The Wiz­ards of Tech: Tech­si­co & Todd Black­burn
CL HARMON
You push a but­ton on your phone, and you’re con­nect­ed to any­one you wish to speak with. You strike a key on your com­put­er, and you have access to the entire world. You type a quick mes­sage on your cell, and a text can be sent to any­one any­where. How­ev­er, how is all of this pos­si­ble and who is this Oz behind the cur­tain that makes all of these mod­ern won­ders avail­able to us? Would you believe he is a Tul­sa native with a dry sense of humor who began with an idea in his liv­ing room?Todd Black­burn is a found­ing part­ner of Tech­si­co which began and is head­quar­tered in Tul­sa. The com­pa­ny has cur­rent­ly sev­en offices in six states with the oth­er Okla­homa office in Okla­homa City. He and his busi­ness part­ner James Lytal start­ed the com­pa­ny in Blackburn’s din­ing room after hav­ing been laid off from MCI World­Com. Both men were engi­neers for installs on the car­ri­er side for the com­pa­ny from 1996–2000. Then MCI went into bank­rupt­cy in 2000, they found them­selves with­out a pay­check. That blow actu­al­ly turned out to be a bless­ing in dis­guise. MCI still had to deploy its net­work, so it began using con­trac­tors. Already know­ing the job, the two men became con­trac­tors with its for­mer employ­er as its first client. With­in six months and com­ple­tion of its first year in busi­ness, the com­pa­ny made $50,000 in rev­enue.
FROM THE TECHSICO FACEBOOK PAGE
Liv­ing on min­i­mal salaries and remain­ing in Blackburn’s din­ing room for 18 months cou­pled with a grow­ing client list, allowed the com­pa­ny to move into its first office space in down­town Tul­sa. That space was 900-square feet. With­in two years, the com­pa­ny had out­grown that space and then opt­ed to build a 3,500-square foot build­ing with a 900-square foot ware­house. Two years lat­er, the com­pa­ny built anoth­er 4,000-square foot ware­house to keep up with their growth. Four years lat­er, the com­pa­ny had out­grown that loca­tion as well and then bought its cur­rent loca­tion at 9th & Hud­son. This was an 18,000-square foot com­plex with 8,000 of that space for office use alone. Still grow­ing, the com­pa­ny bought the adjoin­ing prop­er­ty in 2016 and added yet anoth­er 13,000-square foot to its oper­a­tion for a grand total of 11,000-square feet of office and 20,000-square feet of ware­house space in Tul­sa alone.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start­ing out with just the part­ners and one employ­ee, the com­pa­ny, also began doing work for AT&T, Wind­stream, and oth­ers tele­phone car­ri­er com­pa­nies which pro­vid­ed home and busi­ness phone lines, and busi­ness inter­net appli­ca­tions over cop­per line. The focus at this time was hard line engi­neer­ing and instal­la­tion for the sys­tems which ran from those lines such as the phone lines and data with­in busi­ness office set­tings. The com­pa­ny began rapid growth at this point.

Each year we were prac­ti­cal­ly dou­bling rev­enue. We con­tin­ued this trend for the first ten years,” Black­burn said. By 2005, the pair had already grown the com­pa­ny to eight employ­ees. With the grow­ing suc­cess, the com­pa­ny opened the new divi­sion Tech­si­co Enter­prise Solu­tions that same year. In laymen’s terms for those of us who are techie defi­cient, this divi­sion worked with the low volt­age side of tech­nol­o­gy. It tar­get­ed busi­ness­es that were in need of inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty. It worked with the car­ri­ers of inter­net providers and the busi­ness­es them­selves to bring com­pa­nies into the mod­ern age of web com­merce. This tech­nol­o­gy includ­ed fiber optics, voice and data sys­tems, wire­less access points, busi­ness secu­ri­ty, fire alarm sys­tems, audio and visu­al, set­ting up servers and net­works, trou­bleshoot­ing and remote desk­top sup­port. Three years lat­er in 2008, the com­pa­ny acquired its first com­peti­tor Pil­lar Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Fol­low­ing this, the com­pa­ny took six more com­peti­tors under its con­trol.

As tech­nol­o­gy evolved, the wiz­ards at Tech­si­co kicked off Tow­ers Unlim­it­ed in 2010. The com­pa­ny looked toward the sky and began build­ing, updat­ing and repair­ing cell phone tow­ers. Think back to the stone-age for a minute, and you may remem­ber 1G technology…oh the hor­ror! Techis­co is the com­pa­ny that con­tin­u­al­ly brings us out of those dark ages. Each update from 1G to 2G, then 3G to 4G to LTE to the lat­est 5G tech­nol­o­gy hap­pens through the efforts of those behind the cur­tain. Although the tow­er remains viable, the oth­er com­po­nents such as radios and anten­nas must be changed to accept the new tech­nol­o­gy. With this new feath­er in the com­pa­ny cap, the part­ners’ suc­cess kept gain­ing momen­tum and grow­ing along­side the tech­nol­o­gy it pro­vid­ed.

One of the rea­sons we have been suc­cess­ful is we’re big on if we say we will do it, we will do it. And if we miss some­thing, we don’t go back after the cus­tomer with change orders,” Black­burn said. He added that they offer top tal­ent and don’t “nick­el and dime” the cus­tomer. Also, they meet their com­mit­ments, which dri­ves good reten­tion, he said.

One of the oth­er things I believe attrib­ut­es to our suc­cess is that nei­ther one of us own­ers take out of the com­pa­ny. We pay our­selves a salary and leave the prof­its to rein­vest in the com­pa­ny con­tin­u­ing to build it. We have left the major­i­ty of the prof­its in the com­pa­ny,” Black­burn explained.

As for prof­its and what that means to Okla­homa, the enter­prise divi­sion alone gen­er­ates $10 mil­lion per year. With this and the peo­ple employed, it brings a lot of pos­i­tive to the state. The oth­er divi­sions locat­ed in oth­er states pro­duce an addi­tion­al $15 mil­lion. For the Oz behind the cur­tain who dropped out of col­lege to become a ‘learn on the job’ engi­neer, this is tru­ly a dream come true.

It takes heart, courage, and brains to build a suc­cess­ful dream. Black­burn and Lytal did this…and they were already home when they began their jour­ney down the yel­low brick road and over the rain­bow to suc­cess.

Adver­tise­ments

To be hon­est, every time we would move to a new build­ing, in my head I thought, this will last us a long time, and we will be able to grow. Even with the first 900 square foot build­ing, I thought oh we have room for four or five employ­ees, and this space is going to take us five years in the future. It didn’t. It last­ed one or two years. Each year I say well we’re prob­a­bly as big as we are going to get and two years down the road were grow­ing even larg­er. It nev­er ceas­es to amaze me,” Black­burn said. Fol­low­ing his busi­ness suc­cess in Okla­homa, Black­burn has recent­ly decid­ed to bring his skills and insight into pol­i­tics. He has recent­ly thrown his hat into the polit­i­cal ring by run­ning for Dis­trict 77 in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

As the Wiz­ard of Oz said, “Pay no atten­tion to the man behind the cur­tain.” Most of us prob­a­bly don’t pay atten­tion to what is going on behind the cur­tain. We sim­ply push a but­ton, strike a key or type a text and mag­i­cal things hap­pen that con­nects us to one anoth­er and our world. Per­haps, just this once though, we rec­og­nize the great wiz­ards behind the cur­tain who keep us all on our very own yel­low brick road to suc­cess.

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