Chelsey Bode officially became the sole owner of Springfield, Missouri-based Pearson-Kelly Technology on Sept. 30 after 10 years of succession planning.
While Bode’s been the primary partner in charge of day-to-day operations since 2011, she made the final buyout of her father, Mike Kelly, to formalize the transition of power this week. According to Bode, “This has always been the plan. It’s just been in the last five years or so, though, that we’ve gotten serious about the when.”
One of Pearson-Kelly’s core values is transparency. As such, they’ve never shied away from having conversations about their succession plans with employees or clients.
Bode says it’s actually provided comfort and clarity to individuals looking to partner with the growing company. This transition, for her, means, “we’re following through and doing what we’ve always said we would.”
Lee Flood, executive vice president at Pearson-Kelly Technology, noted that Bode’s resolve helped convince him to make the dealer his career desintation.
“Seven years ago, I sat at Chelsey’s kitchen table with her and Mike and asked, ‘how do I know this is going to last?’” Flood recalled. “Because I was at a competitor and wasn’t about to jump ship if I was walking into another situation like I was planning to leave. She said, ‘This is my long-term plan.’ That’s why I’m here now.”
A Female Owner in a Male-Dominated Industry
This transition is a step forward for Pearson-Kelly Technology and for a predominantly male-owned industry. Despite women making up over 50 percent of the workforce, only 25 percent of computer and technology-related jobs are held by women. And that percentage has been declining since the 1980s.
Bode’s new role as owner places her in a prime position to build up female leaders within and outside Pearson-Kelly Technology. Since she began to accumulate shares in 2011, Bode has worked to foster an inclusive culture. Pearson-Kelly’s leadership team has continually curated 40-50 percent female leaders from 30 percent female staff overall.
“It has been amazing to watch Chelsey grow in her leadership roles and support other women leaders along the way,” said Michelle Contrell, broker/team owner at Murney Associates LLC. “I, personally, have had the pleasure of collaborating with her on business and people development on several occasions.”
Not only does Bode build female leaders within Pearson-Kelly, but she also co-founded and co-chairs a national peer group of technology companies that discuss best practices and industry innovations. She sits on another board for a technology association, where she is one of only four sole female owners among 64 tech organizations.
What this Means for PKT’s Future
As sole owner, Bode shifts more into her role as visionary – creating and designing the long-term vision and goals for Pearson-Kelly Technology – and relinquishes some of her day-to-day responsibilities to her executive vice president and integrator (Flood) and the rest of her leadership team.
This transition makes that process easier, she says, because she feels she can take more risks now that it doesn’t jeopardize what her dad worked for. “Before, I sometimes felt guilty for taking risks or really trying to grow the company because I knew it would be a long-term investment,” she said.
“Years ago, Mike put everything on the line to build PKT and wisely had faith in Chelsey to co-pilot it through years of growth,” said Dustin West, operations manager at Modern Motorcars. “Mike and Chelsey have amazing entrepreneurial spirits and an honest appreciation for the PKT team and their clients. The future of PKT is very bright!”
Day-to-day operations will not change. The Pearson-Kelly team continues to focus on its core mission: to simplify technology for small and medium-sized businesses.
Kelly continues as an employee of Pearson-Kelly Technology, focusing on business development. The duo accomplished their first mission in building a successful technology company together and now set their sights on conquering their next. Still as a duo, just defined differently.
About Chelsey Bode
Chelsey Bode joined Pearson-Kelly Technology in 2007 as its sixth employee. She is a GO Magazine 2009 20 Under 30 Honoree, a Cannata Report 2018 Young Influencer, a Springfield Business Journal 2018 Most Influential Woman, an ENX Magazine 2018 Industry Difference Maker, a Springfield Business Journal 2020 Trusted Adviser, a Biz 417 Magazine 2020 10 for the Next 10 and a TigerPaw 2021 Channel Influencer.
She has also been featured in the Smarketing Show, ENX Magazine, the Cannata Report, BPO Media, GreatAmerica Financial Services and Industry Analysts.
Bode donates her time to several local boards including the Good Samaritan Boys Ranch, US Bank and the Institutional Review Board for BioKinetics. She also sits on advisory boards for industry organizations and groups like Connectwise, ACDI, Intermedia and Copier Dealer Association (CDA).