Edward Leva and John Gaudu met in a Bruegger's Bagels restaurant early one morning in 2002 to discuss a business opportunity.
Leva had just left a national consulting firm and was being offered a new job in Boston, but he wanted to stay in the area. Gaudu owned a technology company offering service, support and network engineering. The two realized there was an unmet need for consulting, recruiting and outsourcing services in the tech realm.
"We met at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning-no papers or PDAs or iPads, just a pencil and a napkin-and came up with a business plan," Leva recalled.
The company they came up with, Wellington Steele & Associates Inc., was launched in 2002 and over the past 11 years has carved out a niche in its field.
Many services Well-ington Steele offers focus on high technology. It works with clients on consulting projects for information technology strategies and database architecture, as well as consulting with clients on business transformations that introduce transformative technology.
The company also offers outsourcing and recruitment options within different areas.
"The biggest things we can give our clients are knowledge and flexibility," said Leva, company president. "A lot of larger firms have the knowledge but aren't as flexible. Our decision-making is so quick that we can really be effective in ways other firms can't."
Leva acknowledged that competition in the field is heavy but said Wellington Steele has a strong group of employees and IT expertise to set it apart. As the Rochester-area economy has shifted away from one based on manufacturing and a few large companies to one based on smaller, tech-oriented companies, Wellington Steele has grown.
"People know about the big manufacturing companies and the Kodak bankruptcy, but Rochester is very well-positioned in the software development and high-tech fields," said Gaudu, vice president. "That's a sweet spot for us because for them to do the same kind of business in New York City or Boston would cost a lot more than what we offer. It's been a real boon to us."
The numbers back up Gaudu's assertion. The company has more than doubled its revenue in the past two years, growing from $2 million in 2010 to $4.1 million last year and a projection of more than $5 million for the current fiscal year. The number of employees has also grown steadily, from 25 full-time-equivalent positions in 2010 to 34 today. Employment numbers shift based on current projects and their staffing requirements, Gaudu said.
As more tech companies spin out of the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology, Wellington Steele has even more opportunities to grow, Gaudu added.
"The old stigma is that Rochester and Buffalo are blue-collar towns, but that's just not true anymore," he said.
Wellington Steele is not limited to Rochester, Leva said. It has a client base stretching across the United States and many well-established client relationships.
Leva said the company's growth has come largely because of these relationships.
"We're so grateful for all of the clients we've worked with and for the work every employee at this company has done," he said. "We wouldn't be where we are today without them, and we need more firms like ours in the area. There are a ton of national companies that do what we do, so we need them in Rochester instead of New York City or North Carolina."
The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year's Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 6. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.
Wellington Steele & Associates Inc.
Consulting, recruiting and outsourcing services in technology
2012 ranking: 54
Top executive: Edward Leva, president
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