Company specializes in IT staffing.
Mark Rothman knows the importance of treating his workers well during difficult times. The CEO of Rockville, Md.-based Myta Corp. took the road less traveled last year, investing in training his contractors and riding out the downturn instead of letting his people go. We spoke to Rothman about the local IT services firm, and the payoffs of operating in the long term.
Tell us about MYTA Corp.
Myta provides temporary IT services. It’s similar to a classic temp agency, except that our assignments typically last months instead of days, and the personnel we provide are highly technical individuals. The type of people we would place on a client site include computer programmers, computer analysts, system administrators, testers, technical writers–anyone related to the software development life cycle.
The company was founded in 1992 out of the second bedroom of my Rockville condominium. I was working as a contractor for a firm similar to Myta when I decided that I could start a firm that provided similar services-but in a way that was better for both the clients and the contractors. I started off by finding myself a position as a contractor and then building up the company from there. After the first year, I had about four employees. After the second year I had about 12. At that point, I got out of the technical work and started selling and recruiting full time. I opened up an 800-square-foot office, hired a recruiter and an administrative assistant, and we have grown from there.
You’ve experienced record growth, reporting 15-month sales highs and an eight percent increase in employees in January. What’s enabled this success?
Like most things, success is not always what it seems. Like an actor who works in neighborhood theaters for 15 years before he is an “instant” success on Broadway, we prepared for this success for the past 12 months. While many of our competitors were cutting costs and laying off their internal employees during the last year, we were taking risks by avoiding drastic cuts. We spent that time training our people, while giving them a sense of security. Although we did not cut costs as severely as many of our competitors, and it cost us some short-term profits, when business began to pick up, we had an experienced, well-trained staff. I just think that we beat our competitors to the punch in January.
Do you have a particular business philosophy you have carried with you along the way?
Anytime you run a business, you have lots of philosophies that come out day to day. However, the one that I believe has the most long-term effect has to do with how you treat your people. The staffing industry is known for high pressure, long hours, and quick burnout. While we expect our employees to work hard, we have intentionally set up an atmosphere that is rewarding and fun, and a work environment that can be sustained. There is a difference between working 10-hour days with the occasional 12-hour day and working all 12-hour days. If you expect your employees to work 12-hour days every day, they will burn out just about at the time they get good at their jobs. Then you have to hire new people who don’t know what they are doing. I think my philosophy is better over the long term, and we have seen the benefits of that over the past year or two. And, it makes the office a much nicer place to work.
What sets Myta apart from other IT consulting firms?
The philosophy I described above goes a long way toward making us better, because our people are more experienced and happier. Besides that, I think that my experience as a contractor gives us a technical culture that is missing from most staffing firms. A sales organization that is led by a computer programmer has a much better chance of understanding and respecting the technical needs of its clients. My contracting experience also helps me understand the needs of contractors, something that may be missing from other similar firms. I know how they feel–I was once one of them.
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