The Advancing Leadership Blog

Built to Last vs Built to Sell

By guest blogger, Jeremy Miller, President of Sticky Branding

TEC Canada is comprised of the most influential leaders and entrepreneurs from high-performing organizations across the country. These Members have compelling stories to tell about building brands that stick and creating messages that resonate. TEC has partnered with Sticky Branding to bring you these stories about the successful brands of our Members, like TEC Member and President of ProVision IT, Bob Spiers.

Your founding vision will have a great deal of impact on your future brand. Are you building a business that will grow through the generations, or are you building a business to sell? There’s no right or wrong answer, but your approach will shape the kind of brand you can grow.

ProVision IT is a brand that is built to last. Bob Spiers, CEO of ProVision explains, “Before we even launched, I had a goal to build a ‘self-sustaining enterprise.’ That was the phrase that really resonated with me. And what that meant was to have the structure, a lasting value, and the processes, culture and understanding of how to operate the right way so the business would self-propel — so it would be self-sustaining.”

Bob’s founding vision has helped shape all aspects of ProVision IT: their culture, their investment in talent and systems, their client relationships, their approach to sales and marketing, and how they develop their strategy. And Bob’s vision reflects through ProVision’s brand.

Since 2002 ProVision IT has grown into one of the predominant IT staffing firms in Ontario, and they possess a reputation of accountability and trust. They work with large institutions and corporations with complex IT requirements, and they provide contract and full time IT resources to supplement or augment their clients’ staffing demands.

A commitment to quality

Growing a brand that is built to last is a choice. Sometimes you will sacrifice short term gains to do the right thing, and sometimes you may not grow as quickly as other firms in your space. But a self-sustaining brand demonstrates quality and credibility.

Companies in the IT staffing sector can experience explosive growth early on, but tarnish their brands without a clear commitment to operational excellence. The built to sell approach can allow systems or capabilities to go underdeveloped, because they don’t support the end goal. Growth is prioritized over structural capabilities.

Sticky brands are built upon operational excellence. Marketing hype scratches off quickly. It might get you in the door, but if you can’t deliver consistently you’re not going to stay around for long.

Bob continues, “I believe more-and-more that our clients are looking for certainty of delivery. Which speaks to a need for a systematic approach, structured processes, technology enabled to deliver a consistent response, and trust.” It’s a matter of trust. Any firm can deliver a one-off service, but sticky brands are grown by consistently achieving and exceeding your clients’ expectations.

The Family Dinner Analogy

The word “trust” came up again-and-again in my interview with Bob Spiers. Bob strongly believes a brand, and a business, is enhanced with trust.

Growing a business that is built to last starts from the inside out. It’s the little things you do internally and operationally that enhance the business. It’s how you work with your colleagues, and support each other.

Bob explains, “I have used the analogy of the family, and the image of sitting down together for Sunday dinner. And that is to say, can you see yourself with your colleagues sitting down to Sunday dinner? Can you see yourself sharing with them your concerns? Can you see yourself complimenting them, like freely complimenting them? Can you see yourself advocating for them? Are you that connected, or that disconnected?”

A firm’s culture is an integral part of its brand. Clients can’t help but notice a supplier’s employee who truly loves her job and the work she does. That passion and commitment is infectious, and reinforces the brand’s position in the client’s mind. It builds trust.

Companies that are built to last invest in all aspects of their business. They invest in their people and systems as much as they invest in their clients. They are growing an organization that has the strength to grow beyond its founders.

Good words to remember

Bob Spiers’ approach to building a self-sustaining brand reminded me of a quote by Steve Jobs,

“I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That’s how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before. You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now.”

Growing a brand that is built to last is the hardest work of all. There are no shortcuts, and often you have to make sacrifices for the future good. But the pursuit is valuable. A brand that is built to last will rise above its competitors, and create lasting value for its shareholders.


About ProVision IT
President of ProVision IT, Bob Spiers, is a TEC Canada CEO Member. Provision IT Resources is a mid-sized Information Technology staffing company that was founded in 2002. Their services include IT full-time recruitment and contract staffing, and they service clients throughout the province of Ontario. ProVision IT is a tier-1 vendor with some of Canada’s largest companies, as well as Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments. Their quality and delivery capacity has positioned them as a preferred supplier with several Canadian banks, and their service levels are closely monitored for Vendor Management program compliance. ProVision IT manages a structured process to identify talent and maintain recruitment levels while leveraging a sourcing model to provide pipeline support and maintain consistency in their service delivery.
Founded: 2002
Industry: Professional Services
Employees: 10-25


Jeremy - Sticky BrandingJeremy Miller is the President of Sticky Branding – a strategic brand consultancy that helps companies stand out, attract customers and grow sticky brands. Jeremy publishes a weekly column called Sticky Branding Stories, where he shares examples of how mid-market companies are growing sticky brands.

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