When a CEO Realizes They Can’t Do it Alone
Meet Mike Rydin
Founder & CEO | HCSS, computer software for construction industry
Region: Sugarland, TX (suburb of Houston)
Industry: Computer Systems Design & Related Services
In 1986, with no business education “or ever having read a business book,” Mike Rydin founded a software company for the construction industry out of his bedroom in Sugarland, Texas. Total revenue for that first year was $8,000.
After 10 years of running HCSS, Rydin had built the company to a dozen employees and $1 million in revenue. But found himself stymied — with every staff member coming to him for everything all of the time. “I was up to my eyeballs, constantly working out the day-to-day problems of the business,” he says. It was at that point in 1996, he knew he had to get out of the weeds and start delegating in order to scale.
At that point, Rydin joined Vistage. From then on, he says, he was immersed in business information, books and ideas from speakers across the country.
“I was getting thoughts from everywhere on how to run a business, which gave me an amazing amount of knowledge to apply to any problem that arose. I was also getting a lot of help from my Chairs — I’ve had three since I became a member 25 years ago — and from my fellow Vistage members. I’ve learned from everyone. It turns out most of us have the same kinds of problems.”
It became increasingly clear to Rydin that if he was going to take HCSS further, he had to learn to delegate. “To do that,” he says, “I needed to build up the people around me.”
Because of the value he found in his own Vistage experience, Rydin put three of his executives in Vistage Key Executive Program, created for C-level executives to support the CEO’s strategy and drive better results for the company. More recently, he signed up 24 employees in the two-year Emerging Leader Program, which prepares a company’s rising stars to be the next generation of senior leadership.
“At this stage I’m trying to develop them as leaders, and I was thrilled that Vistage had a program for that — and that I didn’t have to figure out how to do it on my own. We’ve also used several Vistage speakers as consultants — some on a pretty large scale, months-long assignments.”
Today, with 400 full-time employees and about 4,000 contractors across North America, many of whom are heavy highway infrastructure professionals, HCSS plays a critical role in helping to build the backbone of this country. Occupying a huge campus in Sugarland with three buildings, the company surpassed $100 million in annual revenue in 2020 and continues to grow, expand and thrive.
“The fact that during the first 10 years we went from $10,000 to $1 million— and in the next 15 or 20 years we went from $1 million to $100 million — I’m absolutely certain that we couldn’t have done all the clever things we did, or have grown to that size, without Vistage,” says Rydin.
Only Vistage offers the full suite of programs to develop all leaders in their leadership journey. Every team member gets a consistent approach to training and development, creating a unified experience for your organization. When leaders approach problem-solving in a similar fashion and share a common language, you can expect better execution and better results.