When it comes to computing, Dylan Natter embraces his creative side. He has been a mobile DJ, helped with skateboard design and aided in software development. Today, he puts that creativity toward his business. Natter is the founder and chief executive officer of centrexIT, an information technology firm that attempts to improve the businesses of its San Diego-based clients.
Recently, Natter took the budget for lunch meetings and added a fully stocked deli to centrexIT’s kitchen.
“A lot of backroom meetings go on around people making sandwiches now,” said Natter. “It adds to a very family environment.”
Natter and his partner, Eric Rockwell, attended college briefly after high school; they then went straight to building their company.
“Whenever someone says you have to run a business one way, we just challenge it,” Natter said. “We don’t have to follow some corporate guidelines, we are 15 employees.”
In centrexIT’s 10 years, Natter transformed a one-man PC repair shop into a company with sustained growth. Profits have been invested directly into customer service and his support staff.
Natter said managing cash flow and growth are the toughest tasks for centrexIT, especially because of its small size. Last year it recorded $1.9 million in earnings.
“We cannot get big lines of credit with the banks,” Natter said. “We use what we produce to grow. We don’t rely on any banks or anyone.”
CentrexIT takes a cash approach to its business, according to Natter. He plans to create two jobs in the coming year.
“If each small business in San Diego can add a job or two, that’s hundreds of thousands of job opportunities,” Natter said. “Small business is what drives the economy.”
Through its “four quadrant approach” to information management, centrexIT seeks to use technological innovations to improve communication and optimize business operations for a range of firms primarily in the medical, financial, legal and biotech fields.
“The four [quadrants] are BuildIT, ManageIT, CloudIT and GrowIT,” Natter said. “Those encompass the necessary areas of technology that would help a business achieve their goals.”
CentrexIT uses an in-house research and development committee to consider the best services and products for business in San Diego. Of particular interest is the cloud, which, through shared resources, allows businesses to store information externally. This can improve efficiency and ensure continuity.
Natter said there was a lot of hype and mystery surrounding the cloud and that a strong team is crucial to properly implement cloud services. Building a successful team is his main priority.
“I believe that anyone can be successful with the right help, the right management and the right coaching,” Natter said. “I focus a lot on making sure there is a culture for having fun, enjoying what we do and being passionate about what we are doing.”
Natter works with Austin-based corporate coach Richard Eppel to help align the troops and to keep him focused as a CEO. Eppel, who flies in from Texas every month, used to live in San Diego and has experience growing companies in the high-tech field.
“He helps to make sure we are working as a team and working toward common goals,” Natter said.
In the highly commoditized technology world, Natter credits his entrepreneurial spirit for providing consistent growth to centrexIT, as well as every company that centrexIT works with.
“Getting creative about how we address issues is key when we don’t have pockets full of money,” Natter said. “We constantly have to bring all of the right pieces together in a way that is easy for our clients to use.”
Along with centrexIT, Natter is part owner Flexdex, a skateboard manufacturer. He and a partner bought the business a year and a half ago, though Natter has plans to remove himself over the next six months so he can focus more time on IT.
“We are able to have such a big impact on companies in San Diego,” Natter said. “They have a vision of growth, and we can help them achieve that. That’s just the coolest thing. We can impact a big part of the San Diego economy.”
With the company’s 10-year anniversary coming up, centrexIT plans to take as many clients as possible to a Petco Park suite for a Padres game this summer.
Natter is optimistic about 2012. He says the momentum centrexIT has generated could see it grow 30 percent.
“We get excited about solving business problems and solving technical challenges,” Natter said. “We are all passionate about the success of our clients.”