Ronald Curry and Steve Jones have been friends since middle school. Both graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and stayed in touch when they went to different colleges.
After graduating and spending time in the corporate world, both knew they wanted a change.
“I actually read an article in the paper about recycling toner cartridges,” Jones said. “It was kind of interesting because laser printers were brand new. We were both seeing them show up at our job. We decided to try something different.”
Founding Neo Technologies Inc. in 1990, the Baltimore-based company focuses on a variety of office needs including selling and servicing network and graphic printers such as Hewlett Packard, Brother, Lexmark and Xerox. They also offer content management solutions such as document management.
“What we like to say in the arena of document management is we help our clients be able to find their documents from any time and anywhere and also provide a secure environment to host their document,” Jones said.
Their document management service has helped the company get through the COVID-19 pandemic as many offices closed during lockdown efforts thus leaving in-house printers unused. The pair note one of the challenges they face is having others see them for their additional services — not just supplies and hardware. “We pride ourselves (on our ability) to be able to transition with the change in times,” Jones said.
The company has turned to social media to get the word out that it offers electronic content management services including document archival and retrieval services.
Curry notes one of the company’s biggest successes was a three-month project with Xerox in late 2019. They helped the printing giant install about 900 devices in the Prince George’s County Public Schools system by providing analyst support and training.
Over the years, the company has earned government contracts at the local, state and federal level. For those thinking about getting into the field, Curry suggests companies must make sure they have the correct infrastructure in place as well as good financials before submitting a proposal bid.
“The federal contracts are a great opportunity if you have the amount of time and manpower to go after them,” Jones added. He does caution that some have time limits as to how long a company may participate.
“When you have those types of contracts, take full advantage of them,” Curry added. “You have to put people in place to actually market to those agencies. If you don’t, you may not realize your full potential.”
Curry most enjoys the family-friendly environment their company offers internally as well as the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people working with clients.
Jones finds personal satisfaction in his work by setting a goal, aiming and then achieving it. “I would say the biggest joy is building a business,” he said. “We wanted to stay in Baltimore City. We wanted to employ city residents and we have been very successful with both of those.”
Many of their clients come through referrals. “People know we do a good job,” Jones said. “Anybody can sell a Xerox copier. … People can buy toner from anywhere now, but relationships are still key. I think our clients appreciate the fact that when they call the office, they hear voices that they heard the last time they called. We definitely try to nurture our relationships with our clients.”
Jones understands what a blessing it is to be in business for more than 30 years including surviving the 2008 Great Recession as well last year’s COVID restrictions.
Curry believes their story of two friends making a lasting business and still getting along 30 plus years later is a great success story. “I think that has got to be an anomaly in this day and time,” he said.
“Our wives call each other the other wives,” Jones adds.
“We like to say we’ve been with each other longer than we have been with our wives,” Curry jokes.
This article is featured in the 2021 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.