Small Business Spotlight – April 2022: JMARK
Company name: JMARK
Person in charge: Thomas H. Douglas, CEO
Year founded: 1988
Tell us about the history of your business:
JMARK is an IT managed services provider headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, with a second office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and numerous full-time remote employees spread throughout the country. The reason JMARK is a "best" place to work can be summed up in one word: culture. Nurturing a respectful, supportive, dynamic, spirited culture among the more than 100 individuals that make up JMARK is a point of passion for CEO Thomas Douglas. It matters so much to him that every decision made regarding JMARK is run through the filter of how it will impact the culture at large—as well as every employee on an individual level.
Describe the services your organization provides and what makes you unique:
JMARK provides award-winning IT and cybersecurity expertise to help organizations increase the velocity of their success. Our people-first approach to service and strategy empowers individuals and teams to be more dynamic, innovative, connected, and efficient. Our stress-free solutions help businesses leverage technology to be more secure, productive, and profitable.
Tell us something people might not know about your organization:
Our culture is created and flourishes by hiring the right people who believe and act in a way that is consistent with our core values: Honesty, Passion, Teamwork, Excellence, Accountability, and Fun. We have a culture where people come first and are empowered to make decisions. We have a “Culture Crew” that acts as an internal sounding board for ideas to keep our culture strong. They meet monthly strong to discuss what we would like to do to continue to grow the culture of JMARK.
At JMARK, we are fortunate to have employees who truly cherish and support one another through thick and thin, both inside and outside of work. Having this culture in place during 2020 proved invaluable as we dealt with the effects of the pandemic and moved to a new office space when the property owner sold our old location. Without this culture, JMARK would not be able to retain the amazing team that we have developed over many years.
The devotion to team and respect starts at the top. At JMARK, we have instilled a “leader-leader” mentality. Employees are empowered to make decisions in their own spheres, allowing leaders to focus their time and energies on areas that demand higher levels of expertise and experience. Thus, newer employees gain experience through practice. We have a unique training program that prepares our employees for responsibility and autonomy while also focusing on communication, problem-solving, and service. At JMARK, every employee is a leader, and the future of the company is assured each day as our employees diligently expand the scope of their assignments and grow into their roles as the next generation of JMARK innovators and executives.
We offer training and development to each employee so they can set goals and reach the height of where they want to take their careers. Our team members look to help each other level up so they too can continue to grow. We offer the ability to work remotely and provide an environment for a healthy work/life balance. We provide best-in-class benefits so our employees can feel peace of mind about themselves and their family’s health. We provide 100% of the coverage for each employee, and also 70% of the coverage for their family. JMARK also has a program called Direct Pay, which is a reimbursement program where JMARK reimburses a large portion of the deductible and coinsurance, leaving a very minor out-of-pocket cost for employees and their dependents. All together, these benefits help make JMARK a great place to work and helps with the retention of our team members. Our voluntary turnover rate for 2020 was only 4%. We started with 115 employees on January 1, 2020, and ended the year with 115.
It appears all these efforts have paid off. Employees of JMARK gave the company a Net Promoter Score of 76, which is considered “world class.”
What is the biggest challenge facing your organization now, and how are you working to overcome that challenge?
It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges for all businesses in 2020 was the sudden switch to a remote workforce in March when COVID-19 lockdowns first occurred. JMARK met this challenge head-on. We already had an emergency work-from-home contingency plan ready, so we put that into action and had our entire office dispersed from one day to the next. More importantly, being prepared freed us up to continue serving our clients without a hitch. In fact, during the first couple of weeks of lockdown, we handled a couple of months’ worth of service tickets while helping the employees of our clients settle in at home. But we worked our way through the list and made sure we set up our clients to continue working successfully. And most important of all, throughout 2020, our culture of teamwork and collaboration grew even stronger, with everyone at the company bonding even more closely over Zoom than ever before.
In facing the challenges of 2020, however, JMARK never lost sight of our overarching company goals. We had to put some aside for the year, and accept slower progress on others, but with minor adjustments, we were able to stick to our plans and maintain forward progress. This includes our dedication to focusing on the right growth. We want to bring in mature clients that understand the value of I.T. and how it can affect their success. We understand that not every business is currently in the right position to take advantage of our services and technologies; we also know that some clients may be too big for us to serve them effectively. So, we work thoughtfully with each potential client to evaluate their needs, ensuring that if we choose to move forward and work with a company, it will be as partners.
We don’t want to simply be I.T. “technicians,” fixing problems when they arise; we are turning JMARK into a place for I.T. “architects” who create a technology foundation upon which our clients can rest the future of their business. Our focus is on the success and growth of our clients and ensuring that the technologies and processes we provide help create the right environment in which they can achieve their business goals.
2020 proved to us that when it comes to growth, tenacity goes hand-in-hand with patience.
What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I've ever been given in my time as a business leader is to focus on people. This concept has become the foundation for every aspect of JMARK, even making its way to our tagline, People First. Technology Second. All of our services begin with people at the core. We’re focused on finding the right solution and partnership for each client that we serve and arming them with the technology they need to be successful and achieve their goals. Our focus on people also translates to our team and our commitment to culture. This dedication to creating a positive environment has been instilled in every leader at any level—including the board of directors—and passed down to every employee in the company. From the first moment one walks in the door at JMARK, it is clear that this is a true family made up of teammates who care for one another, cheer each other on, and thrive on coming together to achieve greater things together than could ever be done alone. In fact, this feeling of fellowship is so strong that it transcends the distances between teammates working from home or in different locations. CEO Tom Douglas holds a weekly recurring "rally" every Friday afternoon, gathering the entire company onto one combined Zoom/live-in-office event to celebrate company and departmental wins, toast individual achievements, and share in a moment of camaraderie. This focus on appreciating and celebrating others has spread companywide, and Tom even encouraged the creation of an automated bot to make it easy for anyone to give thanks and kudos to a teammate-- and those recognitions, big or small, are shared with the entire company during the rallies. The words "People First" are in our slogan, and everything that happens at JMARK leads back to that phrase.