If you’ve started a business, purchased a house, or sold a car in Saskatchewan lately, you’ve done business with Information Services Corporation (ISC). The former Crown corporation develops and manages registries and provides information services on behalf of Saskatchewan. In 2013, the province sold 69 percent of its ownership, making ISC a publicly traded company. Jeff Stusek, president and CEO, recently met with Advantage to talk about how his role has changed, how ISC emerged from a successful IPO, and where the company is headed now.
Advantage: What have the last two years been like?
Jeff Stusek: Two thousand thirteen marked a new beginning for us. A lot has changed, but we still run the land, corporate, and personal property registries for the province like we always have. Only now we are also able to actively pursue growth opportunities for the business.
How have you done that so far?
We recently entered into an agreement to acquire econveyance, a subscription-based solution that offers a secure and efficient means of managing real property transactions. In addition, we’re looking for opportunities to run other registries in Saskatchewan and other jurisdictions.
Could you have grown in this way if you had stayed a Crown corporation?
Possibly, but it would have been more difficult, as governments traditionally tend to avoid risk. Also, offering a service provided by a government-owned company to a government in another jurisdiction is quite challenging. ISC was an exceptionally well-run company but really needed to be in the private sector to have the opportunity to grow, and the Saskatchewan government recognized that.
Is the government still involved?
Well, they own 31 percent of our shares, so they are our biggest shareholder. However, they don’t have influence on strategic business decisions other than their ability to place board members relative to ownership.
Joins ISC after 13 years in various positions with different municipalities, including 3 years as the City of Regina’s director of transit
Appointed to president and CEO
Elected to the board of directors for the Saskatchewan Roughriders
Helps ISC record a $17.2 million profit for the year
Named one of the province’s 10 Men of Influence by SaskBusiness, having led the organization through a successful IPO
How has your role as CEO changed?
We used to have only one shareholder: the government. Now we have to manage our relationship to investors, and that’s an important job that falls on me. I’m also really involved in looking at acquisitions and growth opportunities.
You mentioned team. Did your structure have to change a lot as a result of the IPO?
There wasn’t actually a major shift. ISC had built a really strong team. The government didn’t sell because they were tired of the business or dissatisfied with our people. They didn’t want to stall our growth. We were well positioned to go through the IPO because we were used to quarterly financial reporting and other similar processes. For our staff, it was business as usual.
Where are the biggest opportunities ahead?
There are many paths. One is that these registries that we operate exist in each province of Canada. They’re usually operated by the government, and we see ISC as a good alternative for those that don’t want to remain in that space but need someone to run those registries.
How difficult is it to land those clients?
It’s like hunting elephants. It takes a long time, and it moves slowly. You might only get one every once in a while, but when you do, it’s pretty significant.
What are the other paths?
Our information management competency. We manage information, we keep it secure, and we have customer-oriented solutions, which can be applied to other services within what we call the registry ecosystem. And a third path is in additional registry-like functions within Saskatchewan.
How do you like to lead your teams?
To me, leading is like coaching. I coach my sons’ football team, and I see so many overlaps to what I do at ISC. Coaching is about helping someone understand and motivating them to do something they never thought possible.
What else is important?
Communication. Having a clarity of purpose and goals. We want to win. What plays will help get us there? On the field and in the office, you’re part of a team, and you have to surround yourself with great people who may be playing different positions but are all working together for the same purpose.
What are you asking your team to focus on?
We’re defining the business from the customer’s perspective. We have a monopoly, but we have to act like our customers have a choice. That’s how we want to treat our customers, and doing so has given us the opportunity to grow.