With fast-growing software firm Perforce, CEO Janet Dryer is running her second company to land on the Star Tribune’s Top Workplaces list.
Dryer, 56, was the third employee more than 30 years ago at HelpSystems, which the sales and marketing professional ran for many years as CEO before “retiring” in 2014.
About a year later, Dryer agreed to come out of retirement at the urging of an associate at private equity firm Summit Partners, a former owner of HelpSystems, who wanted her to run then-small, San Francisco-based Perforce.
Dryer agreed, with the condition that the headquarters move to Minneapolis.
In the three years under Dryer, Perforce — which ranks No. 50 on the Star Tribune Top Workplaces list of small businesses — has grown to more than 220 employees and expects to be at 300 by the end of the year.
Dryer on June 20 announced that longtime lieutenant Mark Ties will succeed her as CEO. Dryer will continue as chair of the board.
Ties, 53, has been with Perforce as chief operating officer and chief financial officer since January 2016. In that time, the company nearly doubled its revenue. The success helped attract an offer from Perforce’s current majority owner, Clearlake Capital, which acquired Perforce in January.
“There is absolutely no one better equipped to continue leading Perforce on its upward trajectory,” said Dryer. “I have worked closely with Mark over the last decade, teaming up on over 20 acquisitions. In these past few years at Perforce, we’ve been daily collaborators, and I truly look forward to seeing him succeed in this new capacity.”
Dryer’s leadership style hasn’t changed much over the years.
She said recently if she is good at anything, it’s hiring good people. She also is known for connecting with line employees, celebrating small and large sales and other accomplishments, and constructive, supportive criticism.
She’s driven to succeed, but prefers success as a team endeavor.
“Janet has brought over many of the values she established at HelpSystems, including the saying “Happy Employees Make Happy Customers,’ ” said Colleen Kulhanek, Perforce’s marketing vice president who also came from HelpSystems.
“A focus on the customer is really important to everyone here,” she said. “We build technology that is used by some of the greatest tech companies in the world. Game developers, medical devices, defense companies and self-driving cars. This is a huge draw for recruiting technologists.”
Kulhanek and Dryer said there is little room for big egos at Perforce.
When the company succeeds, everyone is rewarded, not just the top sales professionals and the CEO.
“I believe that our open communications on company goals and results, and then sharing in the success, keeps employees engaged,” Kulhanek said. “Everyone is given objectives and measured against those objectives. The visibility allows employees to see how they contribute to the company’s success.”
Emily McGrath, 26, who works in sales operations for Perforce, said there is “good transparency” at the company, from objectives to expectations and financial goals and results.
“There also is an opportunity for growth. I can learn here and challenge myself. I’m intrinsically motivated. Culture-wise,” she said, “the company celebrates us.”
The company helps employees reach goals, she said, and “credits us” with the milestone.
“Janet always checks on people. She says ‘nice job’ over completed projects,” McGrath said. “She’s very appreciative. She has the pulse of how things are going.”
Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144