How we went from an Idea to #110 on the Inc. 500 in 4 years

Written 2016-10-04 by Chris Bianchet

I still remember the feeling of making the decision to start Herman Integration Services.  After a long stint in the AV Integration space, I knew there was an opportunity, but that didn’t make such a big change any less scary. After talking to David and Jeffrey Wolf, my partners in Herman-IS and the owners of Herman Pro AV, I knew we had something good. We had a combination of a need in the market, an understanding of the business, AND we had what felt like really good timing. In my experience, these are the ingredients to starting a successful business. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t say I was scared. I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur that wasn’t a little scared (Although some may not be willing to admit it). 

When we learned that we were named #110 on the Inc 500, I was thrilled. Only 4 years since those high stress startup days, we had established something that seems to have boundless potential.  More or less, we have grown out of that “Startup” feel without losing that “Startup” passion. But when I was talking to a colleague of mine and they asked me one simple question about the recognition from Inc., I had to take pause. It’s the way we answer questions like this and act that separate companies that keep moving up and those that get to the big show and ultimately disappear. You’re probably wondering what that question is, and it was a simple one, but so important.

 “What do you attribute the rapid rise of Herman-IS to?”

Humility is important, but when answering this question, it isn’t the time for humility. It was the time to look into the souls of all of us who have worked so hard over the past 4 years to get to where we are. So while my first instinct may have been to say…” Well, we worked hard and got lucky.” It was so much more than that.

Ideas are 90% Execution: Outsourced service wasn’t a massive innovation at all. It had been done for ages, but it hadn’t been done well enough. I knew this from my time at AVI-SPL, and I applied it when starting Herman-IS. It was our execution that has gotten us to where we are.

Hire Well, Retain Better: We were relentless in choosing our people wisely. We added and grew conservatively but made sure that we hired great people, trained them well, and kept them around.

Commit to Excellence: What made the outsource integration business so painful for so long was most were just going through the motion. We treat every project large and small like it’s of the utmost importance. This puts customers first keeping our partners and their customers happy.

Make Every Partnership…A Partnership: Too often the word partnership is thrown around without really meaning it. When we use the word partner, we are committed to meaning it. No lip service. Just a genuine desire to do great things for our clients.

Next year as we seek to break the top 100, we will push to do every one of the items above better than the year before. This won’t be an easy feat, but our constant improvement will be the benchmark of whether or not we are in fact executing our plan.

And if I may, I’ll indulge in one more fact about what got us where we are. That feeling when we started. Those nerves and that fear of the unknown. Keeping a little of that in your mind even when you feel like you may have arrived is what keeps you working hard and smart day in and day out. Because in a time where everything can be disrupted, we can never just sit back and relax.