Cantu Brothers Continuously Reinvent Redapt

Posted by Joseph M. Phillips on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 9:09 AM PST


David and Rick Cantu, co-founders of Redapt, visited the Albers Executive Speaker Series on January 15th, 2019. Redapt is a cloud and big data service provider that the Cantu's founded 22 years ago, which has grown to $2 billion in revenues.

This was the first brother act in the 17 years of the Speaker Series, and they explained how they have continued to reinvent the company as the technology needs of customers change. What started out as refurbishing and reselling computers, moved to be a solution provider of integrated services, adding engineering, security, access to the cloud and, most recently, artificial intelligence and machine learning. This continuous reinvention comes from listening to customers about what their needs are, then finding a way to respond.

An Emphasis on Company Culture and Customer Experience

They attribute their ability to scale the business to the Northwest's knack for focusing on the customer experience. They cite examples such as Costco Wholesale, Nordstrom, and Starbucks that influenced them to listen to the customer and respond to requests for new services.

Company culture is another important ingredient to their success. Beginning with a "no jerks" rule, they work hard to foster collaboration and teamwork, and a "we are all in this together" attitude. They also want to see curiosity in their workforce. You can't identify customer needs if you don't ask questions.

As a tech company, both admitted that finding the right people is difficult, and they have begun to set up several locations outside of the Seattle area to recruit tech savvy workers. One key that aids their search for talent is the company culture. It is one that has appeal to many workers.

Can Siblings Successfully Run a Business Together? Redapt Shows It's Possible

As entrepreneurs, they note that a key to entrepreneurship is the ability to tolerate risk. David said that in his case, when they were bootstrapping the business, it helped that he was living in his mom's basement and felt that he did not have much to lose! He was not mortgaging his home or putting a family at financial risk! Entrepreneurs also need imagination. They need a vision to go out and execute. The first attempt at execution may not work, but they must be ready to adapt and move in a different direction.

As brothers, one naturally wonders how well they get along (don't brothers always fight?). The key is to trust the expertise of the other, they said. David is the Chief Operating Officer, Rick the CEO. They've divided up the territory to play to their strengths. And when they do disagree, they know they would "rather be family and brothers than right!"

Is this super successful company an acquisition target? Absolutely, but there are two big hurdles to overcome. First, they value being in charge of their own destiny, and they believe they owe it to the other employees to maintain the culture. They won't ask their employees to work for someone they do not want to work for!

This was another great opportunity for out students to hear from two successful business leaders who are also brothers. Fostering a collaborative culture and listening to the customer have allowed them to succeed in the highly disruptive tech environment, and there is more to come from Redapt!