Heather Blease: SaviLinx CEO, Four-Time Inc. 5000 Honoree
Working in the contact center industry for more than 25 years, Heather Blease shares her advice and success story in building a business devoted to helping others.
Heather Blease is a graduate of an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Maine and has more than 25 years of experience in the contact center industry.
In 1995, Blease built her first company, EnvisioNet, an outsource tech support provider serving clients such as Dell and Microsoft. However, because of having no return on investment, she had to close down the company.
Then, in 2013, she again built a new company named SaviLinx which is a contact center business process outsourcing firm that provides technical and customer support both on the federal and commercial marketplace.
Currently, SaviLinx continues growing out of its areas in Maine and Mississippi. It was also awarded the Growth Master Award from the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce and recognized as one of Brunswick Landing’s Top Innovators of 2016 and one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by the Inc. magazine.
ENVISIONET, SAVI SYSTEMS, AND SAVILINX
Before building her company, Heather Blease first worked for the Digital Equipment Corporation for 10 years after graduating from college. However, when it was put on sale, Heather built her first company, EnvisioNet.
During this time, Blease still didn’t know what she’s getting into: she didn’t have enough money, she had three young kids, and building it was risky. Still, she sold their house, movies to a second floor apartment, and started the company.
“It was in both cases, you know, either you, you know, either it works or it’s going to hurt.”
The company then grew from her and two other employees to a company with 2,500 people. They also had six or seven rounds of venture capital and was working with huge clients including Dell and Microsoft.
However, because of a client who signed their company to big contracts but withdrew thereafter, she needed to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“We ended up kind of holding the bag and we’re not financially strong enough to weather the storm. So anyway, to wrap it up. And, we ended up having, we sold the company and it was operating, you know, an operating entity, but it was definitely a learning experience for me.”
Afterwards, she built Savi Systems in 2008 which stands for Superior Audio Video Integration. Unfortunately, the company didn’t last long and she ended up merging it to another company.
However, this is when it dawns on her that there is a potential in doing business with the government.
“I couldn’t get that idea out of my head that there’s a business here and, you know, federal contracts, you know, it’d be new. It was new to me. I had no idea what that even meant but it seemed like those programs are set up for a reason.”
This was when she created SaviLink, a contact center business process outsourcing company. She used all of the things that she learned from her previous companies from getting funds to getting the best people. She also made sure that the company is HUBZone certified as she aimed to work at the base in Brunswick, Maine.
“I convinced myself that I had to try. ‘Cause I wouldn’t, I would not be able to forgive myself for not trying.”
SaviLinx mainly provides multichannel contact services on both the commercial and federal arena. This includes helping with emails, case works, unemployment phone calls, their client’s tax returns, and more.
“We were able to hire several hundred people in a really short time period. And, you know, we’ve been able to manage them very well and deploy them at home.”
In addition to making sure that they provide the necessary services their clients’ needs, Blease also ensures that their employees have the necessary training fit for the job.
“Part of our core business is understanding our client’s business and accessing tools so that we can provide guidance and either technical support or customer service answers to their, do their customers who are inquiring to us by a phone call or email or however. That’s key.”
ADVICE FOR OTHER BUSINESSES
1. Believe in yourself.
When Heather Blease started EnvisioNet, she didn’t have much belief in herself. She ended up agreeing to what her venture capitalist said that she should hire somebody else to run the company which she considered as the worst decision ever.
“As the owner or, you know, as a CEO, as the founder, you know, the decision comes back to one that you’ve got to be comfortable with. And I think listening, you know, having the confidence to listen to myself and my own instincts was lacking back when I was 30. Not so much this time.”
2. Have a vision for your company.
Blease learned in the book, “Traction” by Gino Wickman, that you should be consistent with your goal setting as it helps you become more motivated to do things towards success.
“You know, what’s the annual goal? And then, what am I going to try to get done? What are we trying to get done as a company in the next quarter? And then, you know, the setting, the routine of reporting back, achieving those goals, and having the alignment in the company. It has made a huge difference.”
3. Take care of your mental wellbeing.
As business owners, you are mostly on the clock but you should also consider getting enough sleep, eating well, getting exercise, and doing other activities that make you relaxed.
“The number one most important thing for you to do as the leader of your company is for you to keep healthy and to have your clear mind and, you know, have a, you know, being able to maintain a positive attitude.”
If you want to watch the full video of the interview with Heather Blease as she shares her advice and success story in building a business devoted to helping others, then be sure to click the links below:
065: Heather Blease -SaviLinx, CEO – Four-Time Inc. 5000 Honoree Builds Company Devoted to Helping People
Four-Time Inc 5000 Honoree Tells her story!