“It was literally just me at my kitchen table with a cell phone, a laptop and a dream — or maybe a nightmare,” Roger Whiteman recalled. “I was struggling to pay the bills back then, coming off a layoff from a large international company and a divorce at the same time as the Great Recession.”
That was eight years ago, when Whiteman, the founder and chief operating officer of Kolter Solutions, began laying the foundation on unsure ground for his information technology services firm. In the years since, his hard work and dedicated team have proved to be wise investments. Opening a new office in Lake Mary this year, Kolter has expanded its focus, maintaining its staffing services and adding managed services projects.
That growth really began just a couple of years after its founding, when the company and its team began to find their footing. “It took me a few years to assemble the right people to really grow into a viable company,” Whiteman said.
The first addition was Whiteman’s then new wife, Debra Ferwerda. Already a successful attorney of more than 20 years with her own practice, she came on board as general counsel and chief executive officer. Whiteman said the new role was a perfect fit with her experience building a firm from scratch in a competitive landscape and her expertise not only as a trial lawyer, but in obtaining new clients, gaining their trust and delivering results.
The firm went on to add Kim Carr, who brought more than 20 years of experience and community relationships, and later Tracy Dickerhoff, with a proven talent for building, mentoring and managing winning teams. This completed what would turn out to be the perfect team for the job. “That’s when things really took off,” Whiteman said.
With a combined 75 years of experience, Kolter’s emphasis on creating and sustaining relationships within its community and those it serves is key to its steady growth.
“It was important to me to be highly ethical, making our decisions based on strong morals and values,” Whiteman said. “Doing the right thing by people is our mantra, and it’s how we run the company.”