ESP In the News

Bob Hildreth named Business Builder of the Year Finalist by Upsize Magazine

Bob Hildreth is the finalist for Best 2012 BBA logoPractices in People and Workplace due to ESP’s placing people first mentality and four principles for creating a successful team.  [Click to Read Full Article]. The Upsize Business Builder of the Year is an annual contest designed to recognize Minnesota entrepreneurs for driving smart, sustainable growth.

Excerpts from Upsize Magazine Dec.2012/Jan.2013 Issue


“But what if I have a great idea?” asked Bob Hildreth’s young son years ago, told to be quiet when tagging along on a business meeting–and the CEO of ESP Systems Professionals started listening.

“Our mission is to always place people first,” says Bob Hildreth, CEO of ESP Systems Professionals, an IT staffing company in Minneapolis that has nearly doubled its revenue in each of the past three years, to $5.35 million last year, and wants to do it again by 2015…

The foundation of the company will remain its people, he vows, and he crisply details four principles that he believes make for business success.

No. 1, Hire the best.

And he’ll interview candidates four or five times, sometimes stretching the process for months and involving all staff members, to really get to know someone.  “I always ask, Can you picture being here for years?” Hildreth says, and if the answer is no he keeps the discussion going to find out why.

No. 2, Set mutual expectations.

“Most set expectations of the employee. I think we’re good at finding out their expectations for us,” Hildreth says. The process continues after the hire, too, during quarterly reviews in which he briefly shares the numbers and then asks the same set of questions each time. “I ask more intimate things: How can I improve? What’s the best part of your job?” he says. “It’s amazing what you can find out.”

No. 3, Give employees the tools to succeed.

“I spend more than others” in the IT consulting business, he says, outfitting his team with laptops years ago before everyone did that, going “to the cloud” for data hosting long before it became the rage, always spending money on apps.” Each week one person in the company trains the rest on their topic of choice.  His topic each year is trust, which he’s researched intently. “The one thing that can undermine trust is duplicity, otherwise known as gossip,” he says. “So we talk about it.”

No. 4 “is my favorite,” Hildreth says: Get out of the way.

A simple example, he says, is they don’t track PTO or paid time off. “We trust people will take the time off they have coming to them.”… He relates the tale of his young son years ago, told to be quiet when tagging along with Dad on a business meeting. “What happens if I have a good idea?” his son said. “Everybody in the company, no matter what department, just like my son—if anyone has a good idea, I want to hear it,” Hildreth says.

by Beth Ewen Read more.

Bob Hildreth was one of three finalists for the Upsize Business Builder of the Year Award.  Congratulations to the winner, Craig Kruckeberg, CEO of Minimizer, and fellow finalist Melanie Nelson, CEO of Learning ZoneXpress. Thank you Upsize for recognizing Bob and ESP with this honor!