Where do former whiz kids end up? Some create killer social media networks or found iconic computer companies such as Apple. Others, including Wilton Damas, simply find themselves opening doors for customers by combining technological expertise and people skills. Here, the COO and VP of operations for Open Door Technology Inc. talks about finding solutions for his company’s long list of clients and putting together the right staff to do the job.
Advantage: Tell me about Open Door Technology.
Wilton Damas: Open Door Technology is a gold-certified Microsoft ERP partner and a multiple winner of Microsoft’s President’s Club award. We provide integrated software solutions for accounting and operations for a variety of industries, mainly equipment rental, wholesale distribution, job shops, oil field service, and not-for-profit customers, mostly in the US and Canada. First, we try to understand their needs and configure the system to best meet their requirements. Our success has led to Open Door having one of the largest Dynamics ERP customer bases in North America.
Sounds like something that would require a bit of a commitment on behalf of the customer. Do you have lots of long-term clients?
We do. Some have been with us a really long time. We provide many services. We offer development, support, and training for the financial clients. For their sales and marketing departments, we offer customized CRMs and mobility solutions.
How long have you been in business?
Since 1992, so about 20 years. In 2002, we became a Microsoft partner after it acquired Navision, a software company from Denmark. [Microsoft provides] the technology solutions, and we help the customer implement them.
Describe your company culture.
Fun. Challenging. I want to make sure everyone has fun—but in an environment where great processes are in place to support them. We hire people who really love what they do, and we cultivate an environment to help employees collaborate creatively. I believe that is the key to success: listen to their ideas, make sure they are treated well, and get them to grow, express their creativity, and do their best. We have around 35 [workers] in two offices, in Calgary and Vancouver.
How do you recruit good employees?
I would say I focus on finding people with the same values as I have and that the company has. Number one is integrity. Number two is to be good at what you do. Very important. We’ve had employees who have been with us since the beginning, but the average is between 7 and 10 years. We allow people to be creative and feel rewarded for a job well done. We listen to them and respect them while providing processes to ensure their success.
Graduates from Gama Filho University with a bachelor’s of business administration
Graduates from Veiga de Almeida University with a bachelor’s of computer science
Starts first business, eventually selling it five years later to a large retail group
Receives an MBA from Fundação Getúlio Vargas
Graduates from the University of British Columbia with a certificate in project management; receives a PMP from the Project Management Institute
Begins successful delivery of complex multimillion-dollar projects for Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Dell, Sony, and TELUS
Becomes COO, VP of operations, and a partner at Open Door Technology
Tell me about your background. How did you get started in this field?
Well, I started my career as a developer when I was a teenager. I was a programmer, network administrator, implementer, and IT manager for some very large international companies. I’ve also managed very complex and highly visible projects for Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Dell, Sony, and TELUS. But my first love has always been on the entrepreneurial side.
What sorts of entrepreneurial projects have you developed?
While still in my 20s, I created a business that I am still very, very proud of. The business included two divisions: one for custom-manufacturing computers for customers and the second composed of a chain of retail stores selling computer hardware and software. This was before Dell began manufacturing customized computers and 15 years before Apple stores came into being with their white, high-concept retail environment. Five years later, the company was acquired by a large retail group.
Where do you see your industry headed?
My industry is changing all the time. One example is cloud-based computing. Although currently only about 10 percent is cloud-based, I believe it will increase substantially in the future. Even though there are many challenges involved, cloud-based computing has several advantages, which the marketplace is now starting to appreciate.
Who or what are your inspirations?
Inspirations are around me every moment. It comes from working with great people—energetic, successful people at the top of their field. I’m also inspired by people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They started in their garage from nothing and built something great. Their success was about what they loved and their passions.