ValueWalk’s Q&A session with Ben Giordano, the founder of FreshySites. In this interview, Ben discusses the advantages of using WordPress as a content management system, maintaining operational efficiency, creating a company culture, the biggest challenge faced by the company, and the key strategies for continued growth of the company.
In today’s competitive business environment, it’s extremely difficult to set yourself apart as a web services company. On top of that, it’s even harder to do so when you operate out of a small and historically economically depressed city in Upstate New York. FreshySites, a web design and development company based in Binghamton, NY, has overcome these hurdles and then some, experiencing unprecedented success in a small market with a huge need for professionally designed websites. Recognizing the room for opportunity in Broome County, area native Ben Giordano founded the company in 2012, and its growth since then has been staggering. Starting as a one-man operation with 45 accounts, the company now boasts more than 950 accounts a team of employees.
The area has taken notice of this company breaking the mold. In 2013, FreshySites won the Binghamton Local Development Corporation Business Plan competition. In 2016, Giordano was named the Syracuse District Young Entrepreneur of the Year from the U.S. Small Business Administration as well as the 2016 Small Business Person of the Year from the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.
The exponential growth of such a high-tech business in an area that has traditionally been lacking momentum is notable, and Giordano only plans to expand from here.
Q&A with FreshySites Founder
What are the advantages of using WordPress as a content management system? Why has WordPress been a successful tool for FreshySites?
WordPress is the top content management system on the market – and for good reason. While it started as purely a blogging platform, WordPress has grown tremendously to include features that allow greater customization with the existing user-friendly interface. Whether a client wants something very basic or something with detailed design elements, WordPress allows us to customize any site with blog posts, webpage content, contact forms and more. Since it’s so widely used, there are a lot of options for tools and plugins, which allows for quicker and more affordable web development.
It’s also a content management system that runs smoothly, which is a big priority for us when providing our clients with the best possible final product. Our WordPress sites have had a great track record with showing up in search results, being easy to navigate, and loading and reflecting changes quickly.
How does FreshySites maintain operational efficiency as ta web design company in the Southern Tier?
We are a big proponent of process-driven design. Everything we do has a process and those processes are continually tweaked and improved upon to build efficiency for our team and effectiveness for our clients. One of the tools we have optimized to help us stay organized is Asana, a web-based project management tool that has helped us optimize team efficiency. After adopting the tool as our primary means of organization, we’ve become power users, utilizing it to delegate tasks, stay on track with projects and streamline our workflow. Embracing new solutions and technologies has allowed us to continue to learn and get better, and our client base only benefits from this growth and gain.
As a rapidly growing company, what insights can you share about creating a company culture that employees want to be a part of?
I believe in treating everyone like adults, as there has to be a culture of mutual respect among all team members. We abide by a set of core ethos, which includes a value we call “being ego free.” I think this extends to us as an employer as well, as we always try to make our employees feel comfortable and valued. We’re constantly trying to offer our employees a workplace that aligns with their personal life, so recently we introduced a new policy where our team members have the complete freedom to work from home whenever it’s more convenient for them. I think this policy communicates to them that we as a company value their personal time and realize that employees who have the time and flexibility to take care of their home life are more productive and efficient during working hours.
What is the biggest challenge faced by the company right now?
Making sure the right team members are in the right seats is always a challenge for any small business. We are in a great position right now as a company and as we grow, the challenge will be to ensure we maintain proper balance and appoint suitable team members to the best fitting roles and responsibility sets. Personnel and HR are always the toughest part and biggest challenge of running any small business.
What’s next for FreshySites in the upcoming year? Where do you see the company in another five years?
Since founding the company in 2011, we’ve grown from one customer to more than 1,700 customers in eight years without any sort of venture funding. I have to imagine that is pretty rare in small business and I know it is rare in our industry which is a very crowded and competitive environment. As we continue to develop, we’re exploring the strategy of acquiring smaller web development companies and taking on their clients. We've been building in the mergers and acquisitions space and that is something we're very excited about. Most recently, we took on a more than 100-client portfolio. I think that will be a fun and exciting new challenge and growth strategy for us over the next few years.
What are FreshySites' key strategies for continued growth?
While we’ve been incredibly successful so far, I still think our growth strategy is to take it slow and steady. Our priority is to take care of each customer, one by one, one phone call at a time, one email at a time and one meeting at a time. If we put in the work every single day, I'm confident that we'll look back in five years or ten years and be pretty happy with what we have accomplished.