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Entrepreneur’s strategy is to keep jobs ‘In-Shore’

JOHNSTOWN — By the year 2015, American companies will have moved an estimated 3.3 million jobs and $136 billion in wages to offshore destinations such as India, China and Russia, according to Forrester Research, a global research and advisory firm.
The largest percentage of jobs being outsourced – more than one in four – is in information technology (IT).

“Thus, the name In-Shore Technologies,” explained Mike Stohon, president and CEO of the Johnstown IT consulting firm of the same name.

Stohon was managing technical support for a large computer company in 2004 when his employer proposed relocating his team to India or Canada.

“Although I recognized that we live in a global economy and the world has to compete with itself, I thought there were ways to deliver some services in areas of the United States, such as rural markets, which might be less expensive than Manhattan or Chicago.”

Although the idea failed to resonate with Stohon’s employer, he was inspired to test his strategy with a business venture of his own. Stohon was born and raised in New Jersey, and his great-grandfather immigrated to the United States from Poland. He settled in Portage and raised a family as a coal miner. Stohon remembered visiting the area as a child.

“I wanted to create a company in an area where it really meant something to create jobs,” Stohon said.

“So we literally took everything we owned, all of our life savings, and moved to Johnstown to do it.”

Nearly a decade later, In-Shore Technologies has 40 employees in Johns­town, Altoona and a new office in Bridgewater, N.J.

The company headquarters occupies 8,800 square feet on two floors of a once-idle building on Main Street in downtown Johnstown.

In-Shore provides IT consulting and support, PC support and network engineering for a combination of education, government, industry and for-profit and nonprofit businesses, not only regionally but in five surrounding states.

“We are so blessed with the regional support that we have from companies that have us under contract, but nothing makes me happier than to say there is money coming into our region that did not exist before that is helping us fuel jobs here,” Stohon explained.

Stohon has also learned to say no.

“Early on, I always joke, I would’ve mowed your lawn if you would’ve written the check to In-Shore.

“Now, as I’ve gotten a little wiser, I’ve realized I need to narrow my focus to the things that we’re extremely talented at and that we do very well and find out how to increase revenue based on that.”

His advice to would-be entrepreneurs is three-pronged: Be open-minded to the fact that you don’t know everything, surround yourself with really smart people and imagine the blood, sweat and tears that you think it will take to be successful and multiply that by a thousand.

While Stohon will be the first to tell you that starting a business was the most stressful thing he has ever done, he added it has been unbelievably rewarding, seeing employees he hired settling down, building homes and raising families.

He credited those and other staff members for In-Shore’s ongoing success.

“No doubt in my mind,” he said. “I have worked in some of the biggest markets that the world has to offer, and I have never seen people work as hard as they do around here.”