Patrick Hemphill: Diversifying Business Services To Stay Competitive
Tuck was instrumental in giving us ideas on how to grow. The lessons learned in the Growing program helped us be more aggressive in our business planning and weather some of the toughest economic times in recent history.
– Patrick Hemphill
By Anita Warren; Getting Ink Done
Imagine having the tools to reduce a seven-hour assignment to three or four hours. You’d cut your labor cost in half, right? Multiply that by, say, 1,400 and now you’re talking the kind of math most businesses dream of. For Dallas-based HCI IT Services, it’s a dream come true.
Actually, HCI realized that dream for one of their clients, engineering giant CB&I, which needed to reduce the time it took to complete the task of surveying more than 1,000 cell towers. “We went to CB&I and said, ‘We can develop a mobile app for you that will automate this entire process,’ and that’s what we did,” says HCI CEO Patrick Hemphill. “We were able to build a mobile application that mimicked exactly what that technician does in the field, so instead of writing everything down and faxing it in, the mobile app captures the data and takes all the photos. We also built a back-end system so that when that data is transmitted to the server, it’s automatically formatted and CB&I doesn’t have to do any reformatting.”
The project reflects the heart of HCI’s mission statement, which vows to “provide solutions that help our clients drive growth, control costs, retain customers [and] improve productivity.”
Creating mobile apps is one of four main services HCI provides. The company also offers SAP HCM (systems, applications, products for human capital management) consulting, provides professional staffing, and installs some hardware. Hemphill has grown the company since founding it in 1998 and, despite the sluggish economy, projects a 22 percent increase in sales in 2014.
The ride has not always been smooth, however. Hemphill notes the recession changed the way his clients do business in order to save money. Now, many of them hire vendor management firms to manage projects, shifting the role of HCI from prime vendor to subcontractor. For a relatively small minority-owned firm like HCI, that means diversifying business services has become a mandate, not an option, to stay competitive.
At the same time, it requires more focus on core competencies. “When I first went to the Tuck School in 2005 for the Building program, we were struggling to know if we were a consulting company or a staffing company,” recalls Hemphill. “Tuck’s minority business program was critical in helping us identify our business and our business model.”
Hemphill returned to Tuck in 2009 for Growing the Minority Business to Scale, thanks to a scholarship from the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council. The timing was ideal. It was around this time that HCI was hired as a subcontractor on a large project for the City of Dallas. Tuck proved “instrumental in planting the seed and giving us ideas on how to grow,” says Hemphill. “We took some of those lessons learned and applied them. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that we landed the City of Dallas contract that same year, but I believe some of the lessons learned helped us be more aggressive in our business planning.” The project, which lasted three years, allowed HCI to weather some of the toughest economic times businesses have faced in recent history.
Hemphill notes the mobile app service has been a “pretty good business line” for HCI since the company entered the market several years ago. Case in point: the project for CB&I. The multinational corporation admitted to Hemphill that they had tried without success to build a similar app with another company and were not sure HCI was up to the task. HCI came through “with flying colors,” says Hemphill.
Patrick Hemphill, CEO, HCI IT Services
Building a High-Performing Minority Business, Class of 2005
Growing the Minority Business to Scale, Class of 2009
Tuck Professor Len Greenhalgh on the Building Program
Tuck Professor Len Greenhalgh on the Growing Program
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Thought Leadership Download
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