Turner Technology ‘We Put People Ahead of Technology’ 1/16/17 04/18/17 12:34:22 PM
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From left, Scott Meyers, Rick Turner, and Gary Bren celebrated Turner Technology’s 25th anniversary with an open house in Omaha in November.
‘We Put People Ahead of Technology’
By Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record
Gary Bren and Rick Turner had been working together in IT at the same company, and had become increasingly frustrated by their experience. Turner left that company, and in January 1991, started what became Turner & Associates.
By the following January, Bren had become his business partner and, by June, Scott Meyers had also joined the company as a partner. Twenty-five years later, the full-service IT provider has expanded significantly, from four employees and eight clients to 24 full-time employees and between 160 to 180 active clients. And the changes keep coming.
Over the years, the firm hadn’t focused much on sales or on building its brand. Then two years ago they decided, as part of long-term succession planning, that they wanted a name that reflected what they did, and a space that was more inviting for their team.
They changed their name to Turner Technology, and a few months ago finished a full-scale remodel of their West Omaha office near 132nd & West Center Road. The project included a complete restructuring of the first and second floors.
Cosmetic changes aside, one thing that hasn’t changed at Turner Technology: their core values. And to prove it, in November they received a Better Business Bureau Integrity Award, which recognizes companies that go “above and beyond” in serving their customers, employees and communities.
“We’ve been working on preparing for growth for two years,” Bren said. “The last two steps were to bring a sales team on board and to raise our visibility. As part of our wanting to be more visible, we applied for the Integrity Awards.”
The Integrity Award focuses on “demonstrated ethical business practices, rather than on a company’s growth, profitability or popularity.” All businesses, organizations, and charities located in the BBB’s service area that have been operating under the same ownership for three years or more and have an “A” rating are eligible. An independent panel of judges from the business and academic communities select the award winners.
“The Integrity Award win was a reflection of our core values – values that start with how we treat our people,” Bren said. “For example, we had an employee who had only been with us for about eight weeks, and he told us that he needed six weeks of unpaid leave.”
Rather than react with incredulity and say no, they inquired further. They discovered that this employee and his wife had been trying to have a baby, but they hadn’t been successful. They had reached the decision to adopt a Vietnamese boy, but that required that they remain in Vietnam for some time, thus the request for so much unpaid leave.
Taking a risk, the partners told him to “take eight weeks paid vacation, become a family, then come back to work.” Bren said it was a long-term investment that paid off. “He worked for us until 2008 and was one of our hardest working, loyal employees.”
Bren mentioned another employee who was going through bankruptcy. The partners responded by helping him with financial planning and a loan. “The only way we accomplish what we do is with our people,” he said.
“We are a technology integration company, but we put people ahead of technology. We live by four principles: we treat our clients and team like family; we elevate others’ success; our actions transcend titles, and we lead by example.
“We are about customer service, productivity, and people who are engaged. We are very much about the quality of life for our staff and our clients, and we are engaged in the community.”
Turner Technology believes in the power of people managing themselves; every month, for 30 minutes at a time, employees sit down for a one-on-one with management to review performance and set realistic goals. Employees learn about their baseline cost – salary, employment tax, and insurance – to the company, and then their objective is to “hit ‘break-even’ plus 20 percent.”
“Everyone has personal development goals,” he added. “We help them to set the goals and we give them the skills to accomplish them. The purpose of this is to set clear, shared objectives that focus us on success.
“We hold ourselves accountable. The goal is for everyone to be profitable. It’s not punitive. They understand the value of the time they spend here. Our performance as a company is founded on everyone being productive and accountable. The process is designed to give them what they need to know to be productive.”
Turner Technology’s technology integration capabilities include design, implementation and support for local and wide area network solutions as well as custom software development.
“The ultimate goal is to integrate technology that’s designed to meet the client’s goals, overcome their challenges and maximize their opportunities,” he said. “We believe that technology isn’t as important as the work and people it serves.
“Technology is a hammer pounding a nail into a board. The hammer isn’t the important thing. If the hammer isn’t matched to the combination of nail and board, and the person that’s going to wield it, bad things can happen.”
When a prospective client contacts Turner Technology, he or she can expect something unique, he said. “We are committed to learning their business process and their technology. With that knowledge in hand, we can tell them ‘here’s what you can be doing. Here’s the right approach to managing it.’
“We try to be strategic and match how they use IT to maximize their productivity. We want to understand what they need as a business.”
Turner Technology provides a number of services, such as strategic planning and vision, software development, infrastructure support and tactical help. “We are good at strategic planning,” he said. “Most of our competitors don’t do this.
“Software development is [also] one of our specialties. We walk into a business, figure out what they need, and then we deliver it. As an example, H&A Media wanted custom software, and we delivered a 2,000-plus-hour project three weeks early and within 1 percent of budget.
“[As far as infrastructure is concerned], we worked with Alley V in April 2013, and they needed a complex and comprehensive network to support all aspects of the business, including a 16-lane bowling alley, video arcade, restaurant and bar, and corporate meeting spaces. They had 10 vendors and needed to get them all connected. They went from not having anything to being fully integrated in five to six weeks. We are good at addressing the full spectrum of IT needs, and we’ve been doing this for a quarter of a century.”
The IT firm believes in forging a bond with its clients, not just doing one job and moving on. In fact, many of their clients are long-term clients, including the Child Saving Institute (15 years), Quality Living (22 years), and the Omaha Community Playhouse (16 years).
Until recently, Turner Technology most commonly got its clients from being in the right place at the right time or through client referrals. Bren wants that to change.
“We are marketing ourselves and our two sales guys are helping our business grow. We want to be here in another 25 to 50 years, and we are taking steps to make that happen.”
Turner Technology’s Omaha office address is 12844 Augusta Avenue. The company also has an additional office at 415 West 4th Ave. in Holdrege, Neb. For more information, go to theturnerway.com or call (402) 333-1390.