Name: Branden Jenkins
Jobs: Chief executive officer of Retail Anywhere, chairman of Ground Control
What they said then:
In 2006, a San Luis Obispo-based satellite communications company called Ground Control fired its CEO and president.
The move was part of a major restructuring in which the company shed 10 employees, leaving 25 at its Buckley Road office.
“I’m sure we can be a great company,” said then-company chairman Mark Wright, who started the company with Tony Coles but then fired Coles, the CEO/president, in the downsizing.
Branden Jenkins took over as acting CEO for Ground Control, in addition to his role as CEO of Retail Anywhere in Atascadero, a company he acquired in 2002.
What he says now:
Ground Control’s business has been “surprisingly really good this year,” said Jenkins, chairman of the communications corporation.
The company serves emergency responders, government agencies and other large organizations with a need for data service in remote locations.
Based in Atascadero, Jeff Staples has served as CEO for about two years. In that time, Jenkins has seen improvement in sales, marketing and customer service — as well as overall growth and profitability.
Jenkins called 2008 and 2009 a “rough patch” as sales growth slowed for both Ground Control and Retail Anywhere.
But both are now “having record years,” Jenkins added.
“It’s phenomenal,” he said. “They’re both profitable and healthy.”
This year, the satellite communications provider is seeing more demand from troops and support businesses in and around Afghanistan and Iran.
Retail Anywhere, which provides point-of-sale software for small-to-midsized retail chains, has seen a 40 percent revenue increase over last year.
“Last year, retailers were sitting on their hands,” Jenkins said. “This year the retailers that are healthy know they will get through the storm.”
With that confidence, Retail Anywhere’s customers are investing in larger purchases they believe will save money down the line. The software can help them cut costs and turn merchandise more quickly.
Both Retail Anywhere and Ground Control have shifted pricing models. Instead of traditional upfront licensing fees for unlimited use, customers pay a monthly rate.
“Long term, it’s much better for us,” said Jenkins. “Short term, we don’t get the cash injection up front.”
To streamline their own costs, both Jenkins’ companies are outsourcing and have replaced outdated systems of data management with more efficient ones.
“Right now we’re trying to hire talent,” he said. “I’ve been very surprised by the lack of applicants.”
It appears many technology workers and engineers have moved away for lack of work.
So Retail Anywhere and Ground Control have more workers who telecommute from outside the state or country.
“The reality is that not all of them (workers) can afford to stay in the area, nor do all of them want to,” he said. “Ten years ago, it probably would have bothered me a lot more.”
- Raven J. Railey