Source One’s 20th Anniversary: An Interview with the Founder and CEO

Before the internet was commercialized, when cordless phones and the Apple II were brand new, company procurement departments depended on supplier sales personnel and historical data to determine their purchasing practices.  Founded in the age of floppy disks and Nirvana, Source One offered buyers with a new approach to buying the products and services they needed by offering unique market intelligence to help level the playing field.

Over the next 20 years, through the internet boom, 6 Olympic games, and the commercialized use of cell phones, Source One worked with hundreds of companies in numerous industries and negotiating with thousands of suppliers.  This experienced has molded the company into the leading procurement transformation services provider, having produced hundreds of millions of dollars in client savings.

To kick off Source One’s 20th Anniversary celebration, I took the time to sit down with one of the founders, Abe Podolak, and current Chief Executive Officer, Steve Belli, to talk about the company’s progress over the past two decades and their outlook for its future.

Over the past 20 years, how has Source One improved as an organization?

Abe: Since the company’s founding, I think our greatest improvement has been our breadth of experience.  We have had the opportunity to work in so many different industries and product categories and have developed a knowledgeable and creative staff to be able to take on brand new projects and initiatives with enthusiasm and produce results for our clients.  We have also improved the way we do business over the years.

Steve:  Yes, our approach to business has improved over the years.  This includes the way we involve clients in our process, our hiring of qualified people, and how we invest our time and resources.  Source One has always been profitable and our growth has accelerated since the start of the recession.  As a focused strategic sourcing provider, we were selected over general consulting firms to help companies drive savings in their supply chains.  By doing so, we have improved our status in the marketplace and have gained a reputation of honesty, consistency, and expertise.

How has Source One improved its service offering since 1992?

Abe: Many improvements have been made to our service offering as a direct result of our employment of skilled people who are knowledgeable and adaptable.  Our improved leadership and management skills have nurtured a group of intelligent people who are committed to Source One’s mission.  As a result, our project tracking has improved along with our reporting tools.  Our IT infrastructure is much more advanced which helps us support our gathering and analysis of market intelligence.

Steve:  As Abe mentioned, our management team has played a large part in the expansion of our service offering.  We now have a dedicated team of IT/Telecommunications specialists who are category experts in their field.  We are helping organizations’ supply chains with offshoring, near shoring, direct materials, logistics, and managed services projects. Our training and development programs for staff have allowed us the flexibility to adapt our processes to take on new challenges as the market for our services evolves.

How does Source One foster long-term relationships with clients?

Steve:  The most important element in fostering long term client relationships is to provide them with quality, service and value. Our focus as an organization is to provide our clients with the highest quality services in an expeditious manner. We find that clients are under pressure to produce results for their management and we play a large role in helping them to achieve their goals.

A big part of Source One’s success can also be contributed to our contingency-based payment option.  This option requires us to make an investment of $100,000 to $250,000 in consulting hours before Source One receives any revenue.  This option allows our clients to engage us when they need help but don’t have a budget.

Abe: We have received wonderful feedback from our clients over the years.  One of the most frequent compliments we receive is praise of our staff and their professionalism and responsiveness.  This is largely due to the dedication of our staff to client management which entails regularly scheduled communications from the very beginning of an engagement to the very end.  Our clients also appreciate the respectfulness with which our staff engages their suppliers.

As leaders of the organization, how have you motivated and encouraged Source One’s success?

Abe:  My leadership stems directly from Source One’s Guiding Principles that were developed by company employees almost 10 years ago.  These basic principles: Reward for Value, Exceed Expectations, Treat People as People, Always with Integrity, and Do It Together, have been instilled in our staff using a lead-by-example approach.  We have developed the sensitivity of our staff to be able to apply our Guiding Principles to every relationship and interaction.   We’ve worked to increase company training and tools and we explore all opportunities when making leadership decisions.  I have made sure that Source One is generous with our staff and clients by focusing on mutual success.

Steve: When I joined the company in 2003, Source One’s revenue was relatively flat and profits were barely breaking even.  Along with an excellent executive team hired that same year, I worked with Abe to reorganize the company to better serve our clients and improve our performance.  Since that time we have averaged 15 to 20 percent growth each year.

What are your goals for the organization over the next 20 years?

Abe:  My goals center on our staff and their proficiency.  I’d like to improve their self-reliance and hone the ability to recruit, train, and initiate new staff members who can exceed the expectations of Source One’s clients.  I’d also like to see our staff members reach their own personal goals in businesses, even if that means leaving Source One to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

Steve:  This is an exciting time and there are huge opportunities for us to continue to expand our service offering and to help more organizations to streamline their operations and get more value from their supply base. I look forward to continuing Source One’s growth over the next 20 years.

Share this