Sarasota County, Florida
Four Winds IT provides managed technology for their clients and customized IT solutions based on each of their needs.
88% increase from 2018 – 2021
163% increase from 2018 – 2021
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m originally from Pennsylvania and I went to Undergraduate for Engineering at Penn State and went on to get my master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania in Business. After college, I worked for two businesses in New England, Crane and Hubbel, which were both headquartered in Stanford, Connecticut. These were old-school, New England-based, big publicly traded companies. They did things very conservatively, which helped me gain an understanding of business practices and processes. I came through on the sales marketing side which let me spend a lot of time in England, and Italy, even Asia. I always think of myself as almost a business troubadour. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to travel the world and learn best practices from clients and businesses globally. I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned and put it back into my business to improve how we do things. My career has been consistently learning and exchanging ideas.
Did you know you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Probably unknowingly, yes, because as a child, you don’t really know what being an entrepreneur means. I was the oldest child in my family and the oldest grandchild of a big, close family. Because I was the oldest, I was always put in a position to grow and learn because I was around the adults just as much as the kids.
My wife’s father was an executive himself, so she was used to being moved around pretty frequently. Years later, whenever she and I moved around the world, she was supportive. I never felt pressure, it always felt right. She would give me the freedom to make decisions. I’m a big ‘process guy,’ and I always have a plan. I always have a structure. I always have a business model. I always have processes. That part of me kept feeding itself so becoming an entrepreneur felt like the right fit for me.
Tell us about the company and the value you bring to your customers.
The key value we provide our clients is that we’re the trusted advisor. We have a technological approach so when we meet with our clients, we ask how can we best utilize technology to improve their business. Additionally, our company culture is the engine that drives our business. It’s how we do things; it’s how we learn and grow. It’s what we call our forward business system. We’re a process-driven company, where we focus on execution, and how we drive performance. We are a performance-based culture, based on trust and respect with a strong focus on accountability.
What makes your company culture unique?
Our culture truly determines and influences everything that we do. At Four Winds, we say exceptional people develop outstanding plans and
execute them with world-class tools to construct sustainable processes resulting in superior performance. Summed us, for us, its exceptional people, outstanding plans, sustainable processes, and superior performance. If drive those things, then performance is guided by our philosophy which is rooted in quality, delivery, cost, and innovation. Those four metrics are the foundation of everything for our company, but it really starts with our people.
How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?
The key thing that really drives the company is the innovation behind what we do. What we were doing in doing in March or April is 70-80% different from what we’re doing now. That’s how fast we’re innovating. We can innovate at such a fast pace because it starts with our foundational approach. Every morning we have a morning huddle with the team where we identify the KPIs that drive our business. Every afternoon at 5:00 PM, we have a “did we do what we said we were going to do” conversation. If you couldn’t get something done, we want to know why. It’s not always the person, sometimes it’s the company. Is there a process that can be improved? Is management getting in the way? Most people want to be successful; you just need to give them the right tools. Hire the right people, and develop the right people. Listening to the needs of your employees for them to be able to do their jobs successfully and then put those things in place.
Most people I speak to say they can’t find good, young people or they can’t keep them. I’m proud to say that we haven’t lost a single person since we started. It goes back to how we hire people and develop our team. People want to be listened to and counted on and they want to grow.
How do you manage growth and innovation at such a rapid speed?
We use what’s called the Strategic Deployment Process (STP) that allows us to put stretch goals. Normally, for instance, if you only say in 2023, we’re going to grow our profit by 5%, that doesn’t always happen. Especially, depending on how much you rely on vendors, that can throw any growth plan out of whack. So, in April 2022 we adopted the STP process. This means that we speak to our vendors, share our goals for the following year and they give us any price increases or anything that could impact our business by September. By November, I have my plan finished and ready and we’re already executing the 2023 plan in mid-November of 2022. In the past, we’d typically start executing the 2023 plan on January 1 – which, means your beginning to truly execute in February or March. Before January 1, we already have the metrics, the price increases, and the processes in place. Everything is already baked, cooked finished. Now, we’re just executing.
The STP outlines stretch goals – so if our goal is to increase sales by 50%, we’re going to hit 20 – 30%. It makes the team think outside the box. We have a one-year, a three-year, and a five-year SDT and the document lays out exactly what we need to do to get there. We share the document monthly; we review it and it keeps everybody on the same page.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while growing your business?
Any entrepreneur you talk to is going to have challenging moments every day, every month, and every quarter. Especially in the last three years since COVID. These moments are never-ending, especially in the last three years with COVID, a pending recession, and inflation. There’s always something, right?
We like to live every day like the recession is here. We live every day like COVID is here. That morning huddle, the evening huddle, hiring great people, developing them to be great employees, having processes in place – we make sure we’re prepared. But we don’t get comfortable. If you saw our KPIs for 2022, we’ve hit everything that we wanted to do; everything we executed. We had a morning huddle today with the senior team and if you were to listen to it, you would have thought we’re going out of business. If anyone else looked at it they’d think we’re in trouble. Instead, we’re really hard on ourselves to constantly reach that next level and that starts with having everything in place to do so.
What does it mean to you to be selected as an Honoree this year?
It’s awesome. We’re so proud of it and recognize that it’s a very prestigious award. It was reassuring filling out the application to know that we were aligned with the hard KPIs this award measures like business growth, financial success, innovation, and community involvement.
Is there anyone special you’d like to thank?
I’d like to thank our clients, our partners, and our team. We have a really great team, and our clients are amazing. It’s a real partnership with our clients and we have fantastic team members on board. Sarasota is a great community. There are a lot of truly great people here.
Being from Pennsylvania, one of my entrepreneurial role models is Benjamin Franklin. One of my favorite words he ever spoke was, “The US Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness. Only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself” and “If I fail to prepare, I prepare to fail.” All these years later, they still apply.