Smoothing annual tech transactions to the tune of $1 billion
Cilio Technologies branching out beyond Lowe’s
Special to The Freeman
BROOKFIELD – When Randy Olejnik launched his company in 2001, he worried about what the Fortune 500 companies he targeted as clients would think when they realized his operation consisted of eight guys – each working out of his home.
However, now that Cilio Technologies is responsible for processing $1 billion in transactions annually, including managing the installed sales and special order sales for Lowe’s 1,750 stores, he doesn’t really care what anyone thinks.
“We don’t make any secrets of it,” Olejnik said. “As a matter of fact, because of our lean structure, we are very cost-effective.”
Olejnik spent 23 years running Ranco Systems, a software firm he started at age 28. When he sold the company in 2001, he had 26 employees and was paying $15,000 a month in rent to house Ranco.
Olejnik knew he could do things better, both from an operations standpoint and as an IT innovator.
“I think what has been most helpful to me is the vision I’ve had and being able to see a new way of doing business,” Olejnik said.
Having spent more than two decades developing software for the manufacturing industry, Olejnik knew the struggles manufacturers faced regarding IT. He also saw an opportunity to create something on the-then burgeoning web. tcaps cloud So from 2001 to 2005, Cilio – formally IT Directions and Strategies until a rebranding campaign in 2012 renamed it Cilio – built the “Partners Portal,” an Internet application that allows all parties involved to see and manage orders in real time.
For example, if a homeowner purchases countertops at Lowe’s from Formica, the Partners Portal will house all of the information from the retailer, the manufacturer and all of the laborers who will work on the project.
In the past, retail stores would take an order and fax it to the installer, who would go to the home, do the measurements and then fax the order for the materials to the manufacturers to do the work. The entire process is very costly and time consuming, Olejnik said.
“This way nothing falls through the cracks, everything is accounted for and it’s a happy day,” Olejnik said. “It’s a new paradigm and it’s exactly what I was looking for in 2001.”
Cilio’s first customer was LG Hausys surfacing brand. Olejnik knew the president of LG’s North American sales and also knew that company had a problem with managing countertop sales out of Lowe’s. . So in 2005, Cilio stepped in. By 2007, Lowe’s was so pleased with the results that the company hired Cilio to manage the installed sales and special order sales for five of its countertop manufacturers.
In 2001, Olejnik and his partners, Steve Becker, Allen Klumpp and son Jeremy Olejnik, decided that while they could “live a happy life” with Lowe’s, they wanted to grow the company so they are focusing on reaching more manufacturers.
“We thought about who is really bringing us into the Lowe’s-type stores and it’s the manufacturers so our focus is selling to the manufacturers,” Olejnik said.
John Pinsoneault, with Houston-based Sage Surfaces, has worked with Cilio for more than two years. Pinsoneault said the company was chosen because of its relationship with Lowe’s and its track record and ability to implement the Sage Surfaces business model.
Cilio is also exploring partnerships with other companies, including Neo-Cloud Marketing in Menomonee Falls.
“The growth of the company is being managed,” Olejnik said. “I’m a very conservative person and I understand what out-of-control growth can do. That’s why we started the way we did, scrimped and saved, and then built what we did and knocked it out of the park with LG.”