Alan Rihm, CEO of CoreDial LLC, appreciates the importance of corporate culture to the success of a business. His 165-employee business-to-business company offers cloud-based communication products and tools, such as phone, messaging, and chat systems, and most recently video collaboration and meeting rooms, such as Zoom. Another competitor is Vonage. And although Rihm, 56, adapts to the technological demands of the increasing use of remote working, he does not lose sight of what he believes to be a cohesive and collaborative work force.
“I enjoy the human interaction,” he said. “It seems intuitive to me that if you engage with other members of your team more often, people have more opportunities to recognize greatness and an opportunity to promote someone.”
The privately-held CoreDial, based in Blue Bell, Montgomery County, has 32,000 businesses on its platform, primarily catering to businesses with between 25 and 500 employees. CoreDial does not contract with the customers who use its products, but reaches its end users through some 850 trading partners. Founded in 2005, CoreDial’s flagship CoreNexa platform incorporated video collaboration technology recently acquired from the acquisition of Stoneham, MA-based eZuce. The key acquisition had been in the works for several years, but has taken on increased urgency as the pandemic has forced U.S. workers to perform homework to work remotely. “The pandemic has caused us to become really aggressive in the search for [a video addition]”Rihm said.” Luckily we found it. “
One of the reasons you make acquisitions is because you buy customers, and the other is to speed up your roadmap. And we wanted to accelerate our roadmap. Obviously, we just went through this pandemic. The video has become everyone’s best friend. And we had a solution, but it wasn’t good enough. So we found eZuce. It was a rough diamond which, frankly, had pretty ugly software. But really, really capable. Like a really solid engine. And so, we’ve spent the last seven or eight months adding a really nice user interface to make it more user-friendly.
It’s myself and my management team, Warren Barratt, my CFO, and Ken Lienemann, revenue director. Some of these offers are sent to us through bankers. So the first thing we do is start by making it known what we are looking for and what we are looking for and what kind of deals we are looking for. Because a lot of times you don’t know what’s available. So you give them two or three different things, and then you get proposals presented to you. And if you find a game interesting and compelling, you ask questions and a lot of that is about the team and the culture: will they fit in? Is this going to make sense? Can we help them succeed? Are we better with them? And can we help them be better with us?
We started building our own video platform probably four or five years ago. And obviously the pandemic has accelerated everyone’s need to use video. Video was once a “must-have” for many businesses, but then it has become a “must-have” overnight. We needed a video product and room technology to have 100 people in a meeting or 1000 people in a webinar, or meeting rooms and conference rooms, so people could connect. . The pandemic made it even more important and forced us to take it seriously, to look really aggressive.
You worry about engagement. I think this whole environment got a lot of leaders, CEOs, or entrepreneurs thinking, how do I make sure the employees are engaged and not just standing in front of the fridge, you know, watching what they’re going to eat next.
No no! Definitely not. Our culture is not like that. We would focus more on encouraging and trying to motivate and inspire an employee to be a part of what we do rather than demanding. The whole question of engagement is critical. Trying to make sure employees feel like part of the team, that they feel they have the support they need. And that we know that employees buy [to the company vision]. It’s a little harder today than when we were all together in an office. Now you have to do it all online.
I think that makes it more difficult. We need to find new ways to make a first impression and have [potential employees] discover our culture. And so we have a culture team. Culture is not a thing. There are layers and layers and layers of things you have to do to build a [company] culture.
My commitment to culture grew out of the natural need to identify your culture because people ask. Back in my second business, we experienced a growth spurt from seven to 75 employees in four months. And this culture was created but not by design. It just happened. Here in CoreDial, our culture has been designed. There are so many things we do to do [employees] feeling like part of a family. It should be an environment of trust, where you are ready to express yourself. From a distance, it’s a bit difficult to do.