By name alone, Star2Star Communications connects businesses to other businesses and customers via the Internet.
But to co-founder and CEO Norm Worthington, the firm is a software development company that just happens to occupy the communications industry. In fact, says Worthington, 20% of Manatee County-based Star2Star's payroll is in development and innovation. And that's just where Worthington, founder of more than a dozen companies, wants it.
“I think the whole business telecommunications industry is about to go into a massive shift,” says Worthington. “It will catch a lot of the industry by surprise. We want to have a big role in redefining business communication.”
Worthington's vehicle to do that is Star2Star. Worthington and fellow technology entrepreneur Joe Rhem launched the business in the latter's garage in 2006. The idea was to create a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system that could provide businesses everything from hardware and software to setup and support.
The company has since grown fast. In 2011, for example, it had $18.2 million in sales and 100 employees. Revenues are up 379% since 2009, and Star2Star has been profitable since the third quarter of that year, Worthington says.
The firm's success stems from Blended Architecture, its trademarked, proprietary and patent-pending system. Blended Architecture combines several elements of VoIP to provide clients a customized offering. The client list includes Dollar General, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Texas-based Pizza Hut franchisee.
Worthington's big-picture goals revolve around continuing to foster Star2Star's fast, yet manageable, growth environment. The firm recently closed on a line of credit with a Silicon Valley bank, for instance, which Worthington says will allow it to do more financing with customers and improve margins.
Another recent advancement is in human resources, where the company hired its first ever person solely dedicated to recruiting employees. The company also recently started to improve its internal infrastructure. “What we had worked well,” says Worthington, “but we could see that we needed to rebuild it in order to keep growing the way we want to.”