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DRS ribbon cutting draws visit by Lt. Governor

South Boston News
State and local officials join DRS representatives for the ribbon cutting. / December 12, 2018

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax traveled to Clarksville on Friday for a ribbon cutting at DRS, the data processing company located at the Lake Country Industrial Park off Noblin Farm Road.

The company, which has operated at the Clarksville site for 15 years, was celebrating its new affiliation with HiGro Group LLC, a private equity investment firm that invests in business and technology services companies. DRS provides business process outsourcing and document technology services solutions to more than 800 corporate, financial, education, government, law enforcement, and healthcare clients across America.

Nick Jean-Baptiste, co-founder and principal of HiGro, called the ribbon cutting “a great celebration of what this business [DRS] can do locally,” while Fairfax called it “a banner day” because of the company’s commitment to bringing new jobs to the area.

With nearly 40 employees at the industrial park, DRS already is one of the largest employers in the Clarksville area.

DRS opened in Clarksville in 2003, after operating in Ahoskie, N.C. for five years. Almost immediately, the business was operating around the clock, with a staff of 125 employees. At the time, Cliff Newman, CEO of DRS, said his business model was based on two core principals: hire the best and brightest talent in the industry and secondly, listen to the needs of his customers.

His philosophy remains the same today, though the number or people working in Clarksville dwindled over time, until it plateaued at its current level.

“We attribute our longevity to the support of our customers and partnerships with local business and government leaders. We look forward to the continued growth of our relationships in the coming years,” Newman said.

“HiGro partnered with DRS in order to grow more than our bottom line; we remain very proud of DRS’s history of affecting positive change for families. The Clarksville location is a prime example of empowering the community where DRS employees live and work,” Jean-Baptiste said.

Jean-Baptiste said DRS’s objective is to double the number of employees at the Clarksville facility — one of seven offices where DRS operates — over the next 12-24 months as they focus on building business opportunities for the company across Virginia.

He said the partnership of local and state business and community leaders will be a critical aspect of the strategy to make Clarksville and Mecklenburg County a hub for DRS. This is the first step in growing DRS’s workforce.

“The amount of work we produce locally is really small, and that’s unnecessary given that we handle documents for hospitals nationwide. How do we work together as a team to do this [grow the business]?” Jean-Baptiste asked rhetorically before answering: “Focus on upward mobility for our employees. Our goal is to hire and promote from within.”

Jean-Baptiste said Newman’s emphasis on his employees was a key reason HiGro invested in the company. He particularly liked that Newman sees his employees “as the most important people” in the business.”

“It is an inspirational view of who we can be when we work together,” Fairfax noted in emphasizing why he chose to attend Friday’s ribbon cutting.

“This is a special occasion. It signifies and represents a very powerful and impactful commitment to this community. It’s not just about dollars and cents, although people are going to make more money, have more economic mobility, but it really truly is about family.

“Our vision [of Fairfax and Gov. Ralph Northam] is to have [jobs] impact all areas of Virginia and that we all rise together. And this project here, is one that really makes firm that commitment.”

DRS began in 1964 as a small microfilm service bureau in New York City. Over the next 55 years, it grew to its present state as one of the largest independent information processing service corporations within the United States. Today, DRS employs nearly 200 workers in seven offices in Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Virginia.

They provide document imaging, ECM and microfilming, cloud repository services, and perform onsite scanning. DRS is also an authorized reseller for various data technology software programs.

Based in New York, The HiGro Group is minority owned and controlled. The HiGro Group says it enlists its investor base of ultra-high net worth individuals and family offices to structure and invest in traditional buy-outs of well-established companies with potential for high growth.

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