FAIRFIELD – The job market and the overall economy continue to stagnate, but while some companies falter and others fail one Connecticut-based consulting firm has found opportunity in the economic crisis.
The award-winning Essential Data Corporation, which provides technical writing and documentation expertise to more than 300 clients nationwide, is not only holding its own; it is thriving and growing in a weak economy that is rivaled only by the Great Depression.
In a year when many small businesses have ceased to exist or experienced significant loss of jobs and revenue, EDC’s revenue has increased by more than 50 percent, according to Antoinette Allocca, founder, and president of Essential Data. Allocca anticipates similar growth this year.
“We are not recession proof. We are recession resistant because of our business model,” Allocca said. That is reflected in the company’s bottom line and in EDC’s pursuit of talent to add to its teams at more than 30 locations throughout the country.
“I am offering jobs in this economy,” said Allocca, whose company was recently named to Inc. magazine’s list of America’s fastest growing privately-owned companies. EDC is among only .01 percent of small businesses recognized by Inc. 500 magazine from about 30 million such businesses in the U.S.
It’s not just the company that is thriving. EDC is creating opportunities for its staff. Even in this economic climate, many of EDC’s managers in many of its markets continue to earn between $200,000 and a half million dollars.
Allocca said she plans to double the number of producers EDC currently employs. “Attracting and retaining a sales force is critical to our business,” said Allocca, who interviews candidates every day. “The ability to attract and retain the best people is the cornerstone of our success,” she said.
Allocca believes that is one of many factors which contribute to the success of her company. EDC is also doing better than most in a down economy because Allocca has made sure it is diversified, that it has a local presence, it serves the public and private sectors, and because its business model includes quality of life incentives that are attractive to the top talent that EDC recruits for its writers and sales staff – the latter of which Allocca calls engagement managers.
Another factor is Allocca’s foresight to take her company national at a time when similar companies were scaling back. “Had I not gone nation-wide we could have faced possible bankruptcy,” Allocca said. “You can’t afford to be local. You have to diversify to stay in business, to succeed,” she said.
Also enhancing the company’s growth is its specific service and the broad need for such a service. “This is a service which any company in any industry in any geographic location potentially needs. We’re a specialist and a generalist. We can work in any company, in any industry or vertical, in the public or private sector,” she said.
EDC helps develop for its clients the user-friendly documentation for new technology.
“We provide resources that come in and document critical systems and applications for clients. If it’s an IT project it might be a regulatory issue that they need documented. It might be a new system, it might be a training program developed for their people. We provide the resources with the skill and expertise to create that for them, thereby maximizing their profitability, their efficiency or their security,” said EDC Vice President Tom Walsh.
“Growth or change feed a need for our documentation services. The public sector is growing and the private sector is changing,” Allocca said. “Technology is not going to go away. It just changes form. Everybody uses technology. We might be the bridge between the folks that develop the technology and everyone using the system,” she said.
Change within a company can also lead to growth, according to Walsh. “We’re bearing the fruits of changes we put in place years ago and have been working on over the last decade. Antoinette fosters an environment that is very adaptable. Some companies, particularly big companies get very set in their ways and very rigid. They do things the same way year in and year out. We don’t. We’re always asking ourselves what we can do different, and what can we do better. We’re not afraid to implement new things,” Walsh said.
Allocca abandoned an earlier trial and error approach to the company’s hiring practices, which relied heavily on in-house training, to instead recruit professionals with specific backgrounds: sales experience in staffing, technology or consulting. Successful candidates’ background coupled with Allocca’s training program allows them to transition very quickly, hit the ground running, and produce more quickly.
“That’s what has contributed to our explosive growth,” she said.
The need for adaptability and flexibility is hard-wired into Allocca’s business philosophy. “If you’re not moving forward you’re moving backward,” she said.
Essential Data is also a woman-owned business, and recently has received 8 (a) set-aside certification from the federal government. EDC is the only technical writing company in the U.S. to have such designation. As a result of that, EDC was awarded a $3.5 million project in which EDC partnered with Computer Science Corporation, a government contractor, to provide documentation services for EDC’s client, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
Under Allocca’s leadership and direction, EDC has grown into a multi-million dollar business with offices and employees in more than 30 locations nationwide. EDC has won the Outstanding Employer Award and was recognized as the fastest growing women owned business by Working Woman Magazine for two consecutive years. She was also honored for her success as one of the top 500 business owners in the U.S. at a White House dinner.