Welcome to our final interview with LTi co-founder, Randy Haug, celebrating LTi Technology Solutions’ 30th anniversary. We wrap up our series talking about The Phoenix Project, a full re-write of LTi’s software application that ultimately became ASPIRE, our end-to-end lease management solution.
During the economic downturn of 2007-2008, a lot of people in the marketplace shrank back and “circled the wagons,” so to speak. We as a company took the opposite approach. Instead of playing it safe, we decided to move forward with a bold plan to develop a whole new product.
Our team knew the economy would bounce back. We wanted to be ready when it did:
“We saw that a lot of our competitors were still using older technology,” Randy told me. “We wanted to leapfrog what was going on in the industry,” Randy recalled. So we brought on a new batch of new people to help us architect and design an innovative product that would ultimately help us scale into new markets.
When the economy began to grow again, businesses were looking to grow, too. Some lessors did not survive the recession. But the ones that did were ready to expand. We launched our new ASPIRE system during the 2011-2012 timeframe, and we met with a lot of success:
“There was new energy back in the marketplace, and there was new money coming back in the marketplace,” Randy said. “It was probably the best thing we ever did as far as a company is concerned.”
Meeting with Wide Industry Success
The Phoenix Project was no blind leap of faith. We took the time to talk to our customers and asked them what they wanted. Looking at the broader marketplace, we wanted to determine whether this would be a viable product for future customers, too.
“We met with many of our key clients and they told us, we want you to do this,” Randy Haug said. “We want to expand and grow and this new technology is going to allow us to ramp up…to be better than our competition.”
When the product launched, it garnered a lot of enthusiasm from our customer base. Many of them saw the potential to be able to scale their businesses using a more streamlined platform to manage their leases all in one place. But it was not just our own customers who were excited.
“What I was really surprised with was the enthusiasm of the industry in general,” Randy said.
Very quickly, new customers were approaching us that we didn’t have access to before. Even if they didn’t ultimately do business with us right away, many of those in the industry who saw the new product walked away impressed with what our team built.
ASPIRE continues to be the premier software platform for equipment finance companies today. Our user base on the end-to-end platform continues to grow. Our company’s ongoing commitment to ASPIRE means we are always improving the product in order to help our customers grow into the businesses they want to be. As Randy told me,
“You’re never done developing in this business.”
Randy’s Advice for Business Owners
Finally, Randy shares with me some of the insights he’s learned as a business owner for 30 years now. Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice to wrap up this final interview:
On customer service: “If you provide great service, exceptional service to your customers, they will probably tell 5 or 6 other people that they know. If you do a horrible job, and you do not have consistency in your customer service, it doesn’t really matter how good your product is, they will tell 13 people. So you want to be on the good side of that.”
On making early mistakes: “One of the things I think is really key for our business…is we’re not afraid to make mistakes. I think you have to be able to make some mistakes to figure out what the right way is. I think when you’re first in business you sometimes are frozen and you don’t do the things that you probably need to do because you’re so fearful…and you’re kind of like, just make a decision and move on.”
On trusting your people: “I think you can really get jaded if you think you have all the right answers…Other answers need to come from other people, who we have here, that are excellent and can give us the right answers. I have to rely on them. That’s how you grow people and that’s how you have a good company.”