As the world moves forward, so do advances in technology.
However, easier online workflows have opened up access to information, leading to an increased risk of data theft. For a business to be successful, it needs guidance and a plan to protect that information. This is where John Clawson, CEO and founder of Xpro Networks, comes in.
Clawson says his biggest motivation for starting his company was the fast-moving pace of the tech industry. Given his background, creating a relationship-based service business felt like his second nature.
“I like the expansive role tech is playing in our changing world,” Clawson said. “Opportunities seemed endless; I couldn’t wait to jump in.”
Before starting his company, Clawson worked in commercial real estate in Japan, owned a residential lighting company in Utah, and developed software for the Japanese education market. He completed an undergraduate degree from the University of Utah in English and Asian studies, subjects that helped him learn about people, life, and communication. All these experiences, he said, have been important in creating a successful business.
Clawson later earned an MBA from Cornell University, which he says prepared him for the many aspects of business.
Clawson launched Xpro Networks in early 2013 with his college friend, Alfredo Cornell, a seasoned communications and network engineer from Argentina.
“He brought network infrastructure and design experience from work with Comcast and Netgear,” Clawson said, noting Cornell also tapped into his IT and telecom consulting business, American Networks.
Xpro Networks is an outsource CIO company. CIO is short for chief information officer, a job title given to someone within an enterprise who heads, at the executive board level, information technology within an organization. IT services are a big component, but best outcomes require strategic vision, including an understanding of available resources, operational processes and customer needs.
According to Clawson, Xpro Networks manages the technology, which frees up business owners to better run their businesses.
Clawson says the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which has a partnership with Salt Lake Community College, helped to refresh and refine the knowledge and skills that are important to running a successful business. After noticing the program at a trade show booth in Utah, Clawson was immediately interested.
Through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, Clawson’s team put a new emphasis on operations, human resources, marketing, financial management and much more.
“The program was built around developing a growth plan for my business,” Clawson said. “This end product, and the research and effort in building it, changed our thinking about how we present ourselves and how we go to market.”
With the tech industry being so fast paced, Clawson says the program was the perfect recipe for success.
“We developed better strategies for approaching the market, as we better understood opportunities for us to grow. Our controls are better, as we use smarter tools to monitor our activities,” he said. “The program is a no-brainer for any business owner.”
Clawson adds that clients look to him to advise, not coddle their current views.
“Our clients entrust us with access to and management of their most valuable data. They need to understand we always have their best interests at heart,” he said. “Courage requires a willingness to say what is right, even when it is not popular or undesirable.”
Clients say they appreciate this approach. Timothy Jackson worked with Xpro to set up a VOIP phone system.
“They have been great to work with. We have developed a phone system that is unique to our small company that gives us big business tools,” Jackson said. “They have always been very prompt in resolving any issues.”
Other clients, like Shane Harder, say Xpro, also known as Utah Telecom, is a great alternative to larger companies like AT&T and CenturyLink.
“Take all the garbage customer service, greed-based pricing, spotty service and envision it disappearing,” Harder said of the benefits of working with Xpro. “Plus, you get to support a smaller local company. Easy choice.”
Another client, Hal Rosen, shares similar praise.
“John has helped us convert our VOIP system from our previous vendor and add additional phones and services, and a ‘real’ receptionist phone,” Rosen said. “They are a local company that gives us great customer support and pricing.”
As Clawson continues to draw inspiration for his ever-changing field, he has advice for others building their own businesses.
“Assess yourself carefully. Personality, motivation, resources, and support from others around you are critical,” he said. “I’ve met many people who like the idea of owning a business but do not want do the hard work … [But] if you have done your research, made your plan, sought advice, and have support around you, and you are still all-in, then go for it.”