IT company finds niche in central Illinois
When a Morton company that helps others find solutions came up against its own problem, where it could turn wasn't a simple matter.
DC3 Solutions was itself a company in its infancy, having launched on Feb. 1 with four people, including its three founding principals - local guys who wanted to stay local with their new firm.
"We saw a need for a company that could give consultative services to companies with problems that are struggling to find solutions. We are very focused on client solutions," said president and CEO Eric Mickels. He co-founded the company with executive vice presidents Chad Price and Rodney Roth.
"The thing was, we're all from here or this area and we wanted to plant our flag in central Illinois. We know Morton and it's a good location with the proximity to the interstates. But we also knew we wanted to become a regional company, focusing on a region within three hours in either direction from Morton," Mickels said.
Another factor, said Roth, was that the industry segments the company would focus on - manufacturing and medical technology - were areas already known in central Illinois.
"Now we are bringing a different focus to IT (information technology) jobs here, taking the skills of people coming out of college other than engineering or medicine and offering high-paying jobs. We're getting people to look at the IT sector as an investment opportunity," he said.
The result was growth, as the founders expected. But even they didn't expect it to be so rapid. DC3 now has 20 employees, including representatives in Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis, with expectations of at least 30 workers by year's end. The company outgrew its original space and needed a bigger place.
Just when it seemed that couldn't be found in Morton, Jennifer Daly got involved. The CEO of the Morton Economic Development Council heard about the problem and wasn't about to let the company get away from Morton.
"One of our tasks is to help create or retain jobs, so we certainly don't want to lose any employers. When we found out they'd started looking in other communities because they couldn't find anything in Morton, we got to work," Daly said.
DC3 did not know about an office building in Morton, the former offices of Rocke's Meating Haus. Daly got the DC3 principals a tour and they jumped at the site.
The new space is big enough to accommodate the current staff for DC3, but even more room will eventually be needed, said Mickels. "We expect more growth, without question. Companies are never short of the need for professional IT services and we believe what we offer is the best solution," he said.
Daly said she intends to keep in contact with DC3. "We want to work with them in advance for their next location. There is another company in town that is interested in building space for other businesses and that may be what we need here," she said. She added she could not identify the developer as yet.
"It would be great if that happens. Having available office and manufacturing space is critical," she said.
DC3 principals said they won't lose sleep over the possibility DC3 could become a training ground for larger companies here or in larger cities.
"As we put more emphasis on our own growth plan, we can be more attractive. We thought, 'Let's not take a good idea or funding to go to Chicago and try to tap into a larger employee pool.' We see that there is a sector we can create here," Roth said, noting DC3 Solutions believes it can reach 200 employees within five years.
Mickels said that means the company will have to pay well and offer good benefits packages. "If we are going to attract and keep people here, we will have to make it worth it. People is our main capital," he said.
Price said another factor will be that employees will enjoy the challenge DC3 will present, giving them a chance to be innovative.
It helps that DC3 can boast that it is one of only 30 companies in the world certified by Microsoft to work on virtualization solutions for its products, Mickels said.
Price likened what DC3 does - helping companies solve issues of space, the number of data servers and improving efficiency - to today's cable television box.
"The channels would represent the applications a company has. They then are consolidated into one box with one remote, making it all much more efficient. And a company can tap into it from anywhere," he said.
While the principals declined to reveal who any of their clients are, they said they were mostly companies a step below Fortune 500 companies.
While DC3 is a privately held company, with some portions of it owned by investment partners of the founders, Mickels said they would consider taking the company public in the future.
"We have carefully mapped out a plan and we are following it," he said.
Paul Gordon can be reached at (309) 686-3288 email@example.com.