Small Businesses, Big Results: Endurance IT Services
By Jamie McAllister
Owners: Blake White and James Ashmore
Location: 4646 Princess Anne Rd., Virginia Beach
Number of Employees: 48
Blake White and James Ashmore were coworkers at a Fortune 500 IT firm in Coastal Virginia, and when that company left the region, they started Endurance IT Services together in 2008. “We knew there was still a strong need for high-end IT services in the area,” White says. “Our goal was to build a firm to deliver IT services that would yield the most value for each client.”
Growing a successful company didn’t come without some sacrifice. “My partner and I both liquidated portions of our 401(k)s to start the company and to seed salaries and startup costs,” White says. “And while we had been in the IT Industry for 25 years and knew everything about that, we had little knowledge about starting a company and running all the many aspects of a small business, such as insurance, accounting, bookkeeping and taxes.”
Tapping into their network of trusted professionals and seeking the right people who could help guide them set Ashmore and White on their path to success. “The two of us also split up the administrative tasks and implemented many of them ourselves for the first several years of the company until we could afford to hand them off to third party companies or hire internally,” White says.
Now 48 employees strong, White hopes to double that number by 2020. “Client satisfaction is built into everything we do,” he says. “But we are equally as fanatical about serving our staff members. Currently we have a 98 percent staff retention rate. It may sound corny, but we believe happy staff members help keep our clients happy.”
A native of Coastal Virginia, White is passionate about philanthropy and giving back to the local community. Endurance supports several of the region’s nonprofits, including Equi-Kids, Special Olympics and United Way. “Having been born and raised in Norfolk, I believe this area is an awesome place to live and raise a family,” White says.
The recipient of numerous business awards and with a ranking on the Inc 5000, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., White feels the greatest reward is having full control of his destiny. “For years, I ran divisions within companies and worked as hard as I do now but was never able to truly appreciate the many benefits of the company being my own,” he says. “I enjoy taking care of people, both clients and staff. I get up every day hoping to ensure every client is thrilled with our work. I also want to maintain a family environment for our staff, no matter how large we grow.”
Teamwork has been one of the keys to White’s success, and he advises aspiring entrepreneurs to first find their tribe, including a trusted lawyer, accountant, bookkeeper and insurance agent. “Interview local banks and find one that can grow with you if you decide to buy a building or take out a line of credit,” White says. “A current or former business owner can guide you through the many nuances of starting a new company and can provide overall strategy guidance.”
Learn more at Endurance-It.com.