Chamber Spotlight is a feature sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. Today’s Q-and-A is with chamber member Mike Jennings, President of BEI Networks. Jennings and his wife, Ellen own the company, which provides IT support to businesses throughout the Washington area.
Why did you decide to start your business in Reston? We purchased BEI from the former owners when it was located in Arlington. We moved it to Reston in 2004 because we reside here, the Dulles corridor was growing, and we are very involved in Reston in both our business and personal lives.
What are the challenges and rewards of being a business owner? Challenges: hiring good people, balancing working “in” the business and working “on” the business. Rewards: getting to know and helping our clients (I’ve learned so much about many different types of businesses) and working with smart, creative, dedicated employees
Name something about your business that most people don’t know? BEI was launched in 1987 and supported mostly Novell networks in the beginning; We’ve been an Ultimate Seahawk Sponsor of South Lakes High School’s athletic programs since 2009; We are the leading provider of IT support to ambulatory physician practices in metro DC and the only IT service provider with its own internal HIPAA compliance program.
What is the unique value proposition your client’s know of when using your services? Healthcare practices come to us when they’re tired of their operations and clinical workflow being impacted by never-ending IT problems. We help by solving healthcare’s unique IT challenges and then proactively managing their IT with a thorough knowledge of and deep experience with EMRs, medical devices, and HIPAA. This allows them to focus on seeing patients efficiently and thereby increase patient satisfaction and improve cash flow.
Describe a typical day as the business owner — I’m in charge of our service operations, so there is a lot of continuous interaction with our support engineers throughout the day. I also have my fair share of meetings. I meet with clients regularly, with vendors who help support our clients (phone, cabling, telecom, software and hardware vendors) and with our management team. I often function as the VCIO (Virtual Chief Information Office) for many of our clients so that means working with them to plan how their technology should evolve as their businesses grow and change.
How has the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce helped your business grow? We’ve met partners and prospects via the Chamber, but also have learned a lot about the Reston community. I already live in Reston, my kids have attended Reston schools (my son is at Virginia Tech and my daughter has graduated from UVA), I own a business in Reston, I am on the Reston Planning & Zoning Committee and the Chamber has helped me complete that circle.
What is the quote that best describes your business? We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. — Aristotle 8.
What is your advice to someone who is thinking about owning a business? Enjoy the highs and when you hit some lows have the confidence that you’ll get through it. It may seem like there is NO WAY to overcome the rough patch you’re in but if you stay focused on what you believe are the right things to do then it won’t be long before that rough patch is just a memory.
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