On the Right Track

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

SilverTrain Inc., a Milwaukee-based information technology company, opened new three new offices in the past year and has plans for four more locations in 2006. The company, which specializes in custom technology-based business solutions, was founded in 2001 with the goal of having 25 locations by 2009, according to Bob Carlson, president and chief executive officer.

SilverTrain entered the Chicago market in 2002, the Cleveland, Austin and Houston markets this year and expects to be in Minneapolis, Dallas, Atlanta and possibly Washington, D.C., by the end of 2006, Carlson said.

Although geographic sprawl for SilverTrain has plateaued compared with its goals in 2001, the company has doubled its revenue every year since 2001 and has added new service specialties, Carlson said.

"We did not stay on an aggressive path the last couple of years because of the sluggish economy," Carlson said. "We wound up in fewer cities (than predicted) and still hit the same revenue projections. We have some catching up to do."

SilverTrain had $6.3 million in revenue in 2004 and projects to have revenue of around $13 million for 2005 and $20 million in 2006, Carlson said.

The company is supported by a $1.3 million investment from angel investors and a $7 million investment from Chicago-based William Blair Capital Partners and Chicago Growth Partners.

"We received the money because (the angel investors) like our business model and had a positive experience with us as a management team," Carlson said.

Carlson did not disclose the names of the angel investors.

SilverTrain works mainly with medium-sized and Fortune 1000 businesses on SAP America Inc. solutions and business intelligence application services, Carlson said. SilverTrain’s other specialties include Web services, custom application development, business continuity planning, disaster recovery, remote device management and information security.

SilverTrain mainly has served the health care, financial and manufacturing industries and has built a reputation through customer relationships and experienced employees, Carlson said.

"Our focus is on relationships and has been from the beginning," Carlson said. "Our best interest is in becoming a trusted partner to our clients. You can’t let a customer down in this day and age."

Because of SilverTrain’s philosophy and focus on relationships, investments that otherwise would have been put into structural or geographic expansion for the company instead went to building on to the current service offerings through new hires and the adoption of new technology services, Carlson said.

"It is a question of creating credibility and accepting the tone of the market and being willing to look at new players," Carlson said.

SilverTrain added SAP services to its list of specialties in 2004 as an effort to offer more options to clients and potential customers, Carlson said. SilverTrain implements SAP solutions into company infrastructures, updates systems and troubleshoots when necessary.

The company recently became heavily vested in technological efforts with the federal government and plans to pursue opportunities in multiple areas, including defense technology and warranty application work as part of its vertical integration, Carlson said.

The latest plan is creating opportunities for the company to work more with the public sector, spurring the idea for opening an office in Washington, D.C., Carlson said.

"The philosophy behind the company is to have a national capability, but (be located) down the street," Carlson said.

The company’s local offices enable it to respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner and to know that an application or implementation is working correctly, Carlson said.

SilverTrain determines a new location for an office by the demographic of the city, the size of the market and the suitability of the practices SilverTrain offers, Carlson said.

After a city and location is chosen, SilverTrain hires employees who are part of the local community and know the market, instead of moving current employees to a new city, Carlson said.

Specific locations for offices have not been determined yet in Minneapolis, Dallas, Atlanta or Washington D.C. but SilverTrain is interested in the cities because of the opportunities their markets offer for the IT industry, Carlson said.

Houston was chosen primarily because there is a heavy concentration of SAP solutions purchased by businesses located in that city and because of the adaptive IT market Houston is experiencing, Carlson said.

Even though the company was started during a recession, Carlson said SilverTrain has thrived because of the relationships it has formed with its clients, the expert employees who have been hired and the company’s ability to adapt to changes in the market.

Carlson plans to open at least 25 locations, but he may not hit that mark by 2009.

"We cannot anticipate where the market is going, but we can continue to execute and focus on its heels," Carlson said.

Editor’s note:

SilverTrain Inc. was selected as a Future 50 company by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) Council of Small Business Executives (COSBE) and is also featured in the special Future 50 supplement in this edition of Small Business Times.

– September 30, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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