Five-Star). Therefore, the name stuck and also explains what we strive to always provide as a company which is Five-Star Technology Solutions. Even today we receive comments from customers about our five-star service, or in some exemplary scenarios, customers like to recommend we receive a six-star rating. The company name markets who we are as a company while also giving the internal team a goal to strive for daily.
Personally, I have a business degree from Indiana University and a few high-level engineering certifications that in my network engineering days made me appear somewhat like a doctor when you read my signature line. Today I have no credentials behind my name, only the letters CEO, with those three letters somehow translating to omniscient. The fact of the matter is the strength, experience, and expertise of the team around any one person is what truly dictates success. The success of Five-Star Technology Solutions over the years has everything to do with the passion and dedication of our team. Therefore, I firmly believe the saying holds true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
In the beginning, in 2005, I was not fortunate enough to have an amazing team that makes the company what it is today. Initially, I had the engineering skills I had acquired on my own and a business degree. Therefore, the company was established around providing technical support services to school districts, small businesses, and even home residences in the local area. In 2007, two years later, the company had the necessary stability to offer full-time employment to two individuals I trusted and respected over the years. As a side note, I am proud to say these two team members are not only still with the company today but they are also at the heart of our solutions. This was the initial team and it meant I was no longer supporting clients on my own. I could actually have a vacation day or two, and even a sick day – happy days! The creation of this team also allowed the company to branch into software development, which has always been a personal fascination.
Fast forward to 2010, the company was continuing to grow but we were starting to focus more on K-12 school districts. Again, with a firm belief in teamwork, I was ready to start building a respectable and experienced K-12 Leadership Team. I had tremendous respect for an administrator at a local school district and asked this individual to join the company full-time as our first Director of K-12 Services. I am also proud to say this team member is still with the company today having vital organization skills, plus a passion to succeed, that keeps us driving forward. Looking back, it is and always has been about the team.
Since 2010 we have continued to refine our offerings and focus on our core competency which is delivering a continuous improvement strategy to the K-12 school districts we serve through managed services, integration services, and software solutions. I have made easy decisions over the years and of course very difficult decisions. However, every decision has been instrumental in helping shape the company and the strong reputation we are known for today. Given my passion for education, I am often asked if I have kids of my own. My response is always the same – today I have 83 and perhaps tomorrow I will have 84 or 85. The company has always been family to me and I am fully dedicated to not only achieving our collective goal of helping all students reach their full potential in the classroom, but I am also committed to helping each individual on our team succeed.
Over the years there have been successes and there have been failures. The successes we repeat, and build upon, while we adjust and learn from the failures. I am beyond blessed to have an amazing group of engineers, developers, directors, sales advisors, trainers, technicians, analysts, specialists, and more that makes the company who we are today. It is these folks who enable us to achieve all our major accomplishments and it is the collective team that has shaped my overall experience of growing this company to what it is today. As I began this article…it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but I would not change anything regarding the overall experience.
Written by Jim Benson