Helping Hands: HTG Peer Groups Highlight Commitment To Each Other
By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor
I always enjoy talking with Arlin Sorensen, founder of HTG Peer Groups, and today was no exception. He shared with me the big news out of the organization's third annual HTG Summit, which runs May 2 to 5 at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Dallas and drew more than 500 attendees and 60 vendor partners.
Hands That Give is the new HTG initiative unveiled by Sorensen, which goes hand-in-hand with a session of the summit that teaches member companies how to develop a disaster recovery plan for their businesses. "We have focused a lot around legacy planning, which started at the personal level and this year moved on to a business level," explains Sorensen. He explains that Hands That Give is an emergency fund that pulls donations from members and vendor partners to support deployment of teams of member volunteers to help other members facing a personal or business disaster.
"This is a culmination of many things we've been working on, sort of a puzzle we were finally able to put together," says Sorensen. The concept, he explains, is that members are asked to make a minimum donation that goes into a fund. That fund can then be tapped to pay for a team of member volunteers to travel and support another member facing a natural disaster — a tornado, flood, earthquake, fire — or personal emergency — health, marital, or family crisis. "We are extending the member-helping-member service more deeply, and we feel it especially important to those members that may have one person in the leadership role at their business." For instance, one member was recently injured, and because of his ownership role in his IT solutions business, his time missed from work became an emergency situation for both his family and business.
Sorensen reiterated that this program was built on some past decisions that might have raised eyebrows at the time, such as standardizing the members on the ConnectWise platform. But that interoperability enables members to have visibility into each other's businesses and, in an emergency, quickly communicate and remediate business needs throughout the HTG network. Also key to this program's launch was achieving profitability as a group. "When we first thought of this, part of struggle was that we had to become profitable companies before we could give stuff away or take time away to help each other," explains Sorensen. In 2010, HTG saw solid growth, with $687 million in revenue achieved by its 250 member companies; of that, about $75 million was profit.
While HTG is still at capacity in terms of open slots within its peer groups, it is launching a new group in Australia, and is still accepting applications to fill openings created by turnover. The group has also segmented a group for larger companies, those with 50 or more employees, since big businesses face different challenges. "We'll welcome management teams vs. individual leaders in this pilot group, so each company will bring three management team members, and we'll tackle their unique challenges when it comes to building and scaling their businesses," says Sorensen. The group will reconvene for its fall summit the two days prior to the November ConnectWise IT Nation Partner event in Orlando.