In 1998, Chris Rader paired his deep roots in the lumber industry with his technology expertise to help lumber companies make greater profits. Within four years, he helped one of the companies go from $100 million to $650 million in sales, increasing profitability by $12.5 million. He helped the second company grow from $10 million to $100 million in sales and added $10 million to the bottom line. The increased sales and profitability began to draw attention within the industry. Shortly after the four-year mark, Fortune 500 companies purchased both of the smaller lumber businesses Rader helped.
In 2002, Rader hired his first employee and named the business Rader Solutions. He began to lay groundwork for a more expansive technology business — and the company began to grow.
“We started out backwards,” Rader said. “Most companies start out local and grow the region and then move on to national growth. We started nationally, and then began to service clients in our own market in 2006. When we say that the user experience is like we’re in the office with them, we mean it.”
Rader attributes the company’s growth to the model they’ve created of providing an assembled, proven, comprehensive infrastructure. Additionally, the Rader team focuses on security.
“For us, security is like an exercise program,” Rader said. “We have to work at it every day. In short, we leverage our insight and resources for each customer. The bottom line is that if a company chooses to use our services, they have a complete head start on their competition. We’re built for fast growth companies that demand right-now service.”
For Rader, the perfect client is in a high-growth business.
“They’re operating in a fast-paced environment and leverage technology to run their business,” Rader said. “Our clients are technology hungry.”
In 2003, the Rader team could not send servers to clients fast enough.
“We would order a server, have it shipped to our office, load software and send it to the client,” Rader said.
One day, Tim Fournet, Rader’s Chief Technology Officer suggested purchasing servers ahead of time to build an infrastructure that would allow clients to access servers via the Internet. Today, the “cloud” is the norm for businesses, but in 2003 it was revolutionary – the move to house and maintain servers allowing clients to access them remotely turned out to be a game changer for Rader.
Ultimately, Rader accumulated so many servers that temperature control became an issue. So, in 2010, the company moved to the LITE Center’s data center. By 2015, the company had grown to 22 employees who needed some breathing room of their own and moved their offices to the LITE Center and took over operations of the 2,700 square foot data center.
“Today, we have servers readily available for existing clients’ growth and new clients,” Rader said. “In addition, we have all the hardware — including PCs, laptops, notebooks, firewalls, switches, telephones and more in stock. We’re not experts on all types of hardware, but we are experts on the equipment we deploy. For the client, the guarantee is that if we send it to you, it will work.”
The Rader team is not your usual tech-geeky guys. One is a former roadie for Britney Spears. Another operated a bulldozer. Two are former chefs and another managed a pawn shop. Even so, they all share the Rader spirit. They understand how to listen to clients and possess problem-solving skills. They are able to quickly assist a client with an IT issue and understand the business impact that issue may have. They work to avoid outages and create back-up or redundant systems to ensure that customers can focus on their business while the Rader team focuses on IT. “We work hard to create a healthy work environment with a high level of trust among employees, clients and vendors. If we don’t trust an employee, client or vendor, we just don’t work with them,” Rader said. “We give the employees freedom to work at their pace. We share information with each other, and we treat our customers’ data like it’s sacred.”Beyond the unique set of personal skills on the team, a unique combination of core beliefs anchors the company around service to clients, each other and the community. On top of that, the team works to make certain that everyone maintains a healthy work/life balance and is…well, nice.
Chris P. Rader is Chief Executive Officer of Rader, an information technology company focusing on IT security, service and solutions for customers across the United States. Rader serves on the Board of Trustees for Spring Hill College and on the Board of Directors for several organizations, including The Lester Group, Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, Louisiana Innovation Council and the Petroleum Club. In addition, he serves on The Acadiana Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee. He recently completed serving as Chairman of the Board of Schools of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau. He is a 2012 graduate of Leadership Louisiana. Rader has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Spring Hill College and an Executive MBA from Vanderbilt University.
The Rader team believes in living our key value of being a part of and giving back to the community. Every year we volunteer for and support the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic, the Academy of Information Technology at Carencro High School, the Academy of the Sacred Heart, St. John Berchmans School and the Miles Perret Cancer Services, an organization dedicated to helping anyone with cancer through a number of free services. Along with these organizations, we support the Embrace the Dream Foundation, an orphanage in Mexico.