January 28, 2013 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
As a leading provider of Online Career Centers and Career-Related Services to Associations with a SaaS Model, Boxwood is delivering High-Quality Products and Services that Generate Non-Dues Revenue with Low Associated Fixed Costs
Boxwood Technology is the leading provider of online career centers and career-related services to associations. With an exclusive focus on associations, Boxwood provides an industry-leading technology platform for the delivery of their products and services. The Boxwood product suite includes a job board, career learning centers, coaching, mentoring, resume writing, online profile development and career fairs, among others. Driven by a culture of innovation, Boxwood has delivered many firsts to the industry including a mobile-optimized version of the career center, integration to online learning platforms and a career center Facebook application. By understanding how education, careers and social media intersect Boxwood is uniquely able to help associations deliver valuable resources to their members. Boxwood has offices in Hunt Valley, MD and Herndon, VA.
Online Career Centers
11350 McCormick Road, Suite 101
Hunt Valley, MD 21031
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – January 28, 2013
CEOCFO: Mr. Bell, would you tell us the concept of Boxwood?
Mr. Bell: Boxwood is at its core a SaaS model. We have a suite of products that we license to our client base, which is the nonprofit association community. We are also a Business Services Provider, offering resources to manage a range of business applications including direct sales, ecommerce and call centers. We even help our association clients with collateral material for marketing in both print and online publications. In summary, Boxwood is a combination SaaS model with business services as an added value.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the nonprofit market and what are some of the unique challenges they have which you are able to address?
Mr. Bell: The nonprofit sector is a very large segment of the economy. There are more than 100,000 associations currently in operation and thousands of new organizations launched each year. They range from small volunteer groups to huge international non-profits. Boxwood has a prospect list of about 23,000 entities in our target market, which represents occupational specialties in most every industry with members from entry-level professionals to C-suite corporate leaders. The association industry boasts well over 100 million members, but their reach into the workforce is far greater.
Associations are a shovel-ready resource for workforce training and education, credentialing, licensure and other programming for life-long learning and to advance one’s career. For example, the career centers that we provide to associations essentially operate, not only as a job search tool, but as a resource for effective career self-management at every stage of a person’s career.
Finally, associations are nonprofits with a CEO or executive director at the helm. These association leaders typically report to an engaged board of directors, requiring a collaborative decision-making process. Associations are also member centric; individually they are focused on very specific communities rather than across a broad spectrum of the workforce. Put all of that together, serving the non-profit market is very different from working in the for-profit/commercial marketplace.
CEOCFO: Your website indicates, “Boxwood has helped associations generate more than $350 million in non-dues revenues.” What kinds of services do you provide which allows for this?
Our flagship application is a job board where employers, recruiting specific
talent through the association, post job ads for a fee. Job posting fees
account for a large portion of the non-dues revenue generated by our
clients. Members can also tap into a range of other Boxwood provided
products and services for advancing their career, such as, mentoring
systems, career fairs, career self-management content and digital learning
programming. Our career centers also present tools and tips to engaged
members, such as: resume writing, and "how to" material for interviewing,
job performance reviews and career advancement negotiation, to name a few.
Boxwood also supports our clients success with a host of "behind the scenes" services. We assist our clients with marketing strategy and support, including collateral material for print and online use. We assist with SEO, and SEM campaigns. Our telemarketing department sells directly for our associations, generating millions of dollars in revenue annually, boosting clients' market share. Boxwood’s Product Planning Group is continually identifying ways that Boxwood can help our clients compete and our Technology Team maintains an intense on-going product development tempo to ensure our products are state of the art.
CEOCFO: What are some of your more unusual offerings?
Mr. Bell: Identifying and choosing which association job board to use is a daunting and costly task for employers. Boxwood solves this problem by organizing association communities into job board networks to share relevant job postings and job seeker traffic, and to make it easier for employers to post their job ads. Employers simply post their job ad on any participating association's job board and our Job Distribution System automatically distributes the job posting across the network to the relevant association career center sites at a single network job posting rate.
More than half of Boxwood clients participate in at least one network. Currently, we support networks for healthcare, engineering and sciences, veterinary medicine, the legal profession, finance, sports, marketing and sales just to name a few. An example is our healthcare network, the National Healthcare Career Network. The network is a growing collaboration of almost 300 healthcare associations representing communities in nursing, physicians, allied health, operations, academia, research and executives. By solving the employer's challenge of identifying which association job boards to utilize, our association job board networks are able to make the right connections between employers and talent.
CEOCFO: Is there much competition for you?
Mr. Bell: There is always competition. However, the association space is unique and totally unlike the for-profit sector so it takes a very different corporate culture to be able to partner successfully with associations. Competition comes and goes and there are organizations that do the same sorts of thing that Boxwood does, but of course we think we have the competitive advantage.
CEOCFO: Why is Boxwood the best choice?
Mr. Bell: First, Boxwood is not in the job board business, and our products and services are uniquely designed for associations. Boxwood’s client relationship is truly a partnership. Most other job board platform providers operate their own commercial job boards, and are often competitors with their association clients. Most engaged associations understand the pitfalls of this type of affinity relationship. Boxwood’s standard business model manages day-to-day career center operations for our clients, while operating totally as a private labeled service. There is not even a "Powered by Boxwood" graphic on our clients' career center sites.
Second, our clients retain exclusive control and ownership of their data. This is core to our value proposition. We hold to the principle, that exclusive ownership of business and member data is an important key to association long-term relevance. Most competitors, in part, partner with associations to help sustain their own commercial job board business by transferring association data ownership to their commercial businesses. This use of association brands and data helps commercial job board platform operators sustain their own job board businesses.
Third, our association job board network collaborations are a big attraction for many associations. Participating in a Boxwood network helps an association gain critical content mass to support service relevance and gain market share to boost revenue.
Fourth, our clients generate significant non-dues revenue and net income. Revenue is always important, but for an association, non-dues revenue contributions are invested back into other core member services, which is paramount to sustaining relevance in these rapidly changing times.
Finally, our business model and practices are so admired in the association industry, the American Society of Association Executives; (the association of associations) endorses Boxwood as the "Best of Breed" provider for online career related product and services.
CEOCFO: What has surprised you most as you have developed the company?
Mr. Bell: The exciting thing about our work is the ever-changing marketplace. We invest quite a bit every year in technology, and watching our clients’ adoption of new platform applications and services have been very gratifying. People have sometimes characterized associations as slow to take on new ideas, but from my perspective, many are clearly thought leaders. For example, the industry has been very proactive in their adoption of social media. Being member centric and community minded associations have leveraged the power of social communities more quickly than other organizations. Their use of social media is getting more sophisticated by the day, and it is gratifying to see that. This has driven Boxwood to also embrace social media integration and other technology platforms such as mobile in our product offerings. Associations understand that they need to adopt these new products and services to stay relevant in their communities. So, while they may sometimes be a bit cautious about introducing new business practices, they are coming around and getting more aggressive in the market place and that portends well for the future.
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Mr. Bell: Business is good. Our clients are experiencing a resurgence of job ad sales, and trends are continuing to improve with each quarter. Boxwood is steadily adding new associations to our client roster. And through increased promotion, our association clients are getting more widely known as viable, easy to access, recruitment resources for highly quality talent. Together, we are poised to capture even greater market share.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about the recent agreement with HealthStream, and is that a typical agreement for you?
Mr. Bell: Our partnership with Healthstream is very important. Boxwood’s role is to assist in connecting healthcare associations with Healthstream for the delivery of digital courseware, and to design system integrations to benefit individual users and their employers. By this definition, our agreement is typical to Boxwood. However, what this relationship will do for the healthcare sector and for healthcare associations is far from typical.
HealthStream is by far the leading provider of online digital education to hospitals and healthcare providers. With over 50% market share and 100,000 courses completed daily, they are a formidable force in the healthcare education marketplace. For their part, healthcare associations have education courseware in high-demand across the healthcare sector. The coming together of Boxwood’s technology platform, HealthStream’s reach into digital courseware delivery and healthcare associations’ education content, will provide online learning to even more healthcare workers, which supports The National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Healthcare.
CEOCFO: Why should the business and investment community pay attention to Boxwood?
Mr. Bell: Boxwood is a successful and scalable company with both SaaS and service business lines. Over the last decade, the company has earned respect of the association industry as a thought-leader, bringing cutting-edge technology and innovative business strategies to the association community and the industries they serve. Given the size of the association market place and the on-going demand for non-dues revenues, Boxwood is well positioned to continue to deliver high-quality products and services that generate non-dues revenue with low associated fixed costs. Boxwood’s focus in the association space and our ability to deliver solutions has earned us a reputation for excellence, and gives us a durable competitive advantage today and into the future.
“Boxwood is a successful and scalable company with both SaaS and service business lines. Given the size of the association market place and the on-going demand for non-dues revenues, Boxwood is well positioned to continue to deliver high-quality products and services that generate non-dues revenue with low associated fixed costs. Boxwood’s focus in the association space and our ability to deliver solutions has earned us a reputation for excellence, and gives us a durable competitive advantage today and into the future.”- John Bell
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