Firm Offers A Broad Tech Program

November 8, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The computer technology training business in this community has been intensely competitive — until fairly recently, that is.

Currently, Daryl Kingrey said that aside from a miscellany of courses that area colleges and some private entities offer, the local office of New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Michigan is pretty much alone in what it offers businesses and individual enrollees.

Kingrey is the vice president and general manager for the area New Horizons operation, recently relocated in a new 17,500-square-foot facility in the Cascade Commons complex at 5315 28th Street Court.

New Horizons, a national firm (Nasdaq: NEWH), has five other Michigan offices: Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Troy, Kalamazoo and its headquarters in Livonia.

With a local client list including Alticor and Meijer Inc., along with many smaller companies, Kingrey explained that New Horizons instructs employees in everything from desktop basics to how to develop in-house programming architecture.

"Right now there's a big surge on the developer side with Microsoft.net," Kingrey said.

"The more advanced level of the languages allows a lot more flexibility, so people are developing their own solutions." Pushing the demand for company-tailored solutions, he added, is the increasing use of wireless technology, especially in sales.

"A lot of the dot-net training is on the enterprise side," he added, "but then more and more small to medium-sized operations are going into their own development."

In the past, he said, many firms contracted with outside parties for development work.

"But now more companies are bringing that in-house as the technology allows," he said. "They find it more cost-effective now to have resources in-house because of the demand and the number of programmers there are in the market."

And that process, Kingrey said, has added a new dimension to New Horizons' work.

"What happens is that a lot of these people are getting promoted from within a department and then must lead those departments."

So that brings them back to New Horizons for what one might call geek polishing.

"They come back to get some leadership reinforcement training, time management training, and to work on their presentation skills. So we're able to not only enhance their product knowledge and job knowledge," he said, "but also their leadership and management skills."

That continuum in the curriculum, he said, turns on the lights at New Horizons at 7 a.m. and keeps them on until 10 p.m. Average class size is 10, though two of the new facility's rooms can accommodate 24 people.

The office's 10 classrooms and instructors are busy all day, while yet other classes are meeting in clients' classroom space.

"In our time in West Michigan, we've experienced tremendous growth and success with our students," Kingrey said.

"With the current economy and imposed business cutbacks, improved and increased productivity is paramount. New Horizons provides the education, direct training and ongoing resources to make employees as competitive as possible."

He said New Horizons operates a combination of traditional instructor-led classroom training and e-learning programs.

Students in New Horizons' onsite classes are also afforded access to a variety of complementary content accessed via the company's ONLINE Anytime module for e-learning.

New Horizons' client base focuses on both career training for individual students as well as technical instruction for larger corporations.

"We have a night track for career changers," Kingrey said. "There's a help desk support track and some baseline tech tracks — mostly Microsoft engineer tracks and Microsoft network administration tracks along with COMPTIA."

He said New Horizons is certified through the Project Management Institute to prepare students for Project Management professional examinations, either for IT-specific certificates, or PMI's all-project management program.

"There's always competition," he said of New Horizons. "Desk top is being offered by the community colleges and continuing ed departments. And a lot of the integrators now are doing technical training.

"But the Productivity Point office in Grand Rapids shut down a year and a half ago, and ExecuTrain now has been out of Michigan going on three years, so we have no national competitors based in Michigan.

"The last few years have been rough on the industry," he told the Business Journal.

"In order to survive you've got to run a tight business and watch your expenses and have a business model that fits into the economic environment that you have."

New Horizons has more than 50 instructors in Michigan, with 300 class offerings and 54 classrooms. The firm has been in operation in Michigan for a decade.

The company bills itself as the world's largest independent IT training company, delivering approximately three million student-training days per year.

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