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Cynthia Reeves | SBJ

A Conversation With ... Tyson Johns

Director of Finance, Pearson-Kelly Technology

Posted online

You led Corporate Business Systems for seven years, followed by another three years after it was acquired by SumnerOne. After you separated from the company, what were you looking for in your career?
After 10 years of taking a small company and making it big and then going through an acquisition to be part of an even bigger company and then running that division really successfully, I frankly took time to do nothing. I traveled and just reassessed what I wanted to do. I’ve always had a passion – kind of that nerd with a personality – I want to be in accounting and finance. I’m not going to shut the door of ever becoming a CEO again, but for the time being, I wanted a place where I could be the (chief financial officer) because I just have so much passion for the numbers. And then I wanted to be in a place that I felt culturally made sense for me, that work-life balance. I was very interested to know how they treated their employees during COVID. I wanted a place that’s growing fast, still smaller, but that’s got big aspirations.

Are you in a new position for Pearson-Kelly, and what was your journey to the role?
It actually was basically a new position through growth. If we’re really going to continue on this pace to meet these lofty goals, which right now we’re on track to do all those things, we’d really like to go out and find somebody that can kind of step in and just kind of take over admin and finance and that operational side and just kind of run with it. [Owner] Chelsey [Bode] and I had been competitors for 10 years, but I actually went to college with her. So, purely by happenstance, I had reached out to her and just said I’d love to grab coffee and tell you that from what I’m hearing, you guys are doing a great job. She graciously said let’s do it. I start messing around on their website to see if there’s any updates. Sure enough, there’s the posting for the job. It seemed like everything that I was thinking of, that flexibility, that fast-growing company, great culture. I hit apply.

What are the goals you’ve been tasked with in this role?
Especially in the short run, the traditional director of finance, CFO, it’s making sure the (profit and loss) is in order, making sure analytics are being run, strategy on top-line and bottom-line growth. The other thing is with all my experience, it’s creating budgets that are very strategic in order to hit certain benchmarks, not only internal benchmarks, but industrywide benchmarks, and then putting forth processes and action plans.

Being in the managed information technology industry for a decade, where do you see growth opportunities?
I learned long ago that this industry, in particular, is people buying from people. If my No. 1 thing is to be in banking, well, I don’t want to have to worry about a copier. I don’t want to have to worry about a printer. I don’t really even want to have to worry about my IT. I just need it to work – whether it’s compliance, whether it’s safety, whether it’s security. If I have one vendor that’s really good and a great steward with my money, truly showing themselves to be a good partner, and if I can have one vendor instead of five, I’m getting one invoice instead of five, I got one time to meet every quarter with this person, and I know they’re going to take and run with and bring me action items. Now, I can take all that time I saved and do what I’m supposed to do. That’s the upside.

You mentioned expansion. What is PKT’s employee count, and what are those new services?
We’re at 48, but we also have five roles that are open. Our business is growing fast for a multitude of reasons. You’re talking about finding a niche of employees (where) traditionally speaking Springfield, Missouri, is not this tech capital of the world. Going through an employment pool, getting great talent in – the colleges do a fantastic job of turning them out; we’re constantly looking there. Our traditional line, the copier/printer, it’s grown through COVID. Phone systems, cameras, those two have just absolutely blown up. The new phone systems now basically have an app on your computer and an app on your cell phone, so yes, you have a desk phone, you might not ever touch it. It’s high-tech phone systems that are really affordable. The other thing is security cameras that are big for a multitude of reasons; there are some COVID reasons of wanting to know who is coming in and coming out. The managed IT, we have done a really good job of creating a lane, and that’s what we stay in.

Tyson Johns can be reached at tyson.johns@pearsonkelly.com

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