Joy Eakins has no problem admitting she’s a nerd. It’s why clients hire her.
Eakins, a former actuary, owns Cornerstone Design & Development.
“We really work with people’s data and information,” she said. “In business, if you don’t have the right information at the right time, then you’re going to make a bad decision.”
That’s part of what’s behind the Cornerstone name.
Eakins said a building’s cornerstone “sets a true for your building, so you get straight walls.”
“Data does the same thing for your business.”
Actuarial work is what Eakins said led her to start her company under another name in Colorado in 2001.
“Out of that, we needed to build different databases … software packages or websites – all kinds of applications in order to manage the data or create reports for the data,” she said.
“A common theme for several of our clients is that they have data in several pieces of software out there, and none of them talk to each other.”
She said some companies have an employee whose entire job is to update information in spreadsheets each month.
Eakins said she likes being a translator between the technical side of a company and its business needs – “and not throw a lot of jargon” to achieve it.
She moved to Wichita in 2008 with her husband, Wichita native Eric Eakins, when he took a job with GLMV Architecture. Eakins didn’t think she could move Cornerstone here.
“It seemed hard to move a business like this.”
She said her father-in-law, Rolland Eakins, told her, “I really think your business could go. I think you should try to make a go of it.”
Rolland Eakins, CEO of TEC Systems Group, was a client in Colorado and was his dauther-in-law’s first client here.
Initially, Eakins thought she’d work from home since she had a child in kindergarten at the time.
“So I was thinking a little part time on the side.”
That didn’t last long.
“It’s grown a lot faster than I expected,” Eakins said. “There was just sort of a pent-up need for what we do.”
Last year, she said the company grew by 77 percent in revenue. The year before, there was a 26 percent gain, and in 2012, there was a 72 percent jump.
The three-employee company is located in two suites at Office Park Plaza at 4601 E. Douglas.
“I have the best team on the planet,” Eakins said.
Rebecca Hertel is senior developer.
“Becky has been involved in … programming and design work for … 20 years and just brings all this wealth of knowledge,” Eakins said.
Developer Kyle Goldstein graduated a year ago from the University of Kansas.
Eakins, an adjunct professor at Friends University, said it’s important to her to hire young people.
“That’s one of our goals.”
She said another goal is “to hire people who can actually communicate with other humans.”
She says that ability to relate ideas and explanations is among the keys Cornerstone’s continued growth.
And although she wants Cornerstone to continue to grow, Eakins said she wants it to be in what she considers the right way.
“One of the things that was really important to me was that our purpose was above profit,” she said. “We also do a ton of community service. That’s a big part of who we are.”
Eakins said, “If we’re national in 10 years, great. If we’re six people in 10 years, we’ll be happy with that as long as we’re true to who we are.”
Part of that is being authentically geeky.
“We’re pretty nerdy around here,” Eakins said. “If you came to our office, you would immediately see. … We name our projects after Star Wars characters.”
Eakins said shows such as “The Big Bang Theory” that celebrate nerds have let her know that she’s not alone.
“It’s kind of nice to know that nerds are cool now because I’ve never been in that cool category before.”
Name of Business: Cornerstone Design & Development
Year Founded: 2001
Principal: Joy Eakins
Address: 4601 E. Douglas
Phone number: 316-337-5617