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.
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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.