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SP500 Winner: Business Transformation - Advanced Evolves To Integrator

It's a tremendous challenge to transform a tried-and-true business model to meet changing industry conditions. Yet, Advanced Systems Group, which started out as a ComputerLand franchise in 1980, has pulled it off--multiple times.

Today, Advanced Systems Group (Virtual Enterprises Inc. is the parent) is a systems integrator with revenue in excess of $150 million, 115 employees, and a focus on data management and storage. The company has relationships with a broad range of vendors, including Brocade, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM and many others. It has 16 offices spread across the western United States.

Founded by President David Sosnowski, the company originally grew to include some eight ComputerLand stores in the Denver area. John Murphy, Sosnowski's University of Colorado schoolmate, joined the company in 1989 and created Advanced Systems Group, a side business that leveraged Murphy's experience as a Sun Microsystems VAR selling computer-aided design (CAD) systems.

In the early 90s, when things went sour with ComputerLand, the dealership portion wound down "and Advanced Systems Group became the business," Sosnowski said. Customers began asking for a range of services and technologies, so Advanced evolved into a broader-based systems integrator and supplier of IT infrastructure. The CAD business was phased out, and the company began to focus on data management, data storage and storage-area networks.

"We're really focused on helping customers manage [data], back it up, secure it [and] have it available for disaster recovery. That's really our predominate value-add," Sosnowski said.

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