Service Express Grows HQ


    KENTWOOD — With a 10,000-square-foot expansion of its corporate headquarters, Service Express Inc. is again proving itself the fastest growing computer hardware maintenance firm in the Midwest.

    Located at 4845 Corporate Exchange Blvd. off of Patterson Avenue in Kentwood, Service Express has averaged annual growth of 20 percent over the past five years, and since 2001 has increased its work force by 38 percent and opened five regional offices in four states.

    This quarter, the company has plans to expand into Cincinnati and hopes to add Louisville, Ky., by the end of the year. The company expects to outgrow its current building by 2010.

    “It’s a controlled growth,” said President Ron Alvesteffer. “We aren’t opening offices and going into new states just to grow for the sake of growing. Our focus is on customer service. We have a 98 percent customer retention rate and we add staff and enter new markets only when we know we can maintain that.”

    In a market space dominated by OEMs like Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard and IBM, Service Express has grown comfortable working in the shadows of giants. Originally a division of a local hardware sales company, it has focused on maintenance contracts for mid- to high-end servers since 1993. Its core product is a customized service package offering 24/7 coverage and onsite assistance within four to eight hours

    A $15 million company in a multi-billion-dollar market, it has used its size as an advantage, carving a niche in the enterprise hardware market by being mobile, flexible and service-oriented.

    Every city has a local company that maintains PCs and printers, Alvesteffer said. Just as those firms attract businesses that do not require SEI’s scale of service, SEI has positioned itself to serve mid-market and larger companies that the OEMs have regarded as second tier customers.

    “When we go after the OEMS, typically we’re going after the revenue they don’t even want. They treat it like how we look at the PC/printer market,” he said. “They keep laying off engineers and focusing on just national companies, and service has really dropped for some good-sized players on a regional or local basis. That’s our niche.”

    The walls of SEI corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids are lined with reference letters from satisfied customers: colleges, hospitals and manufacturers — many of them high profile.    

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