John Eckstrom, President/CEO of Carolina Business Equipment, has been selected by Corporate Vision Magazine as a true innovator in his field. Corporate Vision is dedicated to working around the clock to shine a spotlight on the brightest, best performing and most deserving companies and individuals from around the business world.
Having begun as a traditional copier company in the mid-1970’s, CBE has now become a fully managed network support provider – providing sales and support of server and workstation hardware, HaaS, IaaS, DR solutions, managed email and Office applications, and a host of other offerings for today’s complexed computing environment. Simply stated, Carolina Business Equipment is a business process advisor and a solutions provider. John Eckstrom joined the company as its CFO in 1994 and helped the company reinvent itself and stay relevant in a constantly changing industry. Most of these changes centered around the networks that supported their client’s businesses. John chats to us about how the company approaches clients and how CBE works with them to achieve their goals.
“It is amusing for me to hear that something can’t be done. While we all realize that there are practical limits on what you try to do, there are very few things that truly can’t be done. At times, I remind the team that nearly 50 years ago, we put a man on the moon and brought him back safely. With this as a backdrop, there are much fewer issues facing the typical office environment that seem impossible. As business process advisors, it is our job to deal with the major challenges facing the specific industries of our customers. We will let the other folks “talk” about the impossibilities, but it is our job to perform them.”
Despite John becoming award-winning, John is reluctant to be in the limelight and acknowledges that it is a collective effort from his staff that contributes to CBE’s overall success.
“What I see is, others look at CBE’s success and automatically call me a successful CEO. While that may feel good, I see these as two different focal points and I would have to say that the most important task has been to assemble a strong team that makes us all look good. If you look at the team that has been assembled, you probably would not recognize me for this award. Maybe another way to view it would be to recognize me for the creation of a first-class team. For now, I will smile, nod and say thanks for this great honor and I will quickly acknowledge the strong management team that makes me look good.”
CBE operates in a challenging industry that has gone through many changes over the years. According to John, the current state of the industry continues to be one of hyper-change. He talks about what is high on everyone’s agenda and the importance of technology. “We could fill up pages and pages of issues affecting the industry and on the top of almost every list centers around security,” Eckstrom says. He continues with “Here, we have been part of some very effective initiatives that put us in the forefront in our industry.”
“Absolutely everything we do and touch is centered around technology. The focus now becomes the delivery of those solutions. When solutions are being delivered - it must be done with an uncompromising commitment to excellence and pinpoint execution every time. What we see too often are people who have a standard of ‘good enough.’ From our perspective, that is a bar set too low. At CBE, we begin every engagement with the objective of making the encounter an amazing experience for our clients. As front-end planning is being done, most of the input coming from Eckstrom is the simple question, “Will it Amaze?” We routinely get confirmation of this from unsolicited communications from our clients stating that they did not know how “sick” they were until CBE made them better.”
John concludes the interview by informing us of the company’s future plans and growth opportunities in the coming months ahead.
“Clichés are rather boring to me, but we have all heard that if you are not moving forward, the only other option is to move backwards. Standing still just does not work. While we have been on a real growth track for the last 5 years, we recognize what that brings. Every aspect of our growth presents new challenges, but our view of challenges is that they also provide new opportunities to shine. Right now, we are having fun as we consider those opportunities for this next year. I will also add that 2017 will be an exciting year for us here at CBE, and we look forward to reporting on the accomplishments in a later edition.”