A homier side of IT

Creative Computer Solutions Inc. was born in the home of its owner and president, Scott Huotari. Ten years later, the tech company still maintains a homey atmosphere in its Vancouver office.

The first thing visitors see inside CCSI is a living room. It’s a place where birthdays are remembered – even the UPS driver’s – and where hugs are common. But instead of living quarters, there are offices. And instead of a kitchen, there’s an engineers’ lab.

The technical network integration and support firm celebrated its 10th anniversary this month.

Huotari started the company after working for more than 20 years at local tech companies serving large businesses.  

“He felt he could bring ideas from that work to the small- and medium-sized business market,” said Sean Guerrero, vice president of operations who has worked with CCSI since it was founded.

He helped the burgeoning company connect with Cowboyz.com, a now-defunct Portland-based web company.

Cowboyz.com’s clients often requested technical networking services that it didn’t provide. Rather than drop those requests, the company gave about 12 of them to CCSI – helping it create a solid client base early on.

“They handed us big clients like Oil Can Henry’s, so instantly – over night – we had this roster of clients,” Guerrero said.

Ten of them are still with CCSI, and some are on its advisory board, he said.

Clients vary from construction companies and retail stores to veterinary clinics and nonprofits. Most are small- to medium-sized businesses with five to 100 computer users, Guerrero said.

Now CCSI’s client base is 500, Guerrero said. Employees work with about 100 of them in some capacity each week.

Huotari declined to share revenues, but Guerrero said the company saw sales grow 47 percent in 2007.

In 2005, CCSI’s operations moved to a 3,300-square-foot space leased in the Quad 205 Business Park. The move made room for staff to grow to its current 10 full-time positions and host community workshops, often with outside consultants. Workshops cover technology, marketing, human resources and other topics for small businesses.

“With the way the economy is changing, we’re looking at how we can be involved with clients in smarter ways,” Guerrero said. “We work with them on things like IT budget planning so they can be prepared, giving them resources that help them work more efficiently.”

Huotari also operates CCSI Forensics, a subsidiary that helps clients like attorneys and police retrieve lost data.

Ahead are plans for strong, steady growth – Huotari aims to add five full-time employees in five years. Each one will allow the company to serve about 500 new users, Guerrero said.

Creative Computer Solutions Inc.

Scott Huotari, president

11012 N.E. 39th St., Suite C7, Vancouver

www.ccsipro.com

360-944-5111

Charity Thompson can be reached at cthompson@vbjusa.com.

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