Fayetteville's CapSpire Targets Pricing Risks, Aims for Efficiency

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, May. 13, 2013 12:00 am  

Jeff Hardcastle is co-founder of Fayetteville firm capSpire, which works to lessen risks associated with commodities pricing. (Photo by Ryan Miller)

A ping-pong table is likely the first thing a visitor to capSpire’s Fayetteville headquarters will notice. It is regulation sized — 9 feet long, 5 feet wide — and occupies a good portion of the entryway, making it hard to miss.

Inside the company meeting room, a Legos replica of “Star Wars” character R2-D2 serves as a conference table centerpiece. Wearing jeans, while not mandated by company dress code, is clearly the preference for capSpire employees.

It is a unique working environment. And it serves as an example of the “find a better way” philosophy that has guided capSpire in the four years since Jeff Hardcastle and Mike Scharf founded the firm, which does commodities risk management consulting and software development.

An office doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive to be productive. There’s a better way to work. Likewise, they figure a company doesn’t have to accept losing money on commodity pricing simply because it’s the cost of doing business.

What capSpire aims to do through consulting, and in some cases through its own software development, is identify how to minimize the risk and overspending affecting companies that depend on commodities. Simply put, capSpire helps its clients figure out “a better way.”

“Our customers are always working to improve their business processes around the commodity markets, and we engage with them to streamline those inefficiencies,” Hardcastle said. “We have the experience and knowledge to assist organizations in solving complex problems. The core of our DNA is the concept of always challenging the status quo and working with our customers to bring innovative solutions to the market.”

A willingness to buck the norm is why Hardcastle hardly bats an eye if a ping-pong match breaks out during the workday. It’s the same attitude that led him and Scharf, both industrial engineering majors, to leave established jobs in 2009 and form capSpire, a company that now has 31 employees divided among offices in four states. And it’s why the company continues to look for risk-management consulting opportunities outside of energy companies.

Initially, capSpire was formed to operate in the energy industry. Much of the firm’s business is still in that area, which is why Tulsa and Houston now have offices. Both cities are hubs for energy companies and a natural fit for a company that specializes in consulting on matters of crude oil, natural gas, refined products, natural gas liquids, coal, iron ore, agriculture and freight.

Now the company is turning its attention to consumer packaged goods companies and the auto industry.

A breakdown of employees includes 12 in Arkansas and 10 in Oklahoma with seven more in Texas and one in Michigan. An additional four hires are joining the firm in June and two start later this month.

Within three years the company plans to add 30 jobs in Oklahoma as part of that state’s 21st Century Quality Jobs Program. According to a report in the Tulsa World, the program could generate about $4.7 million in payroll tax rebates for capSpire.

By mastering the commodities risk management software used by energy companies, capSpire found a consulting niche. That opened up doors into other areas of consulting and eventually led to the development of Gravitate, software aimed at streamlining communication between wholesale commodity marketers and their clients.



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