As featured in the Spring 2020 issue of The Executive, an online magazine featuring members of Gwinnett Chamber’s Chairman’s Club.
Growing up as a kid who liked video games and daydreamed about owning his own business, things didn’t click for Rocket IT founder and CEO Matt Hyatt until, as a teenager, he watched his dad’s boss cut a check to pay a computer consultant.
“I don’t remember the amount, but I do remember that my eyes about fell out of my head when I saw how much she got paid for the few minutes that she was there. I think that was the moment I decided that I wanted to be in the computer business,” Hyatt said. By finding his own learning opportunities throughout the early days of personal computers, Hyatt was able to recognize his dream: Rocket IT, Hyatt’s information technology (IT) outsource company, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Effectively serving as an IT department for small businesses, nonprofit organizations and municipalities, Rocket IT supports all the normal functions one would expect from an IT department, from help desk and device support to cyber security and cloud technology. The company also offers a Fractional Chief Information Officer (CIO) subscription service that gives clients access to a c-suite level executive who can help build a strategic plan for a client’s technological future.
Getting Rocket IT to where it is today hasn’t been an easy ride, and Hyatt admitted that Rocket IT looks much different than he originally dreamed it would. “Somebody asked me the other day if we were as big as I imagined we might be when I first started thinking about the company and I answered no,” he said. “The reality is you can accomplish a lot more today with a fewer number of people than you might have been able to do 30 years ago. So, while the number of people who work at Rocket IT might be smaller than I imagined, we’re doing a lot more work than I think I would have guessed. We’re reaching more people. We have a bigger impact on the community. It’s a lot more successful than I think I ever would have imagined.”
And what makes Hyatt feel successful isn’t headcount, it’s having a positive impact on another person. “Our underlying purpose is really short and easy to remember: help people thrive,” Hyatt said. “Everything we do is designed to help other people be successful.”
One way in which Hyatt’s philosophy of positive interpersonal interactions has manifested itself within Rocket IT is the intentional limitation of the company’s geographic market to Gwinnett County. “I like to really connect with the people we serve,” Hyatt said, “so we’ve gone deep here in our backyard. All of our marketing dollars, all of our outbound sales efforts, virtually all of our community efforts and our charitable endeavors – all of it happens inside that geographic target.”
Though Hyatt initially moved to Gwinnett simply because he knew someone who lived here, he chose to stay because of the great community. “It’s near a big city, so there’s all kinds of entertainment, culture and art, but in Gwinnett we’re a little bit removed from the downtown scene. It feels more homey, more small town, even though we’re a pretty big suburb,” he said.
Though Rocket IT continues to be “hyper focused” on clients in Gwinnett, Hyatt and his team have felt compelled to take their longevity and success and “pay it forward” to the business community at large. The company recently started a podcast aimed at helping small businesses grow called Rocket IT Business podcast. “We want to multiply the impact of what we’re doing and share it with the world,” Hyatt said. “The podcast gives us the opportunity to reach further out to folks we may not encounter here in our backyard.”
Hyatt’s goal with the podcast is to share his team’s story and those of other like-minded small business owners – a story he said doesn’t get a lot of attention. “There’s a whole culture and movement around start-ups right now. The idea that there are so many entrepreneurs out there who have started up businesses, many of them technology businesses, where the number one goal is to get funded,” Hyatt said. “Maybe I’m missing the boat on some of those fail-fast, get funding, create something really quick, kind of deals. I’m much more interested in the long-haul. Let’s create something of significance, not only accepting that it might take a long time but embracing that it will take a long time to do that.”
Another long-time project of Hyatt’s came into being in 2019, with the opening of his new multi-tenant office building. The renovated space in Suwannee, which Hyatt and his wife bought in 2017, serves as the new Rocket IT headquarters and provides space for community events. “My primary focus for decades was building and growing Rocket IT, but always in the back of my mind, I’ve been interested in real estate,” Hyatt said. “It’s been fun to focus some of my energy and attention on something that’s completely different.”
Rocket IT hosted an open house in its new space to celebrate the 25th anniversary, bringing together people who have supported Hyatt and his dream over the last 25 years. “All these people that have come along to stand beside me, embracing the idea of what we’re trying to accomplish, which is to help others be successful in all our circles of influence. That’s what gets me really fired up and excited,” Hyatt said. “We are a team. We work together for the highest possible good of the people that we serve. And when I say serve, I mean serving not just our customers, but our community. That’s very important to us. That’s why we’re here.”
Written by Heather Collins. Photo courtesy of RocketIT.