Location: Eau Claire County, WI
Industry: Information Technology
Scott Hoffmann was associate No. 1 at WIN Technology. He was hired by a group of rural telephone companies that banded together to create a unique rural-based fiber optic network.
In the early years, WIN Technology was a small Wisconsin regional fiber optic backhaul provider and struggled as a startup in the middle of the dot-com bubble bust. With a dwindling bank account balance and no additional investor proceeds available, the company’s shareholders considered closing the company, and some wrote off their investment altogether.
The company was forced to lay off staff, and Hoffmann was charged with maintaining the organization with minimal expenditures and finding new revenue. Through hard work, long hours and a focus on customer service, the company earned new revenue and eventually turned profitable. A few years later, Hoffmann was able to hire back some of the original team.
By 2014, WIN Technology had established itself as a top regional fiber optic network, and it has continued on its growth trajectory ever since. Between 2016 and 2018, the company’s associate count jumped from 55 to 134. Today, WIN Technology is still owned by 31 Wisconsin-based independent telephone companies, yet the company has grown its fiber network to more than 15,000 miles across the Upper Midwest, diversified into managed and professional IT services and developed a webcasting platform and other businesses and service lines.
As the company grew, Hoffmann struggled to make the transition to a more hands-off approach in his role as CEO.
“I found I had trouble letting go of daily business activities,” he said. “There were moments of strong pushback from very capable staff asking me to trust them to do the job they were hired to do. The shift from working in the business to working on the business was personally difficult, yet I understood this shift was necessary for our continued success. I learned (that) if I hired good people, trusted and supported them, that far more could be accomplished, and it would be executed better than I could do it myself.”
WIN Technology has received numerous awards, including 2022 Business Best 25 and Leader of Community Change from the United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley, 2021 Business of the Year from the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, 2021 Community Development Award from the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, 2021 Paragon Economic Impact Award from the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation, and 2021 Proven Business Partner Award from Chippewa Valley Technical College.
“Virtually all the successes of WIN Technology over its 20-plus year history could be attributed to Scott Hoffmann and his leadership, but he would never take the credit,” Hoffmann’s team said. “Scott is a leader who likes to share in successes and takes the responsibility for shortcomings.”
Scott has long been a generous contributor of his time and resources to many organizations throughout the Eau Claire Area. Currently, he is the Chairman of the Board for the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, President of the Chippewa Valley Technical College Foundation Board, and for over 20 years been a lead organizer and volunteer for the Chippewa Valley AYSO Soccer League, including 13 as the Region Commissioner. Scott also coaches girls varsity soccer at Eau Claire Regis High School.