The 2013 Seven Small Jewels: Improving Enterprises

Improving Enterprise - Curtis Hite In consulting, sometimes a firm’s name has no rhyme or reason. Or its significance is completely unknown. For Improving Enterprises, nothing could be further from the truth: The name says it all.

Improving Enterprises is the result of the 2007 merger of Improving Enterprises LLC and Blue Ocean Group, which was established a year earlier by Curtis Hite, Barry Rogers, and Ric DeAnda as a high-end technology services firm with a focus on consulting and project outsourcing. Today, Hite serves as CEO and Chairman of Improving Enterprises, which employs an “enterprise strategy of finding like-minded companies and then helping those companies grow,” Hite says.

And grow. And grow. Since the firm launched, it has achieved 30 percent annual growth. Last year was no different and in 2013 Hite is forecasting another 33 percent increase. “We started right at the downturn and it changed our approach but was beneficial in the long run,” Hite says. “Starting in a very difficult time could’ve been a disaster, but we’ve had a very senior model from the beginning. This was fortunate because at that time clients were only willing to spend on senior-level talent.”

Since then, Improving Enterprises has grown slowly but surely. Dallas was first. Then Columbus came on board and in just two years revenue has increased five fold in that location, Hite says. Then came Houston, which doubled its revenue to $1 million in just four months.

Hite says the goal is to open one location a year. “Over the next five years we envision becoming a 1,500-person company, but not one company that has 1,500 people, but rather a federation of 10 companies that have 150 people each,” Hite says. “We’ll share a common brand and a common vision but each market will have localized ownership and a localized culture that suits their needs.”

The firm is targeting Austin, Texas, Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Minneapolis Phoenix and Seattle, he says. Bringing new locations on board is no easy task. “One of the hardest things we do is find these companies,” Hite says. “The biggest challenge is finding companies that are interested in sharing in the success, which is another differentiator for the firm,” Hite says.

Improving Enterprises has more than 60 owners, which has become “a very significant part of our culture,” he says. And for those employees who aren’t owners, the firm has a generous profit share at the end of the year. “Each office location has its own profit share so its re-emphasizes the local cultures,” he says. “We have very localized behavior and that’s certainly a core value for us.”

Some 90 percent of Improving Enterprises’ hires come from its own network. And its senior-level talent is a key to the firm’s success, he says. “Today we are an inverted pyramid, and we have more principals than we have other levels of consultants,” Hite says. “A lot of firms are playing the leverage game and our model is the exact opposite.”

And it sure is working.

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