Mike and Rebecca Hogan: A Winning Team
Hogan started in 2004 with a dynamic husband and wife team who had a strong vision on how to create an employee-centric technology services company. “We knew employees would form the foundation of our future success, so we hired exceptionally talented technical engineers with a goal of providing world-class technical consulting and managed IT services,” said Mike Hogan, President and CEO. With sixteen years as business owners under their belts, it’s fair to say they achieved their goal.
Citrix Innovation Award Recipients
Less than five years ago, Hogan received Citrix’s highest award, the Innovation Award for having the greatest impact on a client’s business and operations. The client was Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E and KU Energy). Hogan was able to fully automate and develop technology solutions around LG&E’s biggest business issues and create a shared work environment for the company that spanned from the master control room, to technicians out in the field. The technical solution revolutionized LG&E’s ability to serve its customers both daily and during storm-related power outages.
The Path to Success: Mike and Rebecca Hogan
Mike has always been a self-professed computer geek. While he worked in various technology jobs, Rebecca spent over 10 years as a nurse. But the two professionals had a great idea to leverage Mike’s computer skills and possibly start their own business. So, they decided to enter a business planning competition! And guess what – they won! As a result of winning the joint venture competition developed by Purdue University and pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Company, the Hogans received free business classes which allowed them to bring the concept of Hogan to life. At the time they started the business, it was just Mike and Rebecca. Today, Hogan has 25+ full-time employees and serves clients in twelve industries where technology is mission critical.
When Mike and Rebecca moved back home to Chesterton, IN, Mike became certified in Microsoft and got a job working for casinos in the area. As Mike saw Citrix taking off, he saw a great future with the company and realized, “We can do this!” All along the Hogan’s goal was to build a top company that will be better for both customers and employees. Next on the Hogans’ agenda was to become a Citrix reseller where they were able to put their award-winning business plan to work.
From ER Nurse to Healthcare Technology Services Provider
In the fast-paced world of technology, Rebecca was able to use her experience as a contract ER nurse, where she would go from hospital to hospital as a “plug and play” nurse- able to care for patients undergoing surgery or in critical condition. This background prepared Rebecca for the ER-level issues businesses faced when their technology failed. Being strategic and able to think on her feet allowed Rebecca to engage with Mike in their fast-growing company.
“Starting a business was a big risk for both of us. We left the security of jobs with steady incomes to blaze a new, entrepreneurial path” said Rebecca. She added, “When we left our jobs, we had one client who told us if we went out on our own, they would follow us. This client became our anchor client!” The decision was made, and the Hogans assigned themselves a six-month timeline to prove their business concept worked. “We emptied out our 401(k) accounts to invest in office space and equipment,” explained Rebecca. “The business plan competition included a check for $10,000 so that helped a lot! We paid our initial loan back in less than a year and we were off to the races – successfully able to acquire new clients,” said Rebecca.
Facing Adversity Early On Made us Stronger
All businesses have challenges and start up pains along the way. For Hogan, our anchor client hired a new CIO who wanted all contractors – including us – out by the following Monday. We formed a transition strategy which carried us through this difficult time. “It really is how a person reacts to adversity that demonstrates their character,” said Mike. “We had two choices. To curl up into a ball and pretend this wasn’t happening, or to face the issue head on and implement targeted and high value marketing strategies.” Luckily, Hogan was not charging the highest rates within the base of contractors, so the engagement continued for another month, which gave the Hogans the time they needed to rebuild and find other anchor clients.
We will Always Have Citrix to Thank
Our relationship with Citrix continued to grow, when Citrix made us part of the prestigious Focus Five Program. “Citrix supported us in so many ways and we will always be thankful for their leadership. Not only did Citrix underwrite our marketing programs, they introduced us to clients we could work with,” said Mike. Talk about a partnership!
Finding the Right Timing on Growth
One of the most difficult things for entrepreneurs is to know when they REALLY need to hire another person. “We would stretch really thin and only then would we hire another person,” Mike reflected. “We didn’t have a bottomless pit of cash, nor did we ever accept any outside funding.” At the time Mike was spending over 50% of his time with customers. While rewarding, this high-touch approach just wasn’t sustainable if the company wanted to grow. So, as Mike slowly extracted himself from direct customer engagements, he was replaced by exceptionally talented technical engineers and other team members. “The scariest hire of all was our first salesperson. No one really knew what the person should be doing other than finding new customers. Today, we have certainly formalized our sales process, and are thankful to have a top-notch sales team” Mike said.
Our Secret? Value your Employees
Today, Hogan has over 25 highly skilled employees serving clients across the country. The company knew that to attract and retain the best and brightest, they needed to value every one of their employees. To that end, the company pays 100% of employee healthcare costs, provides a company car, company trips, parties, and in many other ways shows employees that they are vital to the success of the business. Today, the company has a world-class group of engineers and replicable processes they use in myriad technology environments.
“As a company’s fully outsourced managed IT service, we do the care and feeding of your entire technical environment, so our clients can focus on growing their businesses,” said Rebecca.
Employee Ownership of Hogan
After spending eight years in business, Hogan assigned shares of ownership to every employee, and in 2012 became an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). “We felt strongly about giving our employees the opportunity to share in the growth of the company,” said Mike.
“Our employees ARE Hogan. When they work hard to meet our clients’ technology objectives, they need to be rewarded as owners, not just employees” he added. “We also know this gives us a competitive advantage with customers since every person the customer engages with is an owner of the company.”
The Hogans are thankful for all 25 owners of the company they work with on behalf of customers each day. “We offer true world-class services to our customers, and once they work with us, they know we are the real deal,” Mike concluded.