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At first glance, Ruthann Black’s IT company seems a bit out of the ordinary.

Black Consulting Services Incorporated (BlackCSI) consists of two different-looking divisions—an IT consulting division, which manages IT projects, business processes and organizational performance improvement, and a specialty electrical division, which performs design and installation of IT infrastructure for data, voice, access control and CCTV video surveillance systems.

“To most people, our two divisions don’t make a lot of sense,” explained Black. “They don’t seem to have much to do with each other, besides the fact that I have a background in both areas.”

But in addition to being a natural outgrowth of previous client successes, the two divisions of BlackCSI are like symmetrical branches of a large tree – their weight provides balance to withstand alternating patterns of wind and weather while also growing out in opposite directions to get sunlight at various angles throughout the year.

In fact, the dual functions of BlackCSI IT consulting services and BlackCSI IT infrastructure solutions are actually the reason behind the incredible success of the enterprise. “What we have found is that those two divisions complement each other. When one is strong, the other tends to slow down a bit. With the way the economy has been over the last few years, for instance, the specialty electrical division was slow because people weren’t spending money on capital assets,” said Black. “But our consulting really grew because people were spending money on technology that could make them more efficient. And now, as we’re starting to come out of the recession, we’re really seeing that specialty electrical division coming back because people now have to upgrade their infrastructure to be able to support the new technologies they’ve implemented!”

When Black started the company in 2002, she was on her own. She’d had years of experience as a project manager for IBM, and her expertise and connections in the field landed her a big client immediately. But as more work rolled in, she found herself with the need—and the means—to hire more people. “Today we have 20 people, and each person contributes to the success of the business,” she said. In fact, BlackCSI has been recognized as one of central Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing businesses.

And they’re still expanding. “Most of our business right now is in the Central Pennsylvania area, but we are starting to branch out,” said Black, adding that they’re exploring the possibility of becoming a national distributor of specialty electrical products.

But this president will never forget the lessons she has learned as a small business owner in a tight-knit neighborhood. “Ours is a really small community…and if you mess up, so to speak, everybody knows about it!” she said. “What I’ve found with my clients is that when you make a mistake, if you’re honest about it and you try to grow beyond it, typically your customers will be right there with you. But if you don’t admit you’ve made a mistake, in my opinion, that’s a disaster. Credibility and honesty are very important for us in order to continue to be recommended and sought after by clients.”

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