Back in the Field
Best known as a founder of Twin Cities–based technology investment firm Sherpa Partners, C. McKenzie (Mac) Lewis III found that he missed the excitement of running a technology company. A few years ago, he decided to run one again. But what kind?
Lewis dismissed software (too many changes to the business) and hardware (margins are too small, and “you had to go offshore for manufacturing”). That left services. Lewis knew from his own experience in the high-tech realm that there was an opportunity in field service for the electronics industry. Scores of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and other companies need to provide warranty, repair, upgrade, maintenance, and other kinds of service to electronic equipment ranging from point-of-sale systems, to PCs, routers, printers, copiers, and more.
The company that Lewis founded in 2007, St. Louis Park–based Field Solutions, is a one-stop shop for both electronics suppliers and multiple-line electronic service firms. “By enabling service providers to go directly to the technicians, we eliminate various layers of intermediate mark-up,” Lewis says.
Field Solutions maintains a database of more than 22,000 technicians across the U.S. and Canada, including their rÃ©sumÃ©s, professional certifications, and performance records. The company’s proprietary online software system further reduces the cost of managing independent service technicians, processing contracts, and other back-office functions. Clients can post service requests even for projects that include dozens of locations around the country. The system directs the postings to qualified technicians, who also can accept jobs on line.
Last October, Field Solutions reported 81.5 percent growth in its third-quarter revenues. Lewis says that during the second half of 2010, annualized run-rate revenue was between from $16 and $20 million; he predicts that Field Solutions could hit the $100 million mark within the next five years.
While Field Solutions does not reveal client names, Lewis says that his start-up currently includes several Fortune 500 companies among its customers.