Brian and Lisa Johnson were frustrated.
On the outside, the couple, who married in 1997, seemed to have everything going for them.
In just ten years, Brian, who holds a degree in computer engineering from Purdue University, had climbed the ladder at an international tech company serving clients around the world implementing and executing multi-million-dollar IT projects and solutions.
Lisa had found her super-power too. Also working for a large international tech company, she performed project management, implementation, and business process improvement for large companies.
But their work left them feeling deflated and empty.
“I was managing some fairly large technology design teams,” Brian said. “I’d pour my heart and energy into large multi-million-dollar projects. These were big deals. But then business direction would change, or the client would decide not to implement. It was frustrating.”
Both Lisa and Brian wanted more control. Even more important, they wanted to do meaningful work that made a difference.
“We saw the challenges libraries faced, and we’d proved we could move the needle in a large company, where it’s very difficult to do,” Brian said. “So, we thought, imagine what we could do for a small organization? We knew we could make an even bigger difference for them if we made that the focus in our own business.”
This contemplation returned Lisa to where it all started for her—the place she first worked in IT. In the 1980s, when Lisa was in high school, she cleaned computers, ran cables, and built computers at AVC Technology Corporation, a company founded by her father, Brent Enderle.
AVC opened its doors on July 1, 1971, specializing in the technology of the day which included overhead projectors, -and tape players. The company transitioned into computers in the eighties when companies began purchasing computers for their business. A mechanical engineer, Brent enjoyed technology and saw this as an exciting opportunity.
“Businesses didn’t know what to do with computers,” Lisa said. “So, my dad started helping businesses and libraries utilize technology better.” AVC grew into one of the largest regional Commodore dealers, becoming well known in Indianapolis. AVC quickly evolved into services and software around those computers, introducing AVC Managed Services in the 80s and AVC Custom Software in the ‘90s.
When Lisa and Brian were looking to make a move from corporate America to entrepreneurship, her father was looking for a transition plan so he could retire.
In 2002, they quit their corporate jobs, took a leap of faith, and joined AVC. Moving into ownership a few years later, their vision is providing technology solutions that are helping libraries improve their capabilities and break new ground. Experiencing significant year over year growth, the company has grown 400% since they stepped into ownership. Today, just one year shy of celebrating 50 years in business, AVC is a leading provider for software and technology services for public libraries in the Midwest. They are also the largest fund accounting and payroll software provider in the state of Indiana.
Adaptability to Change Creates Tremendous Opportunity For Public Libraries
For a tech company to be in business for 50 years is remarkable. Technology changes rapidly. This brings tremendous opportunity to those who adapt, but it also drives companies to extinction that fail to adapt.
AVC demonstrates their continued forward-thinking and innovative approach, which, in turn, provides opportunities for their public library clients to stay relevant as they face ever-increasing demands, changes and budget constraints.
In the 80s, AVC sensed there could be a different business model for libraries other than the traditional “break-fix” approach well before other IT providers.“Everybody else was doing break-fix, but we came up with managed services,” Lisa said. “We realized then that the libraries we served needed predictable costs. We’ve had all-inclusive since then. I remember cleaning computers as part of our managed services when I was in high school.”
An industry leader in forming the principles of managed services and how they work, the plans devised by AVC in the ‘80s have become a common practice in IT companies today.
In the 90s, AVC began looking at ways to help libraries streamline their business using technology. “My dad wrote a piece of accounting software in the nineties,” Lisa said. “While it’s changed and been updated over the years, we’ve got that software in over half the public libraries in Indiana.”
Today, AVC continues to excel at adaptability. Helping libraries in their selection of the right set of software, tools, and processes, they provide innovative solutions that solve libraries’ problems, streamline their organizations, improve efficiency, and help them survive in rapidly changing times.
“Technology is always changing,” Brian said. There’s always new, better, potentially cheaper or more efficient ways to do things. You must change with it to get the full value out of technology so you can prevail.”
For example, one of the transitional technologies AVC offers which are saving their clients a lot of money and from headaches right now are cloud services. “We do everything we can to do things at the right time, in the right order with the right budgets to fit their needs,” Brian said.
Why Libraries Have Trusted AVC For 40+ years
AVC began working with public libraries forty years ago. While what they do for libraries has changed over the years, they continue to be the premier provider in the space today.
“We have library customers that we put their first computer in, and we still put all their technology in,” Lisa said. “We like working with libraries. They provide a critical role in the community that we like to help service.”
AVC tenure in the space has created unique expertise that IT companies who only service businesses do not understand. “A patron computer is different from somebody’s own computer and different from an employee’s computer too,” Lisa explained. “You get random people sitting down at a patron computer doing random things. Over the years, we’ve built our bank of knowledge to know what libraries need to watch out for… And we also have a good handle on how to utilize technology to enhance library services to keep the library modern and relevant.”
AVC offers customizable plans for the smallest libraries all the way up to the largest ones. “We work with directors who enjoy the planning and implementation of technology,” Lisa said. “These forward-looking directors have visions of implementing technology that helps their patrons, so we customize our plans to help them achieve their goals.”
Providing Smart Solutions Normally Reserved For Large Companies
One of the critical differences AVC offers is that they bring large scale IT solutions not traditionally available to libraries. Leveraging their experience working with large companies, they are providing solutions which increase the impact and deliver better protection while reducing the cost of operations. “A lot of libraries will have one IT person, and no backup,” Brian said. “That one guy is trying to do it all, whereas we have a team of experts that do this all day, every day. We can protect them from costly cyberattacks, effectively meet their unique business needs, foster engagement with their communities, and strengthen strategic positions.”
On Track To Become A Key IT Provider For Libraries Nationwide
“When we left our big corporate jobs, we wanted to bring business process improvement, technology, planning, and services used in large companies to libraries where we could make a real difference,” Lisa said.
“Now we want to expand to become a recognized national provider for public libraries,” Brian added.
As a company whose work brought the power of computing to libraries, innovative solutions and cutting-edge software to help them utilize the best technology while remaining inside their budgets, and who continues to be forward-thinking and adaptable, they’ve laid the foundation to achieve this. There is no doubt that AVC will continue to lead the field in IT for libraries in the Midwest and beyond.