Veteran software technologist Dale Klein concedes that the last 12 years at his Parallel Technologies, particularly during the Great Recession years, were not all fun and games.
For one thing, it couldn’t quickly become the software-integration outfit that he envisioned.
“I had to shift my strategy to survive and grow,” recalled Klein, 51, a local pioneer in using software to mine data that help manage so-called intelligent buildings. “It was a painful challenge at times.”
A decade ago at Parallel, which serviced data centers, Klein wanted to move the then-$4.5 million-a-year business more into software and services that harvested and integrated data in order to automate building management, from climate control to building-and-computer security.
However, data center owners generally weren’t ready to turn over the data and management back then.
So, Klein’s company mostly stuck to wiring data centers and ancillary services.
“During the recession we kept doing the cable work in data centers, because, despite the recession, the amount of data continued to grow.”
Today, Eden Prairie-based Parallel Technologies is more fully realizing Klein’s vision, posting annual revenue of about $40 million, thanks to 120 engineers, software jockeys and other employees.
The company bills itself as a “single-source provider of complete solutions for reliable data centers and [other] intelligent buildings.”
In June, Klein broadened and deepened the business through the acquisition of Omaha-based Building Systems Solutions, an 11-employee building-control-and energy-management outfit.
The purchase price was not disclosed.
Omaha is home to many data centers, thanks to a relatively moderate climate and low energy prices.
And adding Building Systems Solutions to the fold allows Parallel Tech to broaden its portfolio in managing heating-and-cooling systems, building-controls and more.
“The key to designing a truly intelligent building solution requires a thorough understanding of myriad components that constitute building infrastructure such as HVAC, network, security, controls and automation and communications,” Klein said. “Through this acquisition, Parallel Technologies is positioned to lead in comprehensive solutions.”
Klein said Building Systems Solutions, founded in 2009, has worked with companies from the U.S. Foods, to Omaha Public Power District to Zurich Insurance and the U.S. Coast Guard.
It installs equipment made by the likes of Siemens, Honeywell, Johnson Control and Trane.
Meanwhile, Parallel Tech has established itself as one of the Twin Cities’ fastest-growing companies in the recent years, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal annual survey.
And Klein and Parallel Tech are in the sweet spot in the fast-emerging field of running everything from the lights to building security with customized, integrated software packages.
“We’re driving energy sustainability, efficiency, reliability, safety and security,” Klein said. “We decided to [first] focus our intelligent building strategy on data centers, using our consulting approach and engineers. Now, building managers are getting more familiar with what we do, thanks to iPhones. And intelligent building management is coming more into play in the marketplace.
“And it’s still a horribly fragmented market. Architects, contractors, HVAC providers. And now we’ve acquired a building-automation company and 10 engineers. My end goal is to bundle all [our capability] for building clients; data centers and others.”
Klein’s entrepreneurial journey started, more or less, when his Javelin Solutions software firm was gobbled up in 2002 by Texas-based consultant Perficient.
Klein hung around for a couple of years before launching his own thing through his acquisition of Parallel Tech.
Klein believes he can double the size of the company over the next decade by focusing partly on “mission-critical” complexes.
That category includes hospitals, power plants and other 24-hour facilities that “will invest in the most contemporary infrastructure and data analytics.”
The Parallel team broke early one afternoon last week to celebrate employee anniversaries over beer and snacks.
Klein said a key part of his strategy is retaining valued employees by sharing progress, financial success and recognition.
When he bought Parallel Tech in 2005, it was a St. Louis Park-based telecom-services firm.
It’s been quite a ride to $40 million in revenue with 120 employees cruising the software-spectrum highway.