City: Little Rock
Category: Business Executive of the Year
Barry Simon’s business odyssey started in Carbondale, Ill.
He graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in marketing and business administration. From there he moved into the office supplies and printing business, working for an operation in St. Louis.
Simon eventually sold that business and moved to Arkansas in 1985 to buy the company that would become Datamax Micro.
“At that time we were into selling copiers, fax machines and electric typewriters, printing presses,” Simon said. His job was to turn around a company that, he learned, didn’t have the best reputation.
Datamax now has 85 employees in Arkansas.
Simon said he helped turn around Datamax by building communication with employees and clients. He tries to sell his employees on his own product so they can sell it themselves, he said. “If our salespeople and all of our employees are raving fans, they will make the customers raving fans,” he said.
Both employees and customers, he said, should feel at home with Datamax.
“It should be gut-wrenching for customers or employees to want to leave,” he said. “It shouldn’t be an easy decision. If we’re not doing that, we’re not making the environment good in our company.”
The company’s product line has evolved to mostly multifunctional copiers and printers.
In 2000, Simon said, Datamax bought an operation called Microcomputer Technology to help manage networks. “We do that on-site,” he said. “We do document imaging, content management, disaster recovery, virtual solutions.”
The company’s biggest strength is its far-spanning vision, Simon said. “We as a company have a great planning process, planning and goal-setting for a long time ahead,” he said.