By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
“We’ve been able to make good progress in our industry,” Larry Bodie, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Claris Networks, told us recently.
It was our first time in nearly three years to sit down one-on-one with the Knoxville-based technology company’s top executive. Since our last formal interview in 2012, Claris has logged some significant milestones as a cloud and managed services provider.
The workforce now totals about 110 individuals in three cities. The Nashville market was added soon after our previous teknovation.biz profile on the company.
“We entered that market in 2012,” Bodie said. As you might expect for an IT company with a strong healthcare vertical, the entry was carefully considered.
“We hired a business development guy from IBM Global Services and told him to investigate the market for six months,” Bodie said. “It looked and felt a lot like Knoxville, just a lot bigger.”
Soon after deciding to enter Nashville, Claris acquired MindLinx, an existing business IT solutions provider, in mid-2013.
“It created immediate brand awareness for us in the market,” Bodie said. “MindLinx was also a pure cloud provider and exclusively served the healthcare market.”
Last June, Dave Sagraves, Executive Vice President and Partner in Claris Networks, relocated to Nashville to run the operation. “We’re growing it,” Bodie said of the Middle Tennessee location.
“I like the three cities,” he says of Knoxville, Nashville and Claris’ third location – Chattanooga, adding, “They are all a lot alike but also very different.”
Claris also continues to gain recognition for its steady growth as well as the quality of its services in the market sectors where it concentrates. The company ranks number 39 in size among the world’s 501 managed service providers according to the 2014 report from MSPmentor.
As far as cloud service providers, Claris ranks number 51 in the “Talkin’ Cloud 100” scorecard for 2014. It’s a prestigious list of household names ahead of Claris – IBM, Salesforce.com, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Google, Citrix, Rackspace, and DropBox.
As far as the future, are there other markets Bodie and his partners are exploring?
“We have no short-term plans to expand,” he says. “You can go wide or deep. It’s a monumental effort to go to another city.”
For now, the Claris team is focused on serving customers in its existing markets at a time when security and compliance are at the top of everyone’s list.
“The threats are real and a whole lot more intrusive and destructive than in the past,” Bodie says.