CEO: David McLaughlin (D Magazine)

Columbia Advisory Group might only be two-and-a-half years old, but the information-technology consulting firm has already worked with more than 300 tech organizations and IT departments. Credit for much of that goes to David McLaughlin, the firm’s 50-year-old founder, and CEO. After co-founding MetaSolv Software during the 1990s tech boom—MetaSolv was sold to Oracle in 2006 for $219 million—the native Texan spent the next few years leading consulting practices for various companies. Eventually, he got together with a group of friends to launch Columbia Advisory Group in 2012. McLaughlin is also a philanthropist, serving as a non-medical board member for the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Foundation. Whether in business with his employees and clients or in his charitable endeavors, he says his biggest impulse is helping people and propelling them toward success. 

First Job

Working for a greenskeeper at a golf course. We weren’t directly supervised, so we had to get things done on our own. 

Current Company Culture

The people who work here are very independent-minded. Even the most junior people need minimal direction and are very self-motivated.

Management Style

I try to do and show the things that I need people to do; let them see that, and then find their own way and own style of doing it.

Success Strategies

The most important thing for our company is to continue to grow and cultivate our future leaders. You have to have the technical background and the communication skills to continue to bring people along. 

LessonsLearned

The things that don’t seem like a great career move or a great career choice can end up being the most fun and interesting things you do. 

Other Careers Considered Careers

I was going to be a military pilot! 

Strengths

My ability to maintain some level of calm whenever everything else is in chaos. I think I’m generally an optimistic and kind person, too. 

Weakness

I think a lot of us technology folks are generally pretty impatient, and it’s something I have to work on. I want things done yesterday. 

Motivation

Solving problems for companies, for investors, making people successful.

Biggest Challenge

Training and bringing along the next generation of senior people. It’s just a different paradigm. 

Family

My wife and I have been married for 20 years and we had one son; he was special needs, and he passed away about 7 years ago. He was sick for many years. It was a huge challenge. 

Best Advice

My dad wasn’t a big fan of quitting anything. Once you commit to something, you stay with it. It seems pretty simple, but it comes into play every day. 

Just For Fun

My wife and I like the outdoors and we hike the mountains with our two Boston Terriers, Chili, and Taco.

Columbia Advisory Group Featured in Dallas Business Journal

Dallas Business Journal – Texas A&M has negotiated a master professional services contract that allows the system’s universities to use Columbia Advisory Group’s services to help lower the cost of tracking student information, including applications, financial aid and other student data.

“CAG has an excellent track record in this field, including keeping costs within budget,” said Mark Stone, Chief Information Officer of Texas A&M. “We will be able to improve services and compliance while also reducing our overall spend.”

Stone estimated that the cost of tracking student information, on average, could be reduced by 30 percent.

Columbia creates and provides detailed IT analysis and solutions to deliver better financial visibility, identify and mitigate risks, and improve performance. The industries representative of its clients include higher education, health care and pharmacy, private equity and venture capital, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, as well as media and publishing. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of its work is in higher education, 10 to 15 percent in the private equity/venture capital sector, and the remainder in health care and manufacturing.

As an information technology consulting firm, it is software and hardware agnostic. Based in Dallas, the 100-employee firm works with clients throughout the United States.

David McLaughlin, president and CEO of Columbia, spoke with the Dallas Business Journal about its company philosophy:

What is your company’s growth strategy?

Our DNA comes from working primarily out of the private equity sector and venture capital sector, several of us have worked in that sector for a lot of years with companies and organizations that are fast growth. I think a lot of our growth will continue to be in the private equity and venture capital sector, where we are working with them on acquiring companies and helping them approve operations on existing companies they are invested in, but it also has translated well for us into several other sectors that are growing rapidly, including higher education.

Our ability to assist organizations with not only IT performance but with compliance and also with cost savings and management — getting the most out of what they invest.

Similarly, the cost of health care is important but so is compliance and the ability for technology to perform so that organizations can be more efficient. There is a lot of growth in those areas.

Is your approach the same irrespective of the sector?

From a technology standpoint similar things are important. Most IT and technology organizations have a lot of similarities. Everyone uses networks, email, most of them have financials.

Probably 60 to 70 percent of IT and technology groups are similar. And, there are some things that are specific to that industry that you have to know. But a lot of it is about fundamentals, if you can get the technology fundamentals right, there are quite a few sectors that those fundamentals apply to.

What are some of the big issues you’ve seen in security?

Security is a very hot topic across the different industries that we work in. A big component is fundamentals, if people do the things their technology groups ask them to do — changing passwords appropriately, using the right types of passwords. Trying to avoid clicking on things they really should avoid. There will always be technologically sophisticated attacks, those are getting more prominent, but a lot of the security issues people have are very basic.

Columbia Advisory Group Selected by The Texas A&M University System to Improve Cost Effectiveness and Compliance of Student Information Systems

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) has been selected by The Texas A&M University System (TAMUS) with the goal of significantly lowering the operating cost of delivering Student Information System services while also providing enhanced support of audit and compliance functions.

“Our substantial experience with student information systems at several TAMUS campuses, as well as our ability to improve audit and security performance helped us win the opportunity to provide these services for all members,” said David McLaughlin, President and CEO of CAG. “We’ve built an outstanding team and operating model that gets results. We look forward to making that standard available to all TAMUS members.”

The Texas A&M University System negotiated a master professional services contract that allows the System’s universities to use CAG services to help lower the cost of tracking student information, including applications, financial aid and other student data.

“CAG has an excellent track record in this field, including keeping costs within budget,” said Mark Stone, Chief Information Officer, Texas A&M University System. “We will be able to improve services and compliance while also reducing our overall spend.”

Stone estimated that the cost of tracking student information, on average, could be reduced by 30 percent.

CAG works with its clients to create and provide detailed IT analysis and solutions. CAG’s IT assessment and due diligence services provide better financial visibility, identify and mitigate IT risks, and improve IT performance results. The company is known for working with difficult and demanding IT problems in a variety of economic, regulatory and budgetary environments. The industries representative of their clients include higher education, healthcare and pharmacy, private equity and venture capital, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, as well as media and publishing.

Columbia Advisory Group Experienced Record Growth in 2015

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) recently announced highlights from another record growth year in 2015. CAG grew more than 50 percent from 2014, a rate it has exceeded in each of the previous three years. CAG also added many new clients in the higher education, health care and financial services sectors.
“We are truly excited by the momentum of our company and the passion our employees have for making each customer successful,” said David McLaughlin, President and CEO of CAG. “We have a strategic focus to deliver the best solutions to our clients by providing detailed and insightful IT analysis, offering best-in-class managed services, and providing the right expertise to help our clients achieve their objectives.”

To support increasing client demand, CAG has appointed two senior executives – Lindsay Boykin as Director of Business Development and David Maxwell as Director of the company’s Information Security Practice. Boykin and Maxwell collectively have more than 50 years of experience guiding companies. CAG added employees in Houston and San Antonio, Texas as well as Atlanta, Georgia. All of whom are collocated with clients for on-site support and consulting.
“Our employees are incredibly focused on helping our customers improve their IT and business functions, and it shows in the tremendous growth we experienced in 2015,” stated McLaughlin. “I am extremely optimistic about our 2016 growth and welcoming new clients across the U.S.”
CAG works with its clients to create and provide detailed IT analysis and solutions. CAG’s IT assessment and due diligence services provide better visibility into IT spend, IT risks and their mitigation and improve IT performance results. The company is known for working with difficult and demanding IT problems in a variety of economic, regulatory and budgetary environments. The industries representative of their clients include higher education, health care and pharmacy, private equity and venture capital, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, as well as media and publishing.

About Columbia Advisory Group:

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a dynamic Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. An established and proven company with 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful and practical solutions combined with straight-forward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. CAG not only offers a deep understanding of IT, but its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that business. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.columbiaadvisory.com.

Columbia Advisory Group Endows Scholarship to University

Texas A&M University-Commerce would like to thank Columbia Advisory Group for committing to provide a $30,000 scholarship endowment for deserving students.

“We’ve become very impressed over the last few years with Texas A&M University-Commerce and wanted to help support the school however we could,” said David McLaughlin, president of Columbia Advisory Group.

Columbia Advisory Group is an information technology consulting firm that handles IT support for the university and assists A&M-Commerce Chief Information Officer Tim Murphy with decisions regarding processes and strategic planning.

“Columbia Advisory Group was most gracious when we approached them about establishing a scholarship endowment at A&M-Commerce,” said Vice President of Advancement Randy VanDeven. “Their generous commitment demonstrates their passion to support higher education and what better way to make an impact than by helping students with the costs of acquiring an education.”

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Columbia Advisory Group Appoints Director of Business Development

DALLAS–(BUSINESS WIRE) — Columbia Advisory Group (CAG), a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm, announced today that Lindsay Boykin has joined the firm as Director of Business Development to further develop their growing portfolio of regional and national accounts.

Lindsay joins CAG to continue the company’s recent successes providing IT management and consulting services in a variety of industries including: financial services, higher education, manufacturing, energy, technology and media, and healthcare. He commented, “I am excited to start a new challenge with CAG and look forward to working with the team to further develop their already extensive services and capabilities. I am fortunate to be joining such a respected company that prides itself on top quality customer service.”

David McLaughlin, president and CEO, said, “Lindsay’s wealth of experience and knowledge has already made him a key addition to the CAG family. We view his hiring as a sign of our commitment to being the leading company in our industry. Our increasing demand from customers led us to look for a professional to join our team who fit in with our ethos of innovation and exceptional service, and it is very fortunate that we were able to find someone of Lindsay’s caliber to fulfill this role.”

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. An established and proven company with 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful and practical solutions combined with straight-forward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. CAG not only offers a deep understanding of IT, but its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that business. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.columbiaadvisory.com. The company can be found and followed on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Columbia Advisory Group Helped its Private Equity and Venture Capital Clients Deploy More Than $300M in 2014

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG), a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm, assisted its private equity and venture capital clients deploy more than $300M in capital by providing IT due diligence services during 2014. These deals included early stage venture capital investments, complex divestitures from publicly traded companies, and middle market manufacturing acquisitions.

“In the private equity space, we are unmatched in our due diligence expertise,” said Vice-President,CAG. “Many companies may claim to be proficient with IT due diligence; however, they also focus on accounting and finance, among others. Columbia Advisory Group is highly specialized and only focuses its due diligence efforts on IT.”

Wingate Partners, a Dallas based private equity firm, recently closed several new investments with CAG’s help. Brian Steinbrueck, Principal of Wingate Partners stated, “Columbia Advisory Group is our ‘go to’ technology partner because they combine a deep expertise in all IT related matters with a thorough knowledge of the business and transaction dynamics. They consistently delivered thorough analysis and insightful recommendations under aggressive timelines, which supported us in closing multiple acquisitions in 2014. We look forward to working with them again.”

Jeanne M. Sullivan, Special Advisor and Co-Founder of StarVest Partners commented, “I have worked with the management team at Columbia Advisory Group for many years. I know we can rely on them to offer sound advice and proven ideas for our IT due diligence. Their skills and hard work recently helped us quickly and smoothly close multiple transactions. I trust the team at CAG to give us solid insights about processes, tech resources and platform audits.”

“IT can be one of the largest overhead components of a company so how it works and what should or should not be invested in technology can significantly impact valuation and company performance. IT due diligence for Private Equity and Venture sponsors can be complex. Experienced judgment is necessary to ensure that our conclusions are thorough, that we maintain our best practices, and that we provide an independent point of view,” said David McLaughlin, President and CEO of CAG.

CAG works with its clients to create and provide detailed IT analysis and solutions. CAG’s IT due diligence services provide EBITDA visibility, identify and mitigate IT risks, and minimize investment thesis execution risk. The company is known for working with difficult and demanding IT problems in a variety of economic, regulatory and budgetary environments. The industries representative of their clients include private equity and venture capital, higher education, non-profit, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, healthcare and pharmacy, as well as media and publishing.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. An established and proven company with 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful and practical solutions combined with straight-forward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. CAG not only offers a deep understanding of IT, but its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that business. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.columbiaadvisory.com.

About Wingate Partners:
Wingate has a 27 year track record of purchasing controlling equity interests in companies with opportunity for substantial value creation from both improved operating performance and strategic changes. Wingate’s professionals bring substantial senior-level operating and strategic experience in addition to extensive careers in acquiring companies. www.wingatepartners.com

About StarVest Partners:
The team of StarVest Partners believes that we have a differentiated positioning in the venture capital community and a targeted investment strategy that allows StarVest to stand out among its competitors in sourcing unique opportunities and supplying capital to outstanding businesses. www.starvestpartners.com

Columbia Advisory Group Partners with Recruit Military to Improve Technical Infrastructure; Improving User Experience and Ease-of-use

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG), a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm, successfully partnered with RecruitMilitary, a veteran-owned firm dedicated to helping military veterans achieve long term success though education, training and jobs. By assisting with the IT strategy and optimizing the management of RecruitMilitary’s technology functions including website, ecommerce engine and infrastructure, among others, CAG’s team of experts enables RecruitMilitary to focus on delivering excellent service and value to their clients.

As part of the buy-side IT due diligence, CAG recommended and developed a long-term IT optimization plan for RecruitMilitary, the leading online and digital solution for companies seeking to hire military veterans. Following completion of the successful assessment and acquisition of RecruitMilitary, the majority of IT operations were outsourced to CAG including improvement and maintenance of the company’s IT infrastructure and a core database of more than 726,000 veterans seeking employment.

“The CAG team did a great job of keeping our site and business up and running while improving our technical infrastructure. Keeping our data fresh, organized and secure is critical to serving the needs of companies and veterans; we count on CAG to do it right every time,” said Peter A. Gudmundsson, CEO of RecruitMilitary. “We have a sophisticated website that is the heart of our business. It is the engine for employers and military veterans to connect with one another. They rely on us for their livelihood, and we wouldn’t trust them to anyone other than CAG.”

“Recruit Military has done an excellent job of helping employers attract and retain high quality military veteran talent. We were very pleased to be selected to help them achieve greater success for the companies and veterans they serve,” said David McLaughlin, President and CEO of CAG. “We want to make it easy for our clients to understand and evaluate their IT options. For RecruitMilitary, we offered practical advice and a long-term solution for their IT needs that stayed within their budget. We look forward to many years of providing them with superior IT service.”

CAG works with its clients to create and provide simple, long-term solutions for difficult and demanding IT problems in a variety of economic, regulatory and budgetary environments. The industries representative of their clients include private equity firms, institutions of higher learning, non-profits, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, healthcare and pharmacy, as well as media and publishing businesses.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. An established and proven company with 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful and practical solutions combined with straight-forward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. CAG not only offers a deep understanding of IT, but its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that business. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.columbiaadvisory.com.

About RecruitMilitary:
RecruitMilitary helps organizations excel by leveraging the talent of our nation’s finest people, our veterans. Founded in 1998, the company produces over 100 all-veteran job fairs nationwide, giving tens of thousands of veterans an opportunity to interact with leading employers and other organizations. In addition, the company offers the largest and most complete database of veteran talent, with more than 726,000 members.

Columbia Advisory Group Expands Operations With Move to New Headquarters

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG), a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm, announces its relocation to 17950 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75252. The move was brokered by CAG client, Avison Young. The cost-effective, efficient, flexible office space allows CAG to add more resources and capabilities, but remain lean.

“This is an important move for CAG and our clients. It ensures our steady, long-term growth while remaining committed to investing in and maintaining the best technology to achieve maximum [ROI] results for our clients,” said David McLaughlin, President and CEO of CAG. “This move is a real tribute to the talent of our people, who have an exceptional ability to work with clients in a variety of environments. Our dedication to excellence, combined with delivering outstanding client service, has earned our firm the stellar reputation it enjoys today.”

CAG works with its clients to create and provide simple, long-term solutions for difficult and demanding IT problems in a variety of economic, regulatory and budgetary environments. The industries representative of their clients include private equity firms, institutions of higher learning, non-profits, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, healthcare and pharmacy, as well as media and publishing businesses.

Answering the strong demand for CAG’s IT strategy, managed services and technology staffing services, the new headquarters offers a unique 3200-square-foot facility which is designed to promote employee productivity. It will feature private office suites, a collaborative working environment and conference rooms in a space with distinctive architecture and progressive design elements. CAG will be able to preserve capital and keep overhead to a minimum, while focusing on enhancing their clients’ IT services.

“CAG’s new headquarters extends Avison Young’s heritage of delivering extraordinary office space and solutions to businesses of all size,” said James Engels of Avison Young. “We’re happy to lend our strategic planning service to CAG to facilitate their cost effective and creative Dallas headquarters.”

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. An established and proven company with 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful and practical solutions combined with straight-forward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. CAG not only offers a deep understanding of IT, but its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that business. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.columbiaadvisory.com.