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Proactive approach offers clients peace of mind

Capstone Information Technologies Inc.’s value to clients goes beyond fixing broken computers and servers, co-CEO Michael Fowler says.

“As their IT department, we proactively address technology issues so everything just works,” he says. “If an employee does need help, we respond (as) quickly as if we are sitting next to their office.”

Capstone’s services include outsourced computer support, Office 365 support, hardware and software procurement, security and consulting. It targets small and midsize businesses in Rochester and Buffalo.

“We have some fantastic people here at Capstone,” says Sitima Fowler, co-CEO of Capstone. “We have folks with 25 years of experience, and we blend them together with some of the folks that might have four or five years of experience. Together, they (combine) experience and wisdom with a fresh look at the latest technologies. It’s an exciting culture geared toward serving our clients in an extraordinary way.”

With help from Capstone, many clients report dramatic improvement in their employee productivity and business growth. Capstone itself has experienced explosive growth—and some challenges with it. As a customer service company, one of the biggest challenges Capstone addresses is making sure its staff maintains a close relationship with clients.

“That’s forced us to change the structure of our organization,” Michael Fowler says. “We thought we functioned very well when we were just six people because everyone knew everything about every client. That got harder as we got bigger.”

The solution: Each client now is assigned to a team of five or six employees. These teams are dedicated to supporting a specific customer with whom they maintain a close relationship.

“We believe grow or die.” Sitima says. “We want Capstone to grow, and we are laser focused on that.”

Capstone has generated 25 to 35 percent in growth every year for the last four years.

“Every day we take a step back and see if we are on track with our three-to-five year goals,” Michael Fowler says. “We set quarterly goals, we are very formal about that. We are now managing our business with numbers rather that gut instinct.”

Michael Borlaug, operations manager at Capstone, says the Fowlers’ leadership philosophy centers around helping their employees develop, which in turn grows the company.

“As I’ve grown here at Capstone, Mike and Sitima have provided the tools that enabled me to grow,” Borlaug says. “I started as an engineer fixing servers, and now I’m managing a team and making sure that our clients are getting the service they deserve.”

Borlaug says everyone at Capstone has ownership of their responsibilities and the client experience.

“Honestly, of all of the companies I’ve worked for, they are the best leaders that I have ever had—smart, strategic, intelligent, fun, caring, understanding. They care about everything they do,” he says.

That propensity for caring is behind RochesterRockStars.com, an initiative founded by Michael and Sitima Fowler that recognizes—and gains insight from—successful CEOs in the area. Leaders share success strategies that propelled them to “Business Rock Star” status. The Fowlers hope this becomes an inspirational tool for other business professionals and entrepreneurs.

“Sitima and Mike Fowler believe that we have to look outside of our own four walls to learn and grow,” says Maureen O’Neil, marketing coordinator at Capstone. “Part of that is reaching out to the community.

“We do a lot with our own non-profit clients, but beyond that we look within the neighborhood so we are working with the school down the street and the Corn Hill Festival Association.”

The company also supports the East House, the Center for Youth, Bivona Child Advocacy Center and other organizations.

“They do an exceptional job at being a part of the community and giving back. … I think the Fowlers are extraordinary people. They have changed my life and I will never forget that,” says Lisa Nazarenko, account coordinator at Capstone.

Capstone was recently listed in the Inc. 5000 for a third time and was a Rochester Top 100 company in 2013 and 2014. Sitima Fowler says recognition benefits the company in two ways.

“First, internal employee validation,” she says. “It says to them that the company is on the right track and it helps us attract good talent. Second, it’s good validation for our clients that they are doing business with somebody who is helping other clients grow.”

The company expects to add more staff and expand its services. Michael Fowler has high hopes for Capstone’s future.

“We’ve got the people, the process and the tools in place to support our current client base as we continue to grow,” he says. “We will constantly innovate and make sure that we are relevant to the needs of our clients.”

He adds: “Capstone will continue giving clients peace of mind that their technology is taken care of so that they can focus on growing their business.”

10/9/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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