Chris Veazey has never been one to shy away from taking chances. Following a five-year stint in the Air Force, he decided to leave Oklahoma City and return home to South Dakota — without a job. He joined Black Hills FiberCom (a Black Hills Corporation company) in 2000; they were acquired by Prairie Wave in 2005, and in 2007, when Knology bought PrarieWave, his engineering position was eliminated. He turned down the opportunity to stay on and work in commercial sales...again, without having anything else lined up. This bold entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to take risks have worked out well for Chris, who has built himself a successful one-man operation in Veazey Technologies.
Initially, Chris joined Black Hills Technologies, an information technology company providing a variety of IT support services to clients throughout western South Dakota, in 2007. He was essentially a partner, though he had his own clients. After researching the tax advantages of self-employed corporations, he rolled the dice once more and ventured out on his own, starting up Veazey Technologies in 2016. Despite the “breakup,” he maintains a strong working relationship with his former employer. The separation is more on paper than anything else; Black Hills Technologies and Veazey Technologies continue to share resources, passing work back and forth and even covering each other’s vacations.
“You hear horror stories about partnerships,” Chris admits, “but in this one, we pretty much rely on our own selves.”
This unique relationship works because they have separate projects, each geared toward their areas of expertise. Chris describes Veazey Technologies as “a break-fix IT company.” He has no managed contracts with clients, but instead provides a wide variety of IT-related services including local and wifi networks, email, web hosting, servers, storage space, telephone systems, backup plans, disaster recovery, and more. Clients are typically companies who either don’t have internal IT staff or only manage the basics; Chris deals with lots of different verticals, from medical clinics, law offices, and accountants to automotive dealerships and hotel property management. Customers looking for Windows exchange server emails or surveillance camera systems are directed to Black Hills Technologies, who specialize in those areas.
One ironic thing about turning down the sales position years earlier? “Now I’m more of a salesperson than ever!” Chris says with a laugh.
Like the vast majority of clients working at Ascent Innovation, Chris raves about the benefits of having office space at the Innovation Center. “It’s been fantastic just having common rooms, the ability to reserve conference rooms for meetings,” he says. “It would be an embarrassment to have somebody over to my office. Cables and computers everywhere...it’s just a mess!” Other perks include the ability to use Ascent as a FedEx dropoff point where there is always somebody around to sign for package deliveries — a real boon in the equipment industry.
Another plus that Chris is quick to point out is the camaraderie. “I’ve made a lot of friends at the incubator,” he explains. “It’s great just being able to bounce ideas off people who aren’t in your company.”
Veazey Technologies doesn’t have any employees other than Chris at the moment, though he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of hiring additional help someday. For now, he has had good luck outsourcing through various freelance websites or simply taking on projects himself.
Chris has no regrets moving back to Rapid City, and is excited for the area’s future. “It’s definitely going in the right direction!” he says optimistically.