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Claysville consulting company links to the world

| Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 7:47 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Rick Newton, president and founder of Newton Consulting, an information technology and consulting company, opened a new headquarters in the small town of Claysville, rather than locating to a business center such as Pittsburgh or Southpointe. The company has a client base that stretches to Europe and since 2009 has increased from 33 employees to 73. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Ashley Sprowls an office and business coordinator at Newton Consulting works in the company's Claysville office. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review

Rick Newton thought about moving his consulting company to Southpointe or Pittsburgh as it outgrew a carriage house at his home in Washington County.

But he decided that Newton Consulting LLC could deliver information technology and other services for corporations, with better-than-typical attention to their needs, just as well from a base in the small, rural town of Claysville.

And owning a building — rather than renting a prestige address for up to $5,000 a month — would help to keep prices low that Newton charged for his services.

The company that the former Black Box Corp. group IT manager started in 2003 is “really about what we can do for customers, not where our headquarters are,” said Newton, who grew up in nearby West Alexander.

“I've never known anyone to discount Newton Consulting because we have a Claysville address.”

Last month, eight staff members moved to a circa 1980s warehouse that Newton's founder bought and renovated to suit the 1880s style of many of the buildings along historic Route 40, Claysville's main street. Most of the company's 73 employees work mainly from home, or at customers' offices or plants. Total employment is up from 33 three years ago.

Newton consultants install and fine-tune business software, including large enterprise resource planning, or ERP, systems that tie together information across large organizations.

They also find talented job candidates, streamline supply and distribution chains, plan investments, analyze finances and, increasingly, make it possible for workers to find the internal information they need — think of a chain store manager, researching job applicants on file — on their mobile smartphones.

Engineering simulation software developer Ansys Inc. has hired Newton Consulting for several tasks, including implementing Oracle business software two years ago that connects locations in 23 countries.

“I've never been on a project with Rick that wasn't successful, and we've done some multimillion-dollar projects,” said Steve Dick, director of business applications for Cecil-based Ansys.

Dick said he and Newton met in 1999 when Newton worked for Solutions Consulting Inc., a Washington-based company that was acquired by Ross Perot's company, Perot Systems.

After Newton went off on his own, ”We gave him a shot, and we've used him for multiple projects since then,” Dick said, and work consistently is on-time and on-budget.

Newton's own, often frustrating experiences when he employed business consultants, or worked as one, shaped the vision for his company.

Most of those companies are so profit-focused, always looking for the next big contract, that they give little attention to ongoing customer service, he said.

“I had multiple run-ins with consultants I would bring in at Black Box,” where he worked for seven years, Newton said. “I wanted to prove that a customer-focused consulting company could survive. That hadn't been my experience up to that point.”

Newton also gave in to a longtime urge to build his own company because he wanted to travel less, and spend more time with his family. He cashed in 401(k) accounts to cover living expenses, and started a small video production business while he waited out a year-long non-compete period.

Eventually, some former customers called. His big break came when GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, based in Moon, asked him to take over IT support for a computer system that runs its inventory and orders.

“They were running the same software we used at Black Box, and in 2005 they hired me,” Newton said, adding he quickly brought in three subcontractors for help.

That successful project led to other work. Just since 2009, Newton Consulting's revenue has grown from $8.5 million to a projected $20.2 million for 2012.

Newton Consulting was named to Inc. magazine's 5000 list of the nation's fastest growing companies because of its 77 percent revenue growth rate from 2008 to 2011. The company also placed on the list in 2010 and 2011.

Newton said he likes to hire employees with 15 to 20 years of experience, and takes on few people straight out of college.

That practice allows teams of four or five professionals to work closely with customers on projects. Other consulting companies often put a few seasoned workers in charge of a dozen or more other recruits.

In the end, with his approach, “They get just as much work done, the quality will be higher and the cost will be dramatically lower,” he said.

Newton Consulting has a London office, has incorporated and does business in Canada, although no office is there yet, and will continue to expand globally, he said.

A Chicago office may be needed at some point, and perhaps a satellite office closer to Pittsburgh.

As for its customer base, “Our goal is to get into at least three to five more Fortune 1000 companies, and grow a footprint like we have with some existing clients,” he said.

“Once we get into a company it's very rare that we go away. We continue to work for them.”

Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606 or

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