When you name your Midwestern company Leading EDJE during a high-tech revolution, better remember two things: First, bring the goods. Second, bring an attitude to match.
For Leading EDJE CEO Joelle Brock, the company name means a serious commitment to custom solutions, staff learning and—surprisingly—laughing at least once every hour. Invite the staff and family to a picnic at the Columbus Zoo, and 91 people attend. Need a babysitter for your junior geek? EDJE colleagues are there to help.
Where does the EDJE come from? The acronym stands for Erica Dave Joelle Enterprises, using the first names of founders Erica Krumlauf, chief operating officer; Dave Michels, chief technology officer, and Joelle herself, but the edginess reflects strategy, culture and committed listening.
Founded 10 years ago, Leading EDJE expects to employ 50 fulltime by the end of this year, and it uses no contract or part-time staff. It provides custom software development, project management and embedded developers onsite to help clients like Safelite, Donatos and Crown Search Services.
Columbus 2020, JobsOhio and other groups have helped connect Leading EDJE to emerging enterprises here, where software breakthroughs may be essential to job growth, Brock says.
Geeky aspirations own the company's culture. “REAL. FUN. GEEKS.” is the brand slogan—both for customers and potential employees. Brock wants to attract aggressive problem-solvers with just as much passion for fun and work-life balance. That has kept Leading EDJE on Inc. Magazine's list of 5,000 fastest-growing companies.
“We're super-excited about being the geekiest of the geeks. When we mix our clients into our culture, that's a release of energy for them,” Brock says.
The quest for clients may include a lot of retail, but Brock and Wendy Ivany, chief growth officer (translation: sales and recruiting), say that doesn't reflect targeting.
“When we're looking to engage with a new client or an existing client, we're looking for that mutual respect, a mutual bond and that loyalty to one another. So we're not trying to find as many clients as we can. We're out to find the next client that wants to go as deep in our relationship as we have with our other clients,” Ivany says. The key question for potential customers is how far they want to lean forward.
“Everything we do is on a custom basis, so it's not as if we're dropping in-a-box solutions,” Brock says. “We truly get to the root of our clients' problems, and we do that through custom technology development.”
Leading EDJE offers NIMBLE (New Ideas Made By Leading EDJE), where a client's subject matter experts join Leading EDJE staff in their expanding Dublin creative space to think of ways to approach their business and disrupt it with technology.
EDJErs, the website claims, are “the smartest, most capable geeks in town,” but Brock wants to make sure they're the happiest, too. Time off, flextime and comprehensive benefits play a part.
If people pass the company's core values test, they'll benefit from internal investment in their ongoing training and education. “People come to work for Leading EDJE because they know they're going to get a lot of investment from the company,” Brock says.
“The people we bring on the team are the best problem solvers there are. They come up against a problem and they get excited about it because it's something new. They know they're going to solve it. The chase to the solve is what's fun for them,” Brock says.