Founder/CEO, Centro LLC
Ohio native Shawn Riegsecker was 20-something when he launched Centro in Chicago in 2001 to provide digital media services to ad agencies so they could buy and execute digital campaigns more efficiently. “The Internet has created a ton of fragmentation in the market,” he explains. “Now people consume media in 100 more places than they did 15 years ago, before the web. So creating efficiencies is a lot more important than it ever has been. And Centro’s business model is incredibly needed.”
Now, at age 40, Mr. Riegsecker is celebrating impressive company growth, with close to 450 employees in 32 cities. “The main difference between then and now is I have a few more gray hairs and a lot more wrinkles,” he jokes. And even though Centro conducts business across the country, there’s plenty of room for growth. “Well, it’s a very big planet,” he says with a smile.
On his company’s tremendous amount of success, Mr. Riegsecker explains, “The biggest thing is building relationships. It’s about having an incredible sales force who goes over the top, above and beyond, to service the clients. And also through a heavy amount of marketing, really getting people to understand there’s a better future if they choose to form a relationship with our services and software.”
Centro was also named ‘best place to work’ by Crain’s Chicago Business for the last three years. “Growing a company isn’t easy,” he explains. “Running it through a recession, raising capital…every step along the way you can screw something up.” One factor that landed Centro on top of the list are the generous benefits: health, dental and life insurance, bonus plan, paid sabbatical after four years of employment, 10 personal days a year, 50 percent matching up to 8 percent of salary for a 401(k), pretax commuter plan, complimentary yoga and Sittercity membership. “What’s most important is the employees,” he says, “and the idea that Centro is a place where people are really happy, feel fulfilled and secure and can have a lot of fun. Life’s too short.”
Women are an integral part of Centro’s success, with 3 of 10 senior executives being female. “I’d prefer to have more women on the senior team,” he shares, “but it’s difficult because there aren’t a lot of women in technology. And that doesn’t make sense to me. It’s a detriment to the industry. Men are fantastic, but women provide great skill sets men don’t have.”
And one surprising characteristic of Mr. Riegsecker is the fact that while he’s a polished extroverted man with others, he’s actually quite the introvert. “I spend a lot of time alone…still a bachelor,” he says. “Ninety percent of my vacation time consists of me going somewhere for a week to read or meditate. That’s the one thing everyone is always shocked to hear.” Hmmm, still eligible?