New Business Model: Forsythe Solutions

Eva Losacco President and CEO

Tried and True With visions of dot-com dollars dancing in their heads, some solutions providers were all too eager to dump the old ways of doing business. Reseller business models were abandoned with gusto for the latest xSP variant.

That was not the case for Forsythe Solutions Group Inc. The Chicago-area company was launched in 1995 as a reseller and technology consultancy and has remained true to its roots. Forsythe Solutions describes itself as a technology infrastructure provider. The company assesses a customers servers, storage and networks, plans a target architecture, and integrates a solution. The company has reseller agreements in place with Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems, among other vendors. The companys customers include BASF, KPMG, Unilever and Wells Fargo.

Design/build/integrate is a conventional formula, but the approach has let Forsythe Solutions contribute to the profitability and growth of its parent, Forsythe Technology. Founded in 1971, Forsythe Technology grew revenue 18 percent in 2000 to $631 million. Net earnings increased 8 percent to $26.9 million.

No Revolutions Here "Customers get mad at revolutionary changes," says Eva Losacco, president and CEO of Forsythe Solutions. Solutions providers in the public market, she says, "wanted to be whatever was hot at the moment. They kept changing their mind on what they wanted to be and a lot of them ended up not being anything."

Forsythe Solutions, meanwhile, prefers evolutionary change, which doesnt always play well with employees. Some insiders had expressed impatience with the companys core focus. "A lot of people last year were aggravated that we were not taking more dot-com credit risk," Losacco recalls. Today, they are relieved.

However, Forsythe Solutions isnt standing pat. Losacco sees her mission as cultivating new ideas, while growing the companys core businesses. In one example, Forsythe Technology last year entered the management service provider space, launching its Nuclio Corp. subsidiary. Nuclio functions as a standalone enterprise, but also helps Forsythe Solutions extend its service reach into remote monitoring and management.

Forsythe Solutions, meanwhile, also is developing a business strategy practice. The companys plan is to "translate business strategy into technical architecture," Losacco says.

"We try to develop new businesses as we reap the benefits of the old businesses," says Losacco. Thats the kind of balance a lot of companies could have used.