Joe Vesco, President of Information Works, Inc. of Columbus is the Ohio Small business Person of the Year for 2004. Joe was selected above all other candidates based on the following criteria: staying power, growth in number of employees, increases in sales, current and past financial reports, innovative products or services offered, response to adversity and contributions made to the community.
Joe has managed to do what few other entrepreneurs have been able to accomplish. He has successfully managed to differentiate his company from all the others in an industry where the competitors all offer essentially the same service. Joe is in the business of supplying laser printing services to business. By taking an innovative approach to this basic service, coupled with some proprietary service software, Information Works has been able to offer their customers a quality product, on time at a reduced cost.
Joe's career has revolved around the design, development and service of computers and related systems over the past 25 years. He began his career as a flight simulation engineer for US Air (now US Airways) in 1976. Upon leaving the airline industry in 1978, Joe became a technical consultant for the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Since his career required him to be deeply embedded in technology, he witnessed the evolution of personal computers and recognized the endless impact technology would have on the economy. Joe started his first company in 1980 on his 25th birthday. Since then, after several mergers, an SBA 7(a) loan and technology shifts, his business has evolved into today's Information Works.
Information Works saves businesses money by taking care of the service, supply and management of their office output equipment. Information Works controls and minimizes the total cost of ownership of laser printing equipment by providing all services and supplies required, on a cost-per-page basis, with a focus on responsiveness and maximizing productivity. This unique offering makes Information Works the only company that can accurately measure and control the cost of network and desktop printing. For businesses that rely heavily on paper, unmanaged output technology (printers, copiers, and fax machines) can cost a business up to five percent of its total revenue! The Limited Brands, Bob Evens, Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase, and State Auto Insurance are just a few of the company's clients.
Since 1997, the company has experienced over a 90% annual growth rate. Last June they began operations in Minneapolis, Minnesota and are currently in the process of evaluating several new markets for expansion in 2004. Information Works has little or no employee turnover and currently employees 22 in Columbus and 6 in Minneapolis. Joe counts on each employee to be fully engaged in the business and in return is totally committed to them. Information Works has always been ahead of the pack in its compensation and benefits plans. The employee benefit package includes paid medical insurance, including dental and vision, short and long-term disability insurance, flexible spending accounts for childcare and medical expenses, 401K retirement with a 50% employer match, and profit sharing of 50% of after-tax profits. The longer you are with the company, the greater the share of profits you earn. This "vesting" program compensates loyalty and truly rewards those who help build the company. Joe believes that Information Works' success comes from its employees' hard work and he's happy to share the fruits of their labor.
Joe Vesco has met a number of business and personal challenges over his business career. In a technology based business, he has managed to survive the recession of the late 1970s and the technology explosion and subsequent economic downturn in the late 1990s. Joe and his company have reinvented themselves and stayed ahead of the competition with sustained profitable growth by identifying and capitalizing on opportunities.
Another challenge Joe has overcome in owning a business is a deeply personal one. He has been an insulin dependent diabetic for almost 40 years. On two occasions, the diabetes caused him to go blind, forcing him to learn how to manage and operate his business without eyesight.
Due to his personal ties, Joe Vesco gives generously of his time and funds to the Central Ohio Diabetes Association. He has served as a camp counselor and camp director at Camp Hamwi, a camp for children who also suffer from the same condition. He has been involved in many of the Rotary Club of Columbus community endeavors like the Wheelchair Marathon, Employment for Seniors and Adopt-a-School.
Joe states, "Blindness has had a major consequence on my life, and in turn, the life of the organization I lead. I believe in balance, life-long learning and the pursuit of excellence. We do not work overtime, except in rare instances, and we do not waste time doing unnecessary tasks. As an organization, we have fun, learn and get better every day. I'm sure that, even with poor eyesight, I can see many things that others cannot. They say "the little things in life aren't little, they're life." I see the little things very clearly and couldn't agree more!"
Joe was recently awarded the Ernst & Young, Entrepreneur of the Year in the print service category and recognized as a finalist in the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce Small Business Person of the Year competition.
Information Works, Inc., 2323 Setterlin Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43228, Voice: (614) 527-4481, Fax: (614) 527-1473, www.iw-services.com.
"This article and the accompanying photograph do not constitute or imply an endorsement by SBA of any opinions, products or services of any private individual or entity."