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They Bought the Company

"Mel Steinke"

"There is tremendous opportunity in Canada. The kind of opportunity that presented itself to us is out there in business today. The first thing that a person must do is identify the opportunity. Keep your eyes open. Look for opportunity. When you see it, decide whether or not you as an individual can believe in it and can establish your own personal belief in the achievement. If you can attain that belief, you can do it. There is no limitation whatsoever to your ability to be successful in business in Canada. If you have a good business strategy and believe in yourself. .. you can do it."

That's what Mel Steinke told me while we were discussing his own amazing career and the successful acquisition by him and fellow employees of the company they worked for.

First let me tell you a bit about 37 year old Mel. He was born and raised in the small northern Ontario town of Massey. His high school teacher, a real computer enthusiast, introduced Mel to computers and Mel was hooked. At 16 years of age, he formed a small company to provide computer services to the provincial government. He moved to Toronto and got a job at Datacrown which eventually became Polaris Consulting Services. He quickly rose up the management ladder.

In 1987 Mel learned that Polaris was being sold. He quickly gathered his fellow managers together and they decided they would buy Polaris. But talk is cheap. Polaris was a big company. The asking price was around 5 million dollars. It meant they would really have to go to the well to get financing. Which they did. And were successful in their bid. How did they feel going through it? "There is no question that throughout this exercise we experienced virtually every emotion that is known to human kind. The first feeling you have when you know that the company you've been building is up for sale is that of disappointment. And second to that is uncertainty. What is going to happen? The third set of emotions that came into play were that of. .. can we potentially do this? And then an element of optimism and enthusiasm that said . .. yes we can. We can take on this organization and make it even more successful! From that point on it was a roller coaster ride of emotions. The excitement and the potential of owning your own business. The anxiety of being out on your own without a large organization supporting you. And the realization that you have your own large personal stake at risk in doing it. "

Well, not only did they do it, they turned an already successful company into a phenomenally successful company. Revenue increased in two years from 10 million dollars to 25 million dollars.

Last summer (1990) the partners accepted an offer and sold Polaris to the

giant accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche, one of the world's largest accounting and management consulting companies.

"We have maintained Polaris as a separate company with the opportunity to build and become one of the largest computer services companies in Canada."

Ask Mel what the secret is to success and he'll tell you ... "The first step in taking on any challenge is to create a vision, a dream. The second step is to get your dream shared by others."

Mel is quick to point out that the success of Polaris, and the success of any project is based on having a strong management team. "Surround yourself with good people."

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