Cedric E. Nash, 35, began his career in the high-tech world as a systems applications and products in data processing consultant for Ernst & Young in Los Angeles, configuring software systems to support and automate the business processes of medium and large businesses. He noticed that when the company needed to hire or contract out work, getting the right person at the right time was a big problem.
Nash left Ernst & Young in 1995 to become one of four partners of Consulting and Resource Distribution (CARD), an international technology consulting start-up venture headquartered in Wiesloch, Germany with an office in San Mateo, California. He noticed CARD also had problems finding qualified consultants. The reason? The industry was growing faster than the labor pool could supply. Clearly, there was money to be made if he could match workers with companies.
Using the $87,000 he received as a quarterly partner bonus and a six-month buyout when he left CARD, Nash launched Oakland Consulting Group (OCG) based in Oakland, California, in July 1997, which places consultants such as system and network administrators and enterprise resource planning consultants.
In August 1997, OCG landed its first client, Lucent Technologies’ power division in Plano, Texas. Today, OCG has a staff of 11 employees and contractors nationwide.
By networking with former co-workers, clients and business associates, Nash was able to leverage the relationships he had formed over the years into direct business for his business venture. OCG now counts Panasonic, Deloitte & Touche and Citigroup among its clients. In 1998, revenues were $3.6 million, with projected revenues of over $5 million for 1999.
Nash sees his three-pronged strategy as the key to his rapid success: partnering with a small, select group of clients allows OCG to establish a good business relationship and better serve accounts; finding consultants who have skills and training, as well as detailed experience; making the right match with consultants and clients.
“I’m usually able to provide clients with reliable, experienced and competent consultants at a lower price because we don’t have the overhead costs of big companies,” says Nash. Still some of the company’s work is subcontracted from bigger companies who turn to OCG when they can’t fill a position. The industry’s rapid growth means labor is tight. Nash uses good benefits, above-average pay and a relaxed work environment to lure employees and contractors, which gives his company an edge on the competition.