Longtime staffer becomes CEO, buys IT company
By KERRY FELTNER
Justin Copie became CEO of Innovative Solutions on January 1st, replacing Bob Titus, who was in the role for 19 years. Copie, 33, also bought full ownership of the company, as of April 22, from Titus.
Innovative Solutions- a dba of Innovative Data Processing Solutions Ltd. - focuses on providing information technology services to small and midsize businesses in health care, finance and manufacturing.
The company employs 70 people and plans to add two staffers by year's end. In the next decade, the goal is to reach 150 employees. It is located at 3495 Winton Place in Henrietta.
The company projects double-digit percentage growth in revenues this year. It ranked No. 67 on the 2015 Rochester Top 100 list of fastest growing private companies.
"I'm in a new role, but it's a role that I'm really here to serve everyone," Copie said. "Two things that I do every single day: I provide the vision and safety. People need to feel safe to fail and safe to succeed."
Titus remains chairman. He will now focus on projects such as building expansion and employee development while easing out of the day-to-day operations. Innovative Solutions was founded in 1989. Titus joined the company in 1996 as its 12th employee.
"What I'm really excited about is what new things (I can) bring to the table here as ideas and suggestions that we haven't even uncovered yet," Titus said. "I have the ability now to do those things that have been on my wish list for years."
Copie has been with the firm for 13 years, starting with the company as a co-op while he was a student at Rochester Institute of Technology. For the past five years, Copie has worked with Titus to develop the skills to take over the organization. He has also worked with outside coaches.
The timing was right because of the company's future plans, they said.
"We have some plans that are going to take us into another three to five years and if we didn't do this now, because of Bob's position thinking about selling in those next three to five years, he would not have been able to see those investments all the way through, and it didn't make sense," Copie said.
The company has more than 450 clients and has grown 35 percent over the past three years. Some 95 percent of clients are based in Monroe County, but the goal is to grow customers in similar markets across the country this year.
Innovative Solutions has customers in Florida, South Carolina, Indiana and California.
The goal is to be a disruptive player in the IT world, Copie said.
"Our mission is to really change IT as an industry," he said. "We really feel like the industry out there is broken. We don't feel as though people understand that technology is really a people endeavor; it's technology second."
The leadership change is natural, said Evan Tzimas, director of sales and an employee for the past nine years.
“Justin's been really a visionary and part of the strategic leadership for a while," he said. "He's a great leader, so a lot of stuff has been coming from him anyway- he's been very involved- so it's been pretty natural and really a nonevent, because people are used to him being part of the direction of the organization. I really think that people have embraced it.
"He just gets it; he understands the organization. There couldn't have been a better person to assume the role."
Copie's brother passed away unexpectedly a few years ago. The tragic loss forced Copie to see his life and his role within the company differently.
"This was a defining moment in my life in many respects because for so long in the organization I was very results focused," he said. "I really used that as an opportunity to stop trying to be things that I wanted people to think I was, and I really started to focus on the things that in my life I naturally could do and really allow people to share in them."
He plans to continue to develop as a leader.
"I always want to progress," he said. "I always want to move forward…I'm still learning and I'm always seeking more information and trying to figure out what fits (and) what doesn't." The company's leadership changes are significant but also soon to be forgotten, Copie said.
"We all are trying to grow to help customers do all the things businesses do, but at the end of the day it is really about making a significant difference so that when we're not here and our kids are here or our grandchildren are here they're moving it forward," he said. "We have this global responsibility that we all feel and (we) really do want to change the world as a company."