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WOTC: How CB Technologies Grew From Spare Bedroom To Solution Provider Powerhouse

CEO Kelly Ireland tells attendees how she stayed ahead of the curve by hiring top engineering talent, gaining high-level certifications and forging a culture of respect for employees and customers.

"Be squeaky."

That's a life motto that has carried Kelly Ireland from being a single mother, with no support, to building a multimillion-dollar solution provider business that has managed to stay ahead of the technology curve and grow at astronomical rates, she said in a keynote at The Channel Company's Women of the Channel West event in Napa, Calif., this week.

To the CB Technologies CEO, being "squeaky" means no matter how great you are or what you've done, your story will get lost if you don't repeat the message and keep pushing forward. That's a message Ireland said has helped her grow her business in an accelerated way and successfully evolve the business to a next-generation model of solution provider.

[Related: 2016 Women Of The Channel: Female Role Models I Admire]

Based in Orange, Calif., CB Technologies was started in 2001 in a spare bedroom. A reseller at the time, the company had one client – Boeing – and about $2 million in revenue.

A decade later, the company had grown to $60 million in revenue and 45 employees. The company had evolved from its reseller roots, adding technical resources, getting top partner certifications, and developing a specialization around high-performance computing, Ireland said.

Just last year, CB Technologies had grown even further to around $85 million and more than 45 employees, more than half of which are engineers. More importantly, Ireland said CB Technologies has continued to pivot itself to stay ahead of the channel curve, investing in hiring some of the best technology resources in the country, expanding its list of strategic partners, and building high-value solutions that solve real customer problems. The company will be launching four new solutions this year, she said, a far cry from the reseller the company was just 15 years ago.

"The transformation is off the charts," Ireland said, adding that the company hopes to hit $100 million in revenue by the end of this year.

Other than technology, CB Technologies has put a big emphasis on its culture. In particular, Ireland said she has enforced a strong work-life balance, a culture of respect and a focus on building a quality team environment. For that reason, Ireland said many of the employees that started with the company in the spare bedroom are still with the solution provider today.

"From my viewpoint, the way I treat my employees is why my customers love my company," Ireland said. "It's because they're very engaged, very involved, and embrace what we provide."


How CB Technologies has positioned itself is a parallel to where the industry is going, Liz Anthony, senior vice president of marketing at ViON, said in the presentation. She said the channel is becoming more complex and customers are demanding professional services and solutions.

"That is really a different conversation that we're having," Anthony said. "I think it’s a better conversation than just how many boxes did you sell this quarter."

The challenge, Anthony said, is that it is difficult for resellers to make the transition, especially the small and medium businesses. CB Technologies is one success example, she said.

As the solution provider now looks to continue its growth trajectory, Ireland said the five-year plan includes a continued focus on company culture and team composition. To keep up with technology changes, Ireland said CB Technologies will continue focusing on building strong customer relationships, as well as continue its push to offer new solutions.

"It's all about that relationship. It's all about being respectful to your partners and what you can bring in and seeing what you can create," Ireland said. "It is an evolution. It's a revolution and it's just going to roll quicker and quicker."

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