ClearView Business Solutions has a unique story. From delivering his first demos out of the trailer attached to his Toyota Camry, to leading a multi-million dollar company, founder and president Matt Lane has grown ClearView into a go-to regional provider of office equipment solutions. The document solutions company now boasts 16 employees, and operates out of a 5,000-square-foot-plus facility.
Lane didn’t have it easy when he started the company.
“The point in my life I was at was really a type of intentional sink-or-swim moment ” he said. “Personally, I felt like I just really needed a new challenge and wanted to make an impact in the industry.”
Professionally, Lane had been working for a direct manufacturer’s branch in Greenville, North Carolina, specializing in growing net new business. After visiting his sister and longtime friend (her husband) in Florida, he sought to carve out a niche for himself in Tampa Bay’s office equipment industry. Lane and his friend joined forces to start a small business.
Lane isn’t the first in his family to have done so. His father started an electrical contracting business in Beverly Hills, Florida.
“I’ve got that entrepreneurial drive and I’m carrying the torch in that regard,” he said.
In ClearView’s early days in 2014, Lane split his work and time between Crystal River, Florida, his car, his business partner’s garage and a home office in Pasco County.
While experiencing his fair share of challenges as an early-stage entrepreneur, he reminded himself of the reasons that he started a company in the first place.
“I really wanted to be able to control the customer service experience, and the team that was servicing and supporting my customers. I wanted to be able to handpick them, I wanted to be able to train them, I wanted to be able to put my own processes in place to provide a level of service that I could build a great company around,” he said.
Like many entrepreneurs, Lane faced a common initial challenge: startup capital. He remembers losing $75 on his first sale. Along with making money, Lane had to make some foundational connections, despite ClearView’s relative anonymity at the time in an already oversaturated, hyper-competitive space. All told, he found it extremely challenging to raise brand awareness in a region with far more reputable and better-established companies. Without the resources of a larger company, Lane “had to learn to be extremely resourceful on all levels.”
ClearView overcame its initial challenges to form some key initial partnerships with banks, distributors and leasing companies. These partnerships allowed the young company to compete with larger competitors. Along the way, ClearView secured some well-known accounts to bolster its brand and regional visibility.
In many ways, the company’s early successes served as validation of Lane’s efforts and redoubled his motivation to continue.
Over the past five years, ClearView has grown in ways that serve as a blueprint for future growth. The company looks to replicate its dramatic gains in revenue, employees and resources.
After starting in a garage, ClearView then rented a medical office, before leasing its own office. Now, it operates out of an over 5,000-square-foot facility outside of downtown Tampa with a large warehouse and plenty of room for expansion.
Perhaps most tellingly, the company has grown in revenue by 30 percent over the last year, and is slated to exceed $3 million in revenue this year.
“We’ve grown to offer a full line of hardware and solutions,” Lane said. “So we’re full-line now, from multifunction copiers and printers, to wide format plotters, to different software applications that are industry- and process-specific.”
ClearView’s work has not gone unnoticed. In 2018 and 2019, the company was one of only three companies statewide to be named a Toshiba ProMasters Elite Certified Dealer. Toshiba’s ProMasters Elite Certification program specifically recognizes authorized Toshiba resellers for providing exceptional service, training and customer support.
The company has also received increasing recognition from GreatAmerica Financial Services, which after initially naming ClearView a Rising Star in 2014, has since presented the company with its Premiere Dealer award in 2015 and 2016, its Dealer of Distinction award in 2017 and its Prestige Partner award in 2018.
ENX Magazine named ClearView Business Solutions an Elite Dealer in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
While ClearView has grown into a premier provider in the document solutions industry, it sets itself apart from its competitors through its mission to educate and inform consumers so they can choose the best document solution for themselves. Whereas some brands might focus on self-promotion, ClearView focuses on educating the marketplace with innovative, industry-specific knowledge and trends.
Lane’s company ClearView Business Solutions does that “not just here in Tampa, but also globally with the content we’re producing,” he said. “If it helps someone in the Midwest, then that’s great. I think the industry as a whole will benefit from a shift in consumer knowledge, where consumers become more informed. We want to be at the forefront of that shift in information.”
In the future, Lane wants to continue to grow his company, before eventually retiring and helping other entrepreneurs. In the meantime, Lane plans for ClearView to continue to inform consumers, and to expand its operations nationwide. Franchising might be in the company’s future too.
To learn more about ClearView, visit the “About” section of its website.