There’s a bit of an air of mystery around this year’s Integrator of the Year. Its model is unique for the AV industry, but you can’t argue with its success after more than 20 years and continued annual bottom-line growth.
But how the heck has CCS Presentation Systems done it? How did CEO and founder John Godbout go from moving around the country nine times in a 20-year career at IBM to selling software for Proxima to launching his own company and seeing it steadily grow and become, in many ways, a standout in the systems integration industry?
“We have a bunch of people who really care,” says Godbout, clearly downplaying the myriad challenges that come with essentially blazing his own trail in an industry that too often sees more of a conservative monkey-see, monkey-do attitude and approach.
Jim Landrum, director of sales in the PPD division at Mitsubishi Digital Electronica America, thinks it goes a lot deeper than that.
“I think he enjoys watching his partners become successful,” says Landrum, who’s worked with CCS for more than 12 years and is one of the network’s primary partners when it comes to projectors. “Other people want to see their companies expand so they can beat their chest and let everyone know about it. John is exactly the opposite of that. He’s like a proud papa.”
David Riberi, who launched the California branch of CCS 17 years ago with his wife Gina, agrees with Landrum’s assessment of Godbout and credits him for the company’s success.
CCS Presentation Systems
PRIMARY LOCATION: Scottsdale, Ariz.
ADDITIONAL LOCATIONS: 23 locations throughout the United States, including California, Florida, New England, Colorado and Maryland
PRINCIPALS OF COMPANY AND THEIR TITLES: John Godbout, CEO/founder; Jack Seaver, CFO; Laura Byrne, COO; Dale Crull, integration general manager; Rod Andrewson, engineering manager; Abe Assad, sales manager; Will Dunham, K-12 education sales manager; Julie Solomon, marketing and training manager; Mark Engbarth, service manager
2013 REVENUES (PROJECTED): $103,500,000
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 22
2012 COMMERCIAL INSTALLS: 5,039
TOP 3 VERTICAL MARKETS: Corporate, Government and Education
TOP 5 BRANDS: NEC, Epson, SMART Technologies, Crestron, AMX
“My company creates remarkable experiences for customers better than any other company.”
“There’s only one John Godbout,” says Riberi. “He just wanted to help people live the American dream and it’s turned out to be good business. You can’t replicate the trust and cooperation we have, and that all comes down from John and [his wife] Beth.”
The CCS Model
When Godbout left IBM before he was going to have to move for the 10th time in his career there, “I had no intention of being in the AV business,” he says, but he joined Proxima for a few years before starting CCS in 1991. His brief time with Proxima would play a pivotal role in the evolution of CCS. As he expanded his company outside of Scottsdale and Tucson, Ariz., a former Proxima colleague, Mark Kalinsky, came to Godbout looking for advice — and money — to start his own business.
That led to a six-figure loan from Godbout to launch a now-shuttered CCS office in Texas and, unbeknownst to Godbout at the time, created the model CCS still follows today, with some modifications and tweaks.
“I thought if Mark could get it to work in Texas, we could do more of them,” says Godbout, who was joined by Beth for the first several years of the startup in the 1990s. “If it didn’t work, I told my wife I’d go get a job.”
Riberi and Kalinsky are two of many CCS partners who have Proxima ties or have otherwise known Godbout for many years.
“We worked together, so we had a trust,” says Riberi. CCS launched its California arm after Godbout and Riberi talked about teaming up over lunch at an InfoComm International event in Philadelphia.
“I always admired that the dealer channel were mom-and-pop type of operations,” says Riberi of the CCS partner network.
Each of the eight partners under the CCS umbrella is tied to the parent company through a licensing agreement, with Godbout emphasizing this is not a franchise setup. Each partner also owns his or her own business and can build and create his or her own equity through the relationship.
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