Arlin Sorensen is best known for his ongoing work with HTG Peer Groups and Heartland Technology Solutions (an MSP and IT services provider). But Sorensen and some other well-known names are also focused on a startup called Heartland Technology Consultants (HTC). The complete HTC story won't likely emerge until 2013 -- when the company fully pulls back its curtains. In the meantime, here are some early clues from Sorensen about how HTC plans to serve the IT channel -- both IT service providers and vendors.
According to Sorensen:
"Heartland Technology Consultants is in startup mode. We will officially come to market in 2013 – this next year  will be a building year with a small controlled pilot to get our program together and our training in place. Bottom line is that we will offer consulting services to VAR’s and vendors, and will provide subject matter experts that can address the common blockers to growth that most companies face like sales, service delivery, HR, finance etc. So that will be somewhat similar to other offerings in the market. Our team will be deeper and broader, but able to deal with the challenges of running a company."Admittedly, the IT channel is filled with coaches -- some quite good, some not so good. HTC hopes to differentiate by focusing on both "leadership and life coaching," said Sorensen. "We will come alongside companies to address the need to grow management and leaders, as well as address the challenges that owning a business creates in personal relationships."
The Messy StuffYes, the HTC coaching will deal with personal aspects of life. "We will tackle things like marriage, family, faith and other messy things because that is what truly matters," said Sorensen. "So our team will not only be strong in their experience in the marketplace, but also in their ability to coach people to grow as husbands, dads and bosses. Coaching will be the cornerstone of what we do as we see that as the major blocker to most problems. It may look like a business issue – but there is always more under the surface."
Although HTC remains in startup mode, a value statement is already in place: "HTC walks with you to achieve your desired growth and legacy by providing coaching and consulting based on experience, wisdom, and integrity."
HTC's Business Model and Initial TeamHTC plans to develop a monthly fee-based approach that will give its SMB clientele -- IT service providers and vendors -- access to the entire HTC team. "We aren’t looking for short-term engagements; we want ongoing and deep relationships where we can invest in the entire company and help each achieve their potential and reach their dreams," said Sorensen. "It will be a different approach from things we currently see."
The first HTC employee is Brad Schow, formerly of Compudyne of Duluth, Minnesota. "Brad is our first, and only current employee, and there will be more coming as we go through 2012." In late 2011, Sorensen and Schow completed three days of intense training at the Enrichment Center in Decatur, Ala. The center's executive director, Dr. Larry Little, is mentoring and certifying HTC's coaches.
Emerging StrategySorensen concedes that some of HTC's strategy is still emerging. "We aren’t able to give a lot of details as we don’t really have them yet," he said. "We have a vision, a clear mission, and know what we will do in terms of providing a team of people who are committed to helping our clients with any issue they face – starting with legacy and life – and also their leadership and business challenges. Beyond that we are building and training and preparing to make a difference."
Other ThoughtsSorensen is deeply plugged into the IT channel -- both on the vendor side and the IT service provider side. His relationships across HTG Peer Groups should be a natural door opener for HTC, though he'll need to maintain the same balancing act that we all face in the IT channel: Balancing casual business relationships -- and many friendships -- with paid engagements.
What will make HTC truly unique? It's far too early for me to say. But I will offer this: Plenty of people have attempted to build peer groups and coaching organizations, but HTG Peer Groups has carved out a unique slice in this market. We'll be watching to see if Sorensen, Schow and forthcoming HTC team members can build another unique model at HTC.
And of course, I forget to ask the ultimate question: Will Sorensen continue to split time between Heartland Technology Solutions, HTC and HTG? Or will he start to devote more of his time to one specific endeavor... say... HTC?