For Newton Consulting, apple doesn’t fall far from tree

For Claysville’s Newton Consulting, the apple doesn’t fall far from tree

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This Newtonian Theory is contrary to conventional corporate wisdom.

Rick Newton, president and founder of Newton Consulting, LLC, has a successful business that has outgrown its headquarters – a carriage house adjacent to his East Finley Township home.

Logic dictated that he relocate to Southpointe or Pittsburgh, a large venue near a large population with large potential.

Newton, however, considered the gravity of the situation and stayed local.

“This is an expression Toni likes to use,” he said, nodding to Toni Kellar, marketing and corporate communications director of his firm. “She says, ‘You bloom where you’re planted.’ Well, I’m planted in Claysville, so I’ll bloom here.”

Newton Consulting – which provides consulting services for business strategy, information technology and human resources management – has been replanted into an old warehouse at the eastern end of Main Street (Route 40). It moved there about a month ago, into a two-story brick building that Newton purchased last December and is still renovating inside and out.

Upstairs, the offices are mostly completed and fully operational; the ground floor is being rebuilt for possible lease; and detailing has to be done to the refurbished facade.

Newton has about 5,000 square feet on each floor, compared with 1,300 inside the carriage house.

“We took an eyesore and are making it into something beautiful,” Newton, 49, said proudly of the revival of the former Fisch Precision Tools Inc. building, where local contractors are doing most of the renovations.

He is now cutting out a career of his choosing. A 1981 McGuffey High School graduate, Newton had wanted to operate his own business since his undergraduate days at Grove City College. It took awhile, though.

After earning dual degrees in computer science and chemical engineering, he interned at IBM in Atlanta, then was a consultant for Arthur Andersen, ran the IT department at Black Box Corp. in Lawrence and worked for the former Solutions Consulting, founded in Washington County by Mark Miller.

Growing from Claysville

Newton Consulting was incorporated March 3, 2003 – “three, three, three,” he pointed out – and started operating in 2004. The company has, indeed, bloomed, its greatest surge incredibly occurring during this harsh recession.

From 2009 through 2012, Newton Consulting has more than doubled its workforce (33 employees to 73); nearly doubled its client base (26 to 47); and raised its revenue from $8.5 million to a projected $20.2 million this year.

The company also opened an office in London in 2011 and in Canada in 2012.

Regional and national organizations have recognized this expansion. The Pittsburgh Business Times has named Newton Consulting one of Pittsburgh’s Top 100 companies in terms of growth and Inc. magazine has designated it one of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation.

The firm also has been selected Best Service Provider by the Pittsburgh Technology Council, and honored as a Best Place to Work, among small companies, by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Business Times.

And its headquarters are in Claysville? Population 829?

Newton said he once inquired about leasing office space at Southpointe, but ultimately decided “to invest in my own property with the carriage house. I didn’t want to saddle my company with that overhead. If we have low overhead, we can pass the savings to our customers.”

Also, the nature of his business – consulting – does not require employees to be in the office all of the time, or much of the time. Kellar frequently works at home near Cambridge, Ohio, and commutes to Claysville two or three times weekly.

So a large HQ is not necessary. Having one in Claysville, in his mind, is.

“This is a great place to raise a family,” said Newton, father of five and grandfather of two, whose wife, Terrie, handles the interior design of his offices. “Little downtown Claysville has 20 businesses and it has everything – post office, hardware store, attorneys, bank….

“This also is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. It’s in the DNA here. So many people want to start businesses.”

Newton has shifted his endeavor 3 miles from that carriage house, which sits on the 10-acre family property. The Main Street building was constructed in the 1980s but is being refurbished on the outside to replicate an 1880s style that would fit in with the town’s historic nature. A glass sign, which will likely be encased in brick and set in the ground near the entrance, is being designed.

His home and new HQ aren’t Newton’s only real estate pursuits in town. He is a member of the Claysville Area Preservation and Revitalization Initiative (CAPRI), and strives to do what he can to boost the borough. He and his wife have purchased two other Main Street buildings for use by others.

One is a house that had been owned for many years by the Hensel family. Newton is leasing it to Terri Yetter and her daughter, Lindsay Crile, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of the last Hensels to reside there. Yetter and Crile remodeled and, in May, opened the Main Street Cafe, which features a varied menu and a cozy atmosphere augmented by Hensel family photos adorning the walls. Newton plans to eventually sell the building to mother and daughter.

He also bought the former Maggi’s News Stand, where the McGuffey Food Pantry – now in the American Legion – will move in the spring. Apartments also are planned.

For Newton, the area is idyllic. He doesn’t have to go big city, big headquarters, big population.

“Our address will always be Claysville, Pa.,” Newton said. “Some people say we should get a Pittsburgh mailbox. I don’t want that. I say, ‘Let’s put Claysville on the map.’”

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