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Couple Makes Tech Consulting Firm Big Part of Lives

Arnie and Sherri Friedman so enjoy running their business CPI Solutions Inc. that not even vacations give them a break. Although the couple makes more time for leisure travel than they did 10 years ago, e-mails and cell phones keep them in contact with the Camarillo-based company. Even their boat in Santa Barbara is equipped with an office. “We love what we do and when you love what you do you don’t try to purposely keep business out of your personal life or personal life out of your business life,” Arnie Friedman said. “It’s part of our life,” Sherri Friedman added. “It’s something we want to do.” The dedication the Friedmans give to their technology consulting company has paid off with an increase in business and revenues. In 2005, CPI Solutions had revenues of $12.5 million, a jump over the $5 million in revenues recorded for 2003. Projections for the coming fiscal year are for revenues of $25 million, Arnie Friedman said. Finding a company After years of working for other companies, including Xerox, Memorex and Santa Barbara-based CMC, Friedman was ready to take on a new job provided that it met his criteria of cutting back business trips, commuting and wearing a suit and tie every day. Enter CPI, a company up for sale then located in Westlake Village that built and designed personal computers. “It was the nucleus I needed that I could capitalize on and grow,” Arnie Friedman said. Sherri Friedman, who had sold real estate for a couple years, said she expected to only be with CPI Solutions temporarily as she helped get the administrative side of the business organized and to enter inventory. But 16 years later, she is still with the company and shares a big office with her husband. Sherri still oversees the administration while Arnie concentrates on day-to-day operations and sales. “I’ll ask him for help and he may have me do something but it’s not like we are in each other’s faces,” Sherri Friedman said. “It works out great.” Key to their working relationship is sharing a similar work ethic, Arnie Friedman said. “We both emulate the attitude we’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done,” he added. CPI Solutions’ success Arnie Friedman claims the company is among the most dominant in the field can be seen as an example of adapting to changing market conditions. When CPI’s hardware customers began to go elsewhere for their needs, the company refocused on consulting services first concentrating in the areas of security, infrastructure and IP telephony. In the past three years, the company has expanded into web applications and development, storage and customer relations management solutions. High-profile partners CPI Solution partners include Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Siebel. “We no longer call the people we do business with customers; we call them clients,” Arnie Friedman said. “We’ve adjusted to a professional services model. We’re all about solutions and whether what the client is doing makes sense for their business.” That expansion had an unintended consequence of adding another Friedman to the CPI payroll when it acquired Edistrict, the company where son Jamie worked in web development. The younger Friedman now works in the sales department for CPI and reports to the vice president of sales, a junior partner in the company. “He aspires to do bigger and better things with the company,” his father said. “He’s a pretty talented kid so it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.” Overall, Arnie Friedman expects bigger and better things for CPI Solutions, housed in a 12,000-square foot building for its 45 employees. As the economy has strengthened, local companies are spending more money especially on technology in order to remain competitive, Arnie Friedman said. As those companies spend more, that in turn has CPI investing more on its side to keep up as well, he added.

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