When Jay Cartisano landed his first job out of college as a copy and fax machine salesman, he had a one-year plan. The 1989 Ohio University graduate wasn't sure if sales was something he really wanted to do for a career.
Twenty-seven years later, Cartisano is still with the same company — Connecticut Business Systems — only now, he runs the place as company president since 2012.
It looks like that business-management degree is paying off. Cartisano's experience in sales was invaluable as he evolved into a company leader, with more responsibilities.
"You learn to be incredibly organized,'' said Cartisano, who'll turn 50 in January. "You learn to communicate effectively, which I think is really, really important. You also have to demonstrate hard work. In our business, no one comes to your door. You have to go out and generate new business."
As Cartisano's career evolved — sales manager, vice president of sales, senior vice president of sales — so too has CBS' services.
The company's forte is now document management, workflow solutions and office technology. It still sells copy machines, faxes, software and maintenance contracts. In short, the company assesses the technology capabilities, business processes and information flow of an organization, then — in collaboration with the client — devises a strategy to make the operations more productive and less costly. Customers include large and small businesses, higher-education organizations and nonprofits.
"I love the business; I'm very passionate about it,'' said Cartisano. "I think there is a demand for what we do. Organizations will invest in technologies and services if it will make their businesses run better — and provide a savings at the same time. We've been able to do that."
Cartisano says revenues increased 10 percent annually in recent years; with a yearly budget of about $90 million. The document management/workflow solution portion of the business is up about 30 percent. He credits the company's growth to a culture of high expectations and intensified focus on professional development for the 300 employees. As they acquire more skills, confidence and expertise, the company, Cartisano says, grows accordingly.
"We created an environment where we have people who are incredibly hard working, and passionate about what they do,'' said Cartisano, sitting in a meeting room at the company's Great Meadow Road headquarters in Wethersfield. "We created an atmosphere here that promotes success and fun. … People need to see there is opportunity. Or, they'll go elsewhere.''
He describes his management style as direct and engaged. A former three-sport high school athlete in Mahopac, N.Y. — basketball, baseball and football — Cartisano concedes he is "very competitive" and "very involved and very engaged in all functions of the business. My ability to effectively communicate has gotten better; and to take ideas from my people, think them through — and delegate them effectively."
CBS, founded in 1986 by Michael Shea, is celebrating its 30th year. It started with two offices. Today there are nine locations, four in Connecticut (including a 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Newington); three in Massachusetts; and one each in Lincoln, R.I. and White Plains, N.Y.
In 1998, CBS was purchased by Global Imaging Systems. Xerox purchased Global in 2007, but Global runs independently inside of Xerox. That autonomy is another reason that the company — re-branded as Connecticut Business Systems, A Xerox Company — has thrived over the past several years, Cartisano said.
He estimates there are about 5,000 customers and 60,000 pieces of equipment supported by his organization.
Every quarter, senior leaders from Global Imaging Systems' 38 companies meet to discuss best practices and provide insight as to what has been profitable at their respective shops. CBS salespeople also meet quarterly with their customers to make sure everything is running smoothly. It can take years to secure a prospective client. So, maintaining existing clients is a high priority.
In his spare time, Cartisano enjoys spending time with his wife, Faith, and three children; cooking; golf; and reading books about leadership. A particular favorite is "Lincoln on Leadership," by Donald T. Phillips.
He awakes daily at 5 a.m. in his home in upstate New York and drives 1.5 hours thrice weekly to Wethersfield. The other two days are spent in the White Plains and Norwalk offices.
In regards to expansion, Cartisano said his company is focused on internal and professional growth, and maintaining its profile with local charitable organizations, such as Easter Seals.
Translation: He's still taking it one year at a time.
Stan Simpson is the principal of Stan Simpson Enterprises LLC, a strategic communications consulting firm. He is also host of "The Stan Simpson Show," which airs Saturday, 5:30 a.m., on Fox 61 — and online at Fox61.com/stan.