Let’s be honest, many of us have fantasized about quitting our jobs or telling our bosses what we really think, but few of us have the courage to do it. Nearly 36 years ago, Dan O’Toole, President of Ontario-based Phoenix Systems, had the courage to do both, and he has never looked back.
In 1980, O’Toole was working at an up-and-coming software development company when its leadership made what he considers a “bet your business decision” that he was certain would lead to the demise of the company. “I felt that the company would not survive that decision,” says O’Toole. “So I tendered my resignation.”
While still an employee of the company, O’Toole had been contemplating starting his own technology business for some time. When his employer made that fateful decision, he realized the time was right to jump full-time into entrepreneurship and set his plan in motion.
O’Toole had been working in the industry for 10 years before starting his company and over the years had come to the realization that his approach to business was somewhat different than other businesses in play at the time. “From the onset, we worked to understand the requirements of our clients and we did whatever was necessary to get the job done,” says O’Toole. “It was a very different working environment for its day,” he says, referring to all the days, nights and weekends spent growing the business while other businesses kept to a strict 9 to 5 schedule. “Our philosophy and consultative approach has always been to be cost-effective, ensure that our fees are offset by savings for our clients, and that we win the business every single day.”
That approach to business has paid off. O’Toole has led his company from a single location, single product offering to a multi-location, multiple product international enterprise. Phoenix Systems primarily services small- to medium-sized manufacturing and distribution businesses that have levels of operational complexities such as multiple currencies, nationalities, and locations.
“We provide automation tools, business guidance, and best practices for clients to minimize their cost of doing business and drive profitability,” he says. Whether for day-to-day operations, United Communications (UC), Warehouse Management (WMS), or Customer Resource Management (CRM), Phoenix Systems provides business software solutions, training and guidance for its clients. With a diverse roster of clients that include Pizza Pizza and Weight Watchers, Phoenix Systems has helped companies across North America overcome the intricacies of growth.
O’Toole credits Sloan Partners with allowing him to focus on growing his business rather than on financial and tax reporting. “They have assisted us in very specific areas with respect to future planning, tax planning, and conformance,” he says. “We’ve worked with Sloan for more than five years now, and they have given us good management and advice. We are very pleased with our partnership with Sloan.”
Two years ago, Phoenix Systems was ranked on PROFIT Magazine’s Top 500 Fastest-Growing Companies list, quite an accomplishment considering the company has been around for more than three decades. And as for the employer that O’Toole was sure was making the wrong decision? It folded by the end of his first year of business, accelerating his own business model when those old customers came looking for a new source of software development support. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?