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Corner Office: Brian Samelson

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Biz

Brian Samelson
CEO/President, eMaint Enterprises

It was in 1986 when Brian Samelson founded Marlton-based eMaint Enterprises, a company that provides CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management Software) solutions to a wide range of organizations from manufacturers to health care institutions.

Needless to say, a lot has changed in terms of technology since then. Now boasting more than 16,000 users worldwide, Samelson says his company led the charge in what’s now referred to as cloud technology; but his keys to success lie not just in the tech world but in understanding the needs of both clients and his employees. Samelson took time out to speak with South Jersey Biz recently about that along with changes in technology, what the company does to stay ahead of the game, and even how pop culture influences have helped shape the way he runs his business.

How has the company grown during your time?
It grew incrementally in the beginning. We were early adopters of the Web-based model for software delivery, launching a Web-based product in 1999. Recent growth has been explosive as Web-based software has become the model of choice. That, coupled with a high customer retention rate, has enabled us to enjoy a three-year growth rate of over 77 percent.

Where did your path to leadership begin?
Learning to listen and focus on the needs of each client was my first leadership lesson. As the company grew and I took on other employees, I tried to create a company and environment that would make me happy and motivated to come to work every day and surrounded myself with people who are equally passionate about customer success. That philosophy hasn’t changed over the last 26-plus years. I also draw inspiration from music. Many leadership lessons have been learned from “musical entrepreneurs” such as Bruce Springsteen. He too had a vision, is passionate, not afraid to take risks and puts customers first.

Describe your business approach.
We define our approach to customer service as “Service on 11” (11 on a scale of 1 to 10 for non Spinal Tap fans!). Every member of the team is motivated and expected to over-deliver. We also recognize that every client’s needs are unique. … The fastest-growing department in our company is our client services team, which includes customer success managers (whose sole mission is to advocate for customers), and customer enablement managers who work with clients throughout the lifecycle of doing business with us.

What makes eMaint Enterprises unique?
We don’t have the most traditional work environment. Our walls are painted in our corporate colors (bright green, blue and orange). Desks are in open areas. We keep every imaginable type of snack or beverage on-hand (and even lunches if you get too busy to go out) and enjoy the company of Xander, a puppy who comes to work every day and keeps us company.

How have advancements in technology changed your business?
The first generation of our product required customers to install and maintain the software. When we introduced the Web-based version, this allowed us to market and demonstrate our product directly to the end user and allowed our customers to get up and running quickly, all through the Web. Mobile devices now allow customers to use our software without being tied to a desk or a computer.

What’s the first piece of technology you encountered where you thought, “This is the future.”
The idea of running software applications from the Internet. We were very early pioneers in what is today referred to as the cloud, but from the first time I encountered the idea that the burden of software installation and maintenance could be offloaded from the customer environment into a centrally managed vendor environment, and done so on top of readily available and easily affordable infrastructure, I was convinced this would be the future.

The company was praised for how its service wasn’t interrupted during Hurricane Sandy. How do you keep ahead of the game like that?
I guess that being a technology company and leader, you’re always looking ahead and anticipating what storms are coming down the pike that you need to stay ahead of. You adapt to stay leading-edge and meet customer needs, even as those needs change due to changing technology. Our customer base is worldwide and they rely on us to make sure their maintenance software is up and available—so we must always be thinking in terms of zero downtime. It’s just our M.O.

If you had to give one key to success, what would it be?
A simple formula: Employee Happiness + Customer Satisfaction = Success. And the great thing is, it provides success for everyone in the equation!

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 2, Issue 3 (March, 2013).
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