Audio Interviews by Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek
Ten years seems like an eternity in the Internet age. So for a technology firm to last and grow through all the changes that 10 years can bring, it's a real achievement.
John Hill started Aztek 10 years ago and has learned a lot in this past decade. Among his first lessons learned were to treat his employees well and to treat his clients well.
John decided early on to be a Microsoft shop. Their developers are 100% Microsoft and their creative component is all Adobe. Staying current with the latest offerings from these behemoths has helped Aztek grow. For example, they no longer do classic ASP or even Dot Net 1.1 having updated skills to the Dot Net 2 platform.
Many complain about the brain drain but Aztek is able to find good people to hire in Cleveland because of relationships with the local colleges. As you will hear, John is optimistic about Cleveland and the local business climate.
One of John's decisions in the last decade was to not focus on any particular vertical market. He feels their breadth of work experience brings extra value to their clients. And don't expect canned solutions from Aztek. John is a firm believer in fitting the application to the business rather than asking a client to change their practices.
It may surprise listeners that John claims that "the web developer position does not exist."
In this podcast, John tells us how Aztek started and how they have been able to grow and thrive in the ever-changing tech world. And about their 10th anniversary celebration. Congratulations!
The Aztek Team at their 10th Anniversary Celebration
More photos from the Aztek 10th Anniversary Celebration.
After the 10 year anniversary, Aztek made a dramatic move. They left the comfort and familiarity of their suburban Westlake location for a new, funky downtown location. They left their comfort zone - literally and figuratively.
Aztek CEO John Hill in their new conference room with Cleveland Browns Stadium in the background
John Hill's vision is to grow the company and for that they needed more space and a cooler space to compete for talent. But it wasn't easy. In fact, John called it "horribly painful."
How many times have entrepreneurs heard that they need to
Work on your business not in it
Trust your key people and
Leave your comfort zone to grow
It's the basis for countless business books and seminars. But it's much easier to read about then to put into practice.
Aztek CTO Keith Rowe (right) loves the new open space for easy collaboration with developers
John got a not-so-subtle push from CTO Keith Rowe and led Aztek to a spot where they can reach his vision of growth.Take a listen June 27, 2008