In the mid 90s John was growing up on an apple farm in rural Canada and spending his weekends trading in sports cards, stock market challenges and starting a dozen other business, while he was still at the age he had to sneak into the cinema to watch Keanu in The Matrix. At this formative time of trial-and-error in early micro-ventures, John developed an abhorrence towards the opportunity cost of not putting hard-earned money towards what will yield the highest return on investment. Farmers have limited resources; land and seasons. But they have an abundance of opportunities as to what to grow on that land in that season, therefore the success lies in choosing the right seed to sow. While in John’s case, a teenage boy, has limited financial resources and limited time not spent in a desk staring at a chalkboard. Which admittedly, was not John’s favorite place to be. This is why his early education came from sowing the seeds of his passion for computer and mobile technology. With his financial resources spent on books In-a-Nutshell books from O’Reilly, PC Mag, MIT Review, Red Herring and dial up internet access to read Slashdot and other tech forums all while experimenting on the computers he built. When John started building mobile applications for Palm Pilots, that were connected to the internet via snap on modems and phone cords going into landline wall outlets, and later on the very versions of Blackberry devices that could actually get an internet cignal over the cellular network, he knew he found his true passion. John launched his first business using open source software and marketing these applications to local business that had field service people and needed to transmit job order information back and forth with their head offices. John even raised over a hundred thousand dollars in angel investment for this company at the age of eighteen that propelled his confidence to achieve anything that technology offered a potential solution to.
After a few years of building mobile applications, before the term even existed, he got the opportunity to work with one of his heroes; Bob Young, founder of RedHat Software. RedHat was the Linux company that created the now common place Software as a Service, referred to as “SaaS” business model, that launched the web economy and enables you to subscribe to most of the software you use today. At this time, with the Y2K anti-apocalypse behind us, the RedHat distribution of the Linux operating system was the holy grail for computer geeks like John and the majority of the internet ran on top of it. Being able to work with the legend that not only wrote some of that code and invented the SaaS business model, but also now owned professional sports teams and fashion companies in Toronto and Montreal respectively, was a dream. John was equally as fortunate to have one of the most intelligent business leaders of the time, William Jahnke, as his mentor at the company. Will came into John’s office one day with a challenge, to look at this brand-new ad platform which was released by the little search engine that was trying to steal the market away from Yahoo, called Google AdWords. Google had just released the ability to buy ads within search results that very week and John was able to be a pioneer on the platform as one of the first advertisers in Canada, back when bids for popular terms were only eight cents per click. In those days there were no blogs to read about how to optimize your ads, online courses or YouTube videos, there was only books on related subjects from the old economy like “Gorilla Marketing” by Perry Marshall which you could apply the same fundamentals from to this new platform. Aside from that it was just trial and error, and by studying every word he could get his hands on from the modern marketing minds such as Seth Godin and XXXX then practicing 12-16 hrs a day, while he knew the new platform had everyone starting on a level playing field - the competitors were left in the dust. After showing strong early results, John got the go-ahead to pull the millions of dollars from existing yellow page ads, putting it all in play online. It took years for the competition to catch up and the business flourished.
With paid ads cost on the rise as the more mainstream Google AdWords had become, John went to work at a company whose organic web traffic from search optimization saw it rise in the dot com boom and survived the subsequent bust, located near his home town of Collingwood, Ontario Canada. Joining as an early stage employee in a small website focused on the laboratory equipment niche business-to-business market, John helped grow the website into over one hundred thousand unique monthly visits and launch complementary business units as a corporate entrepreneur within the existing company. As the lab industries attention shifted towards their websites, from the storied trade publications of the laboratory, who long held dominance, the company was able to acquire the leading lab market print publications in the USA and rebranded as an omni-channel media business.
With this new ability to reach every single scientist in North America in both web and print, John wanted to challenge a industry best practice he disliked; the advertorial approach the newly acquired trade publications took to content creation by only giving readers articles which served their advertisers. Seeing the scientist being underserved by the content available, John took things into his own hands and trained himself to become an author, leveraging his natural desire to communicate ideas and the millions of data points he had from the websites telling him what content the readers wanted to see. Within a few months John was writing featured cover stories for multiple industry trade publications, but still wanted to reach a larger audience with this content creation model. At this time John divested his position in the company, while still continuing to write his regular monthly articles for the magazines, but now for other trade publications as well, in other industries including medical device and clinical engineering.
After seeing such success in all three areas, starting with paid online traffic, then free traffic via search engine optimization and creating audiences with content publishing, John combined these skills to become one of the first online marketing consultants, focusing his efforts on the business-to-business (B2B) market.
John was thriving in this consultant role, working solo for a handful companies around the globe and making a meaningful impact on these businesses’ growth efforts. John benefited from the knowledge of early leaders he served like Tom Fagrelius and Heinz Roesch, who gave him a lot of flexibility and trust in formulating and executing online marketing strategies for sales lead generation and ecommerce sales. Although the founders of these companies have already had successful exits from their business, to this day many remain clients over ten years later.
Then challenges came with the growth of John’s consulting clients. When strategies needed to scale up online and required outside developers and designers, the clients were stumbling. As these were not IT companies, but rather B2B equipment distributors and manufactures they experienced challenges hiring and retaining the right talent in development, design and marketing roles or choosing and managing the right companies to outsource it to. The strategies that John would formulate, and the leadership of the companies became so excited about realizing the benefits from, never came to fruition, or if they did, the implementation was so poor that the results were greatly diminished. The clients were coming back with pleas to help them manage their outsourced developers and designers or just get the work done for them, for John to find a way to implement not just strategize. Due to his abhorrence of wasted opportunity costs, John jumped in to help.
After hiring his own outsourced teams from everywhere in the globe John realized that the only way to guarantee the quality of implementation he expected from a team with his reputation on the line, was to have full-time in-house staff who he could invest the time training to become experts in the clients niche B2B industries. By focusing on a few specific industries he could ensure the team would not just have high competency in their skill of designing marketing campaigns and developing websites, but be able to establish vertical knowledge that would make them indispensable to clients in those industries.
John’s next challenge was scaling his business from solo consultant, to full service agency, and the thought of spending 90k per staffer each year on salaries for people based in USA when similarly skilled developers can be found off-shore for a third of the price seemed wasteful, and again, not the best use of his clients budget. This lead John on a journey searching for the best location to setup an office for this type of implementation work to start the agency. After trying the obvious candidates of the time, India, Eastern Europe and the not so obvious, like Newfoundland and Costa Rica, John determined the Philippines, which 12 years ago was still a new player in the BPO industry, would be the back-office home of his new venture. In 2009 John’s first offshore corporation was setup in the Philippines with just five hires and a small office. Three of these first five hires in the Philippines, Gerald, Angeli and Febby, are still with his company today as they matured from promising fresh grads into vice presidents of their departments and meeting with clients all around the world with John.
Growth of the agency came quick as fueled by speaking engagements that John was chosen to present at conferences and trade association meetings including the California Medical Instrumentation Association (CMIA), Independent Lab Dealers Association (ILDA), Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon), MD Expo and Google’s Start-Up Weekend.
By 2015 John grew the agency, SCI Global Services Inc., to over 90 full-time employees with branch offices in five countries, keeping the company debt-free and most importantly, making payroll every two weeks. Learning how to manage this rapidly growing large number of people, let alone projects, was challenging but John was very blessed to have some of the agencies clients become another set of mentors that would guide him through this growth phase of his journey, such as Jim Huggins from AIV and Mark Spatz from Sterlitech. John was just as lucky to have some loyal staff who were able to handle his immaturity at being a CEO and stick around to see the journey unfold. While the loyalty of other clients including Michael Williams from Scilogex enabled John to see their long-term vision of growth from start up to a market leader over a ten-year period of being a client of SCI.
In 2015 David Dieterle, who was the CTO of one of SCI’s largest clients, joined the company and later became partner and Vice President in 2018, taking over client facing responsibilities and staff including account management and business. This enabled John to revert his focus to strategy and innovation again, creating new products and services to benefit clients. Outcomes included starting the following new divisions of the company which are thriving today:
- Lab.Equipment vertical B2B marketplace as an alternative online sales channel for our clients to Amazon.
- LaboratoryApp.com, monthly show in video and audio only format that is syndicated on Apple iTunes, Google Podcasts, Youtube and 50 other podcast networks as well has its own iPhone and Android mobile application.
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications SiteSearchApp.com, SiteSalesApp.com, DropShippingApp.com and DealerProApp.com which help ecommerce merchants increasing their online revenue and sales lead volume.
- Transforming the agencies service offering from hourly retainers to Revenue Growth Plans, which are performance based incentivized marketing plans for clients.
By shifting the company into performance-based service offerings it created a clear picture of what was working at driving real quantifiable results for the clients, in terms of increased sales lead generation and online sales revenue, therefore what the team should be focusing on and measured against. This enabled John to let the team he has trained and coached over the years to implement the clients scope of work he strategized, as the output is now very binary. With this confidence in the day-to-day operations of SCI being properly looked after, John focused his time on the next phase of his journey with SCI, his true passion of consulting and pushing the envelope of B2B marketing strategy for clients and the agency.
With this new focus on the future for 2020 came the re-brand of SCI Global Services Inc. which you see today on our new logo, slogan and website. This expands the stages at which we can help our clients into strategy consulting and creative, while focusing the existing work we do for them to the services we truly excel at, removing other implementation services that were distracting from the main goals of our clients in generating new revenue growth.
The acronym SCI now takes on a new meaning defining each stage of services we provide our clients from Strategy to Creative and then Implementation. While the companies full name; SCI Global Services, represents our ability to deliver these services to clients at global scale, by leveraging a global workforce and performing the work that is possible in each economic zone, giving our clients the best balance of local and off-shore services for a cost effective solution.
While at the same time this spreads the wings of our company, enabling us to retain our top talent as the new career paths and growth opens up endless opportunities for them, while being able to attract the best and the brightest to come work. This company rebranding gives John a renewed energy in the success of SCI and our clients, the start of a new journey at 38 years old which has limitless opportunities ahead.