Milestone moment: CEO of fast-growing firm most proud of what hasn’t changed

Phil Castle, The Business Times: 

Jerome Gonzales oversees one of the fastest-growing professional services companies in the country. Ten years after Gonzales founded JG Management Systems in Grand Junction, the staff has grown to nearly 90 spread out among 13 states. In 2010, annual revenue for the firm increased to $7.4 million.

Jerome Gonzales — founder, president and chief executive officer of JG Management Systems based in Grand Junction — explains the business model for the company as an intersection between the services the company offers and the needs of its clients, most of them government agencies.

In the process, JG Management System has won numerous accolades, including inclusion in the Inc. magazine list of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States in four out of the past five years. The firm perennially ranks among the top 250 private companies in Colorado and top 50 minority and women-owned business in the state. The most recent honor for the business is one the most prestigious yet: selection as one of 11 winners in the Colorado Biz magazine Top Company competition for 2011.

Ask Gonzales what he’s most proud of, though, and he answers it’s what hasn’t changed about the operation. “I’m most impressed about the things that have stayed the same at JGMS over the past 10 years.”

That includes a commitment to deliver what the company promises to its clients as well as to treat employees like members of an extended family and give back to the community. Gonzales measures success in terms of not only in doing well, but also doing good.

Pressed to characterize the success of JG Management in a single word, Gonzales replies “luck.” But he also uses words like resiliency, tenacity and cash flow. And he’s equally quick to credit a growing staff carefully hired not only on the basis of experiences and skills, but also the ability to work as a team and fit into the company culture.

Employees in turn praise Gonzales and Nick Aranda, chief operations officer.

“It really feels like a family here,” says Rachelle Bullock, a technical editor at JG Management Systems headquarters, a collection of second-story offices along Main Street in downtown Grand Junction. It’s a feeling Bullock says motivates her to come in early or stay late when the need arises.

JG Management Systems offers a variety of services, ranging from engineering analysis and design to facility assessments and operational support to program and project management. The company derives the bulk of its work from the growing group of government agencies it counts among its clients.

Gonzales founded JG Management Systems in 2001 after working in various engineering and management positions for 12 years, nine of those with the Department of Energy.

The company has grown quickly from the start. By 2007, the venture made its initial appearance on the Inc. magazine list of the fastest-growing companies in the country, ranking 343rd overall and 27th among government services firms.

Between 2003 and 2006, the span upon which the 2007 Inc. magazine ranking was based, annual revenue for JG Management Systems skyrocketed nearly 800 percent from $400,000 to more than $4 million.

Revenue growth between 2007 and 2010 was a more modest 23 percent, increasing from $6 million to $7.4 million. Still, revenue continued to trend upward in the aftermath of a recession and increasingly stiff competition for government contracts, Gonzales says.

JG Management Systems initially derived a lot of its contract work from the Department of Energy. But the company subsequently expanded its base of clients to include numerous other government agencies, among them Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Defense, National Nuclear Safety Administration, Forest Service and Postal Service.

JG Management provides a spectrum of services. The firm inspects and assesses the condition of government facilities, determines what repairs or renovations are needed, estimates the cost of the work, drafts plans and oversees construction. The firm also prepares environmental assessments and impact statements.

JG Management Systems has earned certification for meeting the International Organization ISO 9001 requirements for quality management.

Even as the company’s client list and scope of work has increased over the past 10 years, so has its staffing. The operation has become decentralized out of necessity to meet the needs of its clients, employing a total of nearly 90 people in 13 states.

Gonzales often describes the business model for his firm as the intersection between the services the company offers and the needs of its clients. “We promise, then perform. We’re not going to promise something if we can’t deliver.”

Gonzales credits his employees for delivering on those promises and maintains what he considers a family culture that includes paid benefits and flexible scheduling for employees.

JG Management Systems was selected in 2007 as one of Colorado’s Best Companies for Working Families, a recognition program developed by Colorado Parent magazine. The firm also has earned recognition from the Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve, an agency of the Department of Defense that promotes support for employee participation in military service.

Employees rave about the working environment at JG Management Systems, including the flexibility to bring children and pets to work, the group games and activities and even the good-natured kidding. “We’re always digging each other,” says Kim Kelley, an accounting assistant in the Grand Junction office.

Employees also receive 40 hours of paid time off a year to volunteer with a community organization or join in community service activities.

Employees have taken advantage of the benefit to go on mission trips to Africa, plant trees in Washington, D.C., or simply work with senior citizens once a week.

JG Management Systems has a stated goal of donating 4 percent of net income to charitable organizations. Last year, such contributions exceeded 12 percent. The firm sponsors an annual entrepreneurship event at Colorado Mesa University. The company also supports the Riverside Education Center in Grand Junction, which offers after-school tutoring and other enrichment activities for students.

The combination of achievement, financial performance and community involvement helped make JG Management Systems a winner of a 2011 Colorado Biz magazine Top Company award in the services industry. The 24-year-old awards program is billed as the most competitive in the state. For 2011, JG Management Systems was among 33 finalists vying for awards in 11 industry sectors.

Looking ahead to the second decade of operation for his company, Gonzales remains upbeat in his outlook. “I think it’s positive. I think we’re going to continue to grow.”

He hopes to increase business with existing customers as well as develop new services and clients, including those in the private sector. He also looks to expand through mergers and acquisitions if those opportunities arise.

But at the same time, Gonzales expects some things to remain the same, in particular the way the company delivers on its promises to clients, cares for employees and supports the community. “How we do it is what we’re most proud of,” he says.

 

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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