Thought Leadership on Peer Advantage presented by Vistage Worldwide.
In business, few things are harder than starting one on your own. There is nothing tougher than doing it during the worst recession the U.S. economy had experienced since the Great Depression. Yet, that’s precisely what Darren Mass, Marc Gold and David L. Schwed decided to do back in 2008 when they launched MASS Communications, a connectivity and telecomm management provider based in New York City. In less than a decade, the company has become an industry leader and built a reputation for putting customers first, while creating innovative, high-performance solutions.
The big idea
Telecommunications is a mammoth industry known for its giant companies that, more often than not, offer little in the way of customer service and support (no matter how hard their marketing efforts attempt to say otherwise). With their collective years of experience in the industry, the trio saw an opportunity to come together and do things differently.
“We had a novel idea that we could do it better than any of the other companies in our space,” says Mass, the company’s CEO. “We wanted to not only be customer service based, but go above and beyond in taking care of the needs of our customers and employees because we truly care.”
Their approach is working.
Experiencing astounding growth throughout the last eight years, MASS Communications finished 2015 with significant gains in revenue, as well as in its customer base, while making significant infrastructure and network investments. Their 34-percent jump in revenue represents an increase of more than 50,000 times since their first year of operation in 2008. For the third year in a row, the company was named on the Inc. 500|5000 List of fastest-growing, privately held companies.
From the start, the partners were not interested in creating a business that felt “corporate” or “stuffy.” They wanted to develop a culture where transparency, collaboration and open dialogue defined their company’s values, not the typical “top-down” approach still associated with much of traditional corporate America.
But they didn’t just create a culture; they owned it. By using those values to guide every business decision they make, not only do their employees feel empowered but their customers and partners see how the company operates, strengthening those relationships as well. They also take a lot of pride in maintaining a constant open-door policy, which they practice by encouraging team members to bring ideas forward and share.
“We’re not a corporate entity, although we are. Every individual, every employee realizes that this business is for them as well as everyone else,” Mass explains. “We don’t run this like your standard 1970’s corporate model. I’m the CEO, but I’m part of this organization as well. Everyone here has to do their job and do it well in order for us to thrive.”
Taking it a step further, the MASS Comm team often meets up outside of its downtown Manhattan headquarters. Quarterly events, like sports games, pool parties and barbeques, are held to get people out of business mode.
“We really want this to be more than just people coming to work Monday through Friday and then going home,” says Gold, president and COO. “We want it to be an extension of who everyone is and focus on each employee’s best qualities.”
Another sign that MASS Comm’s strong culture works is that employees who join the company tend to stay. The technology firm has enjoyed 100% employee retention over all eight years of its existence.
The Future Is Bright
As MASS Comm sustains its rapid level of growth, the company’s leaders are constantly evolving its processes, procedures and systems to maintain its superior performance. The firm continues to add new customers from a variety of industries, including financial services, healthcare, services, technology, entertainment distribution and government.
“Our salesforce implementation has fostered inter-departmental communication that results in decisions that are not made in silos. This allows us to not only scale rapidly and efficiently, but ensure that we are all working to effectuate the MASS vision,” says Schwed, general counsel and CIO.
Mass, Gold and Schwed are all fairly new to Vistage, but they’re already reaping some of the benefits that come with having an objective network of peers who are facing, or have faced, similar issues and challenges.
“I couldn’t even quantify how much I’ve learned. I’m the guy that goes to these meetings and brings back ideas the next day,” Gold says. “We’re all exposed to different Chairs and groups so we have three different perspectives, but can speak in a similar language when learning and sharing new concepts. We’ve grown a lot as an organization since joining Vistage.”
The firm continues to be singled out by leading organizations for its strong employee culture and performance as a technology innovator. In 2015 MASS Comm received the SmartCEO Corporate Culture and Executive Management Awards, along with being tapped by Crain’s New York Business as one of the 100 Best Places to Work in New York City.
The company’s leaders say the awards are a reflection of their people, who are also the secret to their long-term success.
“A company is a combination of all its people, Gold says. “Without everyone here giving everything they have we wouldn’t be successful.”