Small changes, in the eyes of Mason Smith, can produce significant impacts over time. As the president and CEO of MTS Office Systems in Anderson, South Carolina, this can range from customer service tweaks to employee benefits enhancements and alterations that enhance internal efficiency.
Still, Smith’s journey to the industry involved some fairly significant alterations from a career approach standpoint. After all, the Furman University graduate had once considered law school, but after taking a few courses, Smith realized it wasn’t for him. He also toiled as a baseball pitcher in the Washington Nationals organization following a successful career with the Furman U. Paladins. However, he found pitching offers to dealer clients a more lucrative proposition.
“I am very competitive, so my drive is the desire to be the best,” said Smith, a 2022 ENX Magazine Difference Maker. “At MTS, we strive to build a company that is respected in the community and has a recognizable impact on our clients’ businesses.”
Following his 2008 stint with the Nationals, Smith spent 10-plus years with G5, rising to vice president of sales. Following the dealer’s 2017 acquisition by Xerox’s Global Imaging Systems, Smith decided he wanted to helm the manager’s seat, so to speak, and debuted MTS in August of 2019. Smith had long admired the success of a family friend, Kal Kardous of Charlotte Data Copy, and saw a potentially prosperous future as a dealer executive. That MTS was able to register 35% growth during 2021 is an indication of the potential that lies ahead for Smith.
Communication, rather than a breaking ball, has helped produce the desired results. When challenges arise, Smith has found it best to rectify it as early as possible.
“I think good leaders are all good communicators,” he said. “We utilize a leadership council at MTS and this helps tremendously with discussing all aspects of business. Some of it is strictly for organization, but a lot of times, we will get into further discussions on ideas that our team has and we want to cultivate a culture where all good thoughts and ideas can be expressed.”
Smith’s development at G5 was greatly supported by that company’s original owner, Gary Gerack, as well as team members Michael Conklin and Justin Wagner, both of whom now work for MTS. Gerack would devise client-nurturing ideas such as hiring an ice cream truck to provide summer treats, which turned into a dynamic marketing tool. In fact, Smith borrowed many of the traits employed by G5 in areas such as prompt service, local billing and support, and live telephone support.
“We had a unique culture that built up employees and allowed them to grow within the organization,” Smith related. “We always supported each other and were constantly discussing deals we were working on, and the best ways to approach a situation. We all had fun.”
Unfortunately, Gerack became ill, which necessitated the sale of G5. This proved a pivotal turning point for Smith, who had become comfortable there and loved the work environment. The changes made by the new regime were subtle at first but quickly took a negative turn. At a quarterly meeting, it was announced that the entire admin staff would be let go over the next few months, impacting employees who had been with the firm for 10-plus years.
Smith, who had been discussing purchasing MTS from owner/founder Alex Martin, called Martin from the hotel lobby following the meeting. “I was fully committed to making the acquisition happen,” Smith said. “I am thankful for that moment because it was the push that I needed to truly go after what I wanted. I made the move a month or two later and have never looked back.”
During 2021, Smith continued to concentrate on knocking off to-do items from a list he had created upon taking over MTS. Now, three years into his administration, the list has dwindled significantly, but that won’t be the end of his quest for continuous improvement.
Financial goals, however, are not a focus; Smith is of the belief that by taking care of clients and doing the right things on a daily basis, the financials will take care of themselves. Growth is certainly in the cards, as he believes MTS’ markets offer abundant opportunities. That is further evidenced by the company’s new location in upstate South Carolina.
“We continue to look for ways to impact the lives of employees and our clients,” he notes, adding that he has onboarded several new team members who have offered additional ideas for growth and improvement. Smith and his wife, Stefanie, will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary in July. They have a 7-year-old daughter, Abigail, and a labradoodle named Charlie. The family recently moved to a new home and is working on a few projects to make it feel cozy. When not at the beach (Kiawah Island is their favorite haunt), the Smiths enjoy traveling to new destinations. Smith’s favorite pastime is golf and he enjoys playing in competitive events.