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Profit Time

Ben and Thad Forrester are fans of the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible, a reality show that attempts to overhaul America’s struggling restaurants through creativity and resourcefulness.
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Ben and Thad Forrester are fans of the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible, a reality show that attempts to overhaul America’s struggling restaurants through creativity and resourcefulness. Now the co-owners of Springfield, MO-based AV integration firm ForresterTech, will get the chance to finetune their own business, having been chosen as the winner of Residential Systems’ Resi Business Makeover contest.

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Winning the contest only goes so far, of course. For the honor to mean anything, the ForresterTech team will need to implement the expert business and project management advice from respected industry consultants Ryan Brown, from Media Environment Design, and Leslie Shiner, from The ShinerGroup, over the next six months.

The Forrester brothers believe that 2012 is a pivotal year for their company. Although the family-owned and operated integration firm has generated more revenue each year since it was founded in 2004, it has yet to turn a profit.

“For the past two years we have felt that we were just about to push the boulder over the hill and start rolling in the right direction of profitability. We almost get there, but almost is not good enough,” the Forresters wrote in their contest application.

For Brown and Shiner, choosing a winner wasn’t easy, even after narrowing the entries down to five finalists. But ForresterTech had that special something they were looking to groom into a more successful operation.

“Ben and Thad are committed to building a successful business, and we’re looking forward to working with them to help achieve their goals,” Brown said.

Ben, who earned a degree in computer science from the University of Missouri, noted that his mostly college-educated team uses various software tools with some success, but they’ve been less consistent with job costing and data capture from projects.

Ben calls his company a “major hybrid” of residential and commercial integration, having performed as much as 70 percent commercial installs in a given year. These days the split is more 50/50, however, with a majority of business coming from direct client referrals and personal relationships.

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Among the notable points made by Ben and Thad on their contest application was that “there is nothing…more frustrating than people who go to the right people for help, get the right advice, and then continue to do exactly what they’ve always done.”

Those are wise words that were actually inspired by watching participants fail to follow through on Restaurant Impossible. “It always seems like the people on the show get some great advice, and then later, you learn that they basically went back and reverted to what they’ve always been doing,” Ben noted.

In the July issue, we’ll find out if Ben and Thad can stand the heat after they allow more cooks in their own “kitchen.”

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