Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Interview With…Matt Hyatt, President, Rocket IT

Persistence and dedication are two words to describe Rocket IT's successful climb. Starting his own company at age 25 with little more than an idea and a plan, Matt Hyatt was born to be an entrepreneur. But it wasn't easy.

Sweeping changes in the industry and massive new competition, followed by unpaid collections from his largest customer, left Matt's fledgling company burdened with debt and unable to meet its obligations. Facing possible bankruptcy, Matt moved the company home and completely transformed the way he did business, working for more than a year without salary to repay creditors and to breathe new life into Rocket IT.

Today, Matt and his team have much to celebrate on his company's 15 year anniversary. Since 2002, Matt has grown his technology support company from only himself to nine employees. Rocket IT has enjoyed remarkable growth in a challenging economy, too. In 2009, company revenues grew more than 24 percent and profits grew a whopping 331 percent. Similar past successes brought him recognition last year when he received the Small Business Person of the Year Award for the 1-9 employee category at the Gwinnett Chamber's Pinnacle Small Business Awards.

Matt is a true Gwinnett business success story, and as the General Membership Meeting Presenting Sponsor for the third year as well as a new Gwinnett Chamber Board member, Matt shared with the Chamber how he has achieved such growth while reinvesting resources into Gwinnett to ensure our community continues to thrive.

Creating Jobs & Wealth
Q. Rocket IT has recently gone through an expansion with new employees and new service offerings. What are some of the factors that have enabled Rocket IT to expand in this tough economy?
A. There are a number of factors. Economic conditions have challenged many business managers to move out of their comfort zones and to try new things, including outsourcing IT, which has opened new doors and new opportunities for us. Fortunately, we were prepared for the increased demand. We've built a great team and we have a well-developed system. Perhaps most importantly, we offer a proven service that helps businesses drive dollars to their bottom lines. In this economy, that's a very good thing!

Growing Your Business
Q. As your company celebrates 15 years of being in business, what tools or concepts have been the most useful for growing your organization?
A. Without a doubt, getting outside help has been the single most useful thing I've done to grow Rocket IT. Building on relationships I've established at the Gwinnett Chamber and the Chairman's Club, I've made it a point to take another business or community leader out to lunch almost every day. I've learned a lot just by spending time with really smart people! I've also hired coaches, attended workshops, read books, joined peer advisory groups, prayed, and outsourced things I'm not good at. I can honestly say that hundreds of people have contributed to the success of Rocket IT, and many of those relationships were initiated in the Gwinnett Chamber Chairman's Club.

Q. What role has new technology, such as social media, played in the growth of your company?
A. Great technology is an accelerator, and social media is no exception. Tools like Facebook and LinkedIn have allowed us to connect with our community and to stay in touch with large numbers of people in a short amount of time, and we've certainly benefited from that at Rocket IT. We've used social media tools to get to know the people in our community, to share news and information, even to find and recruit new employees. We're still big believers in one-to-one communication, of course, but social media is a great supplement to traditional communications.

Strengthening the Community
Q. Rocket IT recently hosted students from the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology (GSMST) for a job shadow event. How do you feel this benefited the students as well as your organization? Why do you feel it is important to reinvest in the community?
A. Yes, about a dozen students from GSMST visited recently. It was a lot of fun! They spent some time shadowing Wendy Frank and Eric Henderson, two important members of my team. I also shared the story of Rocket IT and how I came to be an entrepreneur. I think we were successful in giving the students a taste of the amount of work and determination required to build a great business, and how important an education is to success. We were honored that the school selected Rocket IT for a visit and we'd jump at the chance to do it again.

We enjoy being an active participant in our community, and we all have a vested interest in helping that community thrive. Our families, employees, and customers are here, after all. Besides, there's a certain sense of fulfillment that comes from helping people. It feels really good to help others succeed.

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