(CENTRAL KY. MARKET REVIEW) — From marketing, accounting and IT services to back-office support, Central Kentucky is stocked with business and professional services talent to help meet the needs of the region’s industry leaders.
The region’s business and professional services industry provides services and support for other businesses in various key industries—legal, architectural, engineering, and consulting services—and basic services that support daily activities, such as back-office support operations, accounting, shared services and processing facilities.
Lexington is home to more than 70 headquarters operations, many of which require business services firms to help them operate. A strong professional services sector is crucial to the region’s economy: The business and professional services industry accounts for 13.3% of jobs in the Lexington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
Central Kentucky is an ideal location for business services firms. It has an educated workforce, the infrastructure to support businesses of all sizes, and it is one of the lowest cost-of-business locations in the United States. More than 41% of Lexington residents older than 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, making the city the 14th most highly educated city in the country.
Lexington has consistently been ranked as one of the best places to live and work. In 2021, Wallet Hub named it the No. 5 Best Run City in America and No. 15 on its list of Cities Whose Unemployment Rates are Bouncing Back the Most. SmartAsset named it No. 11 on its list of Best Cities for First-Time Homebuyers and No. 10 on its list of Cities with the Best Work-Life Balance.
Business services firms choose Lexington because of its productive workforce and central location, according to Commerce Lexington.
Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance, the largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Kentucky, is located in Lexington. KEMI provides coverage to more than 20,000 policyholders in all 120 counties of the state, educates Kentucky businesses about workplace safety and invests in building community partnerships. It also offers free workplace safety resources.
Over the past year, KEMI has seen growth in its education sector, said Ryan Worthen, director of marketing and customer experience. It now insures 84% of public school districts in the state and more than a third of Kentucky colleges and universities.
KEMI has paid over $16 million in policyholder dividends since November 2020.
“We also refunded an additional $16 million to Kentucky schools and are anticipating a return of $20 million to eligible coal operators as a result of KEMI’s proactive management with the Kentucky Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Fund,” Worthen said.
The KEMI team, comprised of about 200 employees in and around Central Kentucky, quickly adapted to the challenges of COVID-19. In March 2020, KEMI employees switched to remote working and collaboration with technology that allowed them to ensure business continuity and service to thousands of agents, policyholders and injured, Worthen said.
Global firm Rubicon working to reinvent recycling
Rubicon, a software platform that provides smart waste and recycling solutions to businesses and governments worldwide, in 2021 located its global headquarters at Lexington’s City Center. It is a leader in providing cloud-based waste and recycling solutions.
Rubicon was founded in 2008 in Kentucky by Nate Morris and Marc Spiegel. The company’s mission is to end waste and move cities and businesses of all kinds away from the reliance on environmentally destructive landfills. Using technology to drive environmental innovation, the company helps turn businesses into more sustainable enterprises, and neighborhoods into greener and smarter places to live and work.
With more than 4.9 million service locations, Rubicon focuses on developing software solutions that bring new transparency to the waste and recycling industry—encouraging customers to make data-driven decisions that lead to more efficient and effective operations as well as more sustainable outcomes.
Rubicon manages all waste and recycling services through an extensive network of more than 7,000 vendor and hauler partners. Its programs span cardboard, plastic, paper, metal, glass, electronics recycling, construction and demolition, organics recycling (including food waste and composting services), and single-stream recycling. Rubicon’s subject matter experts manage commodity markets, zero-waste programs and other sustainability offerings.
Accounting and business solutions
The Bluegrass region is home to large accounting firms that specialize in offering business solutions that reach beyond traditional tax and assurance services. Two of those are Dean Dorton and MCM CPAs & Advisors.
Dean Dorton is headquartered in Lexington, where it has 151 employees, and offers accounting, tax and business consulting services from its locations in Lexington, Louisville and Raleigh, N.C. The firm helps clients strategize, adapt and change in every stage of business, from startup to growth and proper succession planning.
Dean Dorton, ranked No. 111 on Inside Public Accounting’s 2021 top firms list, offers audit and assurance, accounting and financial outsourcing, tax, business consulting and advisory services, cybersecurity and technology services to companies in all sectors and of all sizes. In July 2021, Dean Dorton acquired data analytics company Breakpoint Technology, a full-service IT consulting firm in Louisville.
Data analytics is something all businesses should be utilizing, said Dean Dorton president and CEO David Bundy.
“You hear ‘big data’ but what you’re really looking at is taking your data and making it work for you—being able to make business decisions a lot faster because you can actually see what’s happening in a more real-time manner,” he said.
In addition to being a recognized leader in IT business management and collaboration solutions, Dean Dorton’s team has experience in integrated portal solutions, workflow automation, data and analysis solutions, enterprise budgeting for academic medical centers, custom development solutions and more.
Over the past year, Dean Dorton has seen tremendous growth in its business advisory and consulting services, as well as its accounting and financial outsourcing business, Bundy said.
Technology has made a big impact on the services Dean Dorton offers to its clients, he said.
“Technology makes doing our business easier and allows us to provide services to businesses anytime, anywhere throughout the world. For example, with accounting and financial outsourcing, businesses have access to their financial data 24/7 via mobile phone connection or app,” he said. “Technology has always been an integral piece of providing services to clients.”
MCM CPAs & Advisors, one of the largest CPA firms in Kentucky, has five offices in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. The firm has 27 employees in its Lexington office.
From accounting to business management, MCM has transformed over the years from a CPA firm to a business solutions and advising firm with a full range of services for businesses and organizations large and small. MCM offers expertise in accounting, audit and tax-related services, as well as risk advisory, tax services and technology solutions. Its expanded services include business valuation, litigation support, fraud examination, and business start-up and advisory services. MCM’s brand lines also include MCM Capital Markets Group, MCM HR Solutions and MCM Technology Solutions.
The firm has helped its clients navigate the pandemic.
“With employees going remote and now returning back to the office for at least some of the time, cybersecurity has become a significant challenge as the threats continue to evolve with our changing workplaces,” said Brad Smith, MCM managing partner. “The MCM Technology Solutions team has been working with teams in assessing vulnerabilities and proactively helping mitigate the identified risks.”
MCM was recently ranked by Inside Public Accounting’s Top 100 list as the 72nd largest accounting firm in the United States (based on net revenue), and has been awarded Best Places to Work distinctions in multiple states and cities.
Marketing, IT and other business services
Central Kentucky has a unique mix of software and technology companies, marketing agencies and other solutions providers that serve companies of all specialties and sizes.
In today’s business world, rapidly changing technology—and circumstances—requires IT experts to help companies stay on top of their game.
Central Kentucky’s IT managed service providers include SIS, The AME Group (formerly called Integrity IT), NetGain Technologies, Intelligent IT, SimplifIT, Unified Technologies, Next Century Technologies and TeamLogic IT, among others. MCM and Dean Dorton also offer a full range of cybersecurity services.
Coastal Cloud, an IT service management company headquartered in Florida, operates a regional headquarters in Louisville and has offices in Lexington. The Louisville location houses the company’s first domestic solution center, where almost a quarter of Coastal Cloud’s team is stationed.
Coastal Cloud offers expertise in program management, project execution, business analysis, data modeling, data migration, user training and the skills necessary for a successful migration to next-generation technologies.
In September 2021, Coastal Cloud entered into a partnership with the City of Lexington, University of Kentucky and Commerce Lexington to create a new UK Salesforce Consultancy Incubator Program. Through the partnership, Coastal Cloud will train students, recent college graduates and new or aspiring Salesforce administrators to become effective Salesforce consultants.
Marketing firms help Central Kentucky businesses tell their stories via multiple platforms.
Bringing In The Green is a specialty firm located in Lexington that helps small- to medium-sized businesses generate revenue, offering customizable marketing and sales solutions. Owned by marketing and sales veteran Debbie Green, the company offers media planning and buying, promotional planning, targeted creative messaging strategies, event planning, media sales training and public relations services.
“We provide strategic marketing consulting that drives results. We create customized marketing plans based on client goals,” Green said.
“We help business owners who need marketing direction but are not ready to hire full-time, overloaded marketing and communication directors needing guidance with special projects, and marketing directors who do not have traditional or digital media buying experience.”
Bringing In The Green’s goal is to make marketing easier by making data-driven decisions and utilizing increased sales as the ultimate success benchmark.
Over the past year, Bringing in The Green has added several new clients who no longer have time to coordinate marketing efforts, meet with vendors, and direct website updates and social media strategies.
“They hire my company to reduce stress and make growing their business fun again,” Green said.
On the move
An eco-friendly furniture and junk recycling and removal service for residences and businesses opened in Central Kentucky in September 2021.
Junkluggers is on a mission to make Kentucky a little greener and eliminate 100% of re-usable waste from landfills by the year 2025. Franchise owners Christine and her son, Cooper Van Tatenhove, have always been passionate about the community and environment in the Bluegrass.
Junkluggers hauls away unwanted clothing, furniture, appliances and e-waste. Their expert luggers handle all the heavy lifting and transportation, recycling as many items as possible.
The owners also hope to make a positive impact on local nonprofits, with which they will share some of the gently used items they recover that need a second home.
“It’s all about helping community and working hand-in-hand with our philanthropic partners, taking away items and then giving back to those who need it,” said Chris Van Tatenhove. “This is all while reducing waste by recycling and keeping items out of landfills.”
Barney Miller’s has been a staple in downtown Lexington for nearly 100 years. It started as an auto parts store and transitioned to selling radios and record players. In the 1940s, Barney and second-generation Harry Miller sold the first TV in Kentucky. Over the years, third-generation Barney Miller guided the company away from a purely retail format into an installation company. Barney Miller’s is continually evolving. Today the company designs, installs, programs and services electronic systems for homes and businesses, including home theater, stereo systems, smart homes, networks, security, camera systems, AV furniture and seating, conference rooms, training rooms, huddle spaces and motorized shades.
“Over the past year, we have experienced unprecedented growth in custom electronic system upgrades for existing homes and new construction installations,” said owner Barney Miller, whose grandfather started the business. “Additionally, we’ve installed numerous easy-to-operate conference rooms and huddle spaces for businesses.”
Lexington firm 46 Solutions offers managed IT services, cybersecurity and audio/video integration. It also specializes in home entertainment technology and operates a large showroom—featuring home theater, outdoor audio/visual options, smart home and automation products, and TVs and projectors—in Lexington Green.
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