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Head Geek has found right mix for tech company

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 21, 2011, at 12:07 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 21, 2011, at 10:04 a.m.

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Small Business Awards: Finalists

Simply put, small business is big business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small firms represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms, employ just more than half of all private sector employees and pay 44 percent of total U.S. payroll.

Locally, 85 percent of the 1,500 businesses in the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce have 100 employees or fewer.

Today, we highlight 10 of those businesses. The finalists for the 2011 Small Business Awards.

The finalists compete in two categories — those with one to 25 employees and those with 26 to 100. The winners will be announced at a luncheon on May 11.

Not many CEOs have a zombie climbing out of their conference table.

But there it is, in Bill Ramsey's office. So not only is Ramsey pretty different, he's pretty successful — last year he boosted his company's profits 400 percent and was named 2011 Kansas Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Ramsey founded the Bill Guy Technology Solutions in 2001 as pretty much the same as every other small tech support company. Clients would call in a panic and he would scramble over to fix the problem.

But Ramsey stood out because he combines Techno Geek skills with an engaging personality. His company grew rapidly. In one year, he went from one overworked guy, himself, to seven.

Now, he no longer does the tech repairs directly, working as CEO of eight employees. That has given him a chance to show off a new talent: business strategist.

Over the past year he has shifted the company from fixing problems when they arise to keeping them from happening in the first place.

The difference for the Bill Guy is huge: more predictable income, more-even demand on employee time that allows for more clients with same workforce, happier clients, less stress all around.

"You're paying us a fixed fee each month and if your stuff breaks it starts eating in what we make. So we want it run as smooth as possible all the time. It's a win-win for us and the client."

The formula has been a winner, Ramsey said, allowing him to grow revenue while limiting expenses.

"I see growth in the business, as far as the number of clients we're taking on," he said. "As far as the number of people to support them, it's actually been less because we have been able to run things efficiently, so we need fewer people to support them."

That kind of success is reinforcing Ramsey's natural generosity. Valuing his employees isn't just talk:

"If we've got it, I like to spend it on them," he said. "We just went to Breckenridge (Colo.) this weekend for Beer Fest. We rented an RV."

And living through two strokes — caused by a heart defect, since repaired — has directed his charitable impulses toward raising stroke awareness in the community. He is about to start a campaign to raise money for stroke awareness and to assist Via Christi Stroke Center.

And, of course, Ramsey continues to push ahead with the business.

Once he fine-tunes the company's operations under the new model, he plans on moving into new territory: a mobile strategy for clients.

Ramsey said he likes being the owner. He gets to create a company that pulls it all together: tech, sociability, business strategy.

That's why his business card lists his job as HGC —Head Geek in Charge.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com.

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