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5 questions with MS Companies’ Pete Butler

Even from a young age, Pete Butler always had an entrepreneurial spirit.

The earliest evidence dates to his junior year at Indiana University, when he founded his own advertising/promotions business. Several other ventures followed in the arenas of trucking, logistics and home furnishings until 1999, when Butler launched MS Companies, a data-driven technology provider of support services, staffing and solutions for the automotive and manufacturing industries.

I was first involved as an investor, which gave me the opportunity to experience the company’s potential firsthand,” he said. “I then began working within the company and evolved it into what it is today.”

Butler’s main responsibilities involve moving the company forward in line with its global strategy, while fostering positive relationships and building trust with employees and clients.

The world of technology is, and always has been, a primary area of interest for Butler.

“I’ve been interested in technology my whole life — especially with the rise of the computer — and have always been focused on understanding how commerce can be enabled by technology throughout my career,” he said.

Today, MS Companies employs about 10,000 people and supports more than 600 clients in 14 states. Butler thinks the Indianapolis community remains ripe for startups like his own.

“Indianapolis is an ideal market given the track record of successful companies like ExactTarget, as well as the city’s abundance of young talent and great area universities,” he said. “I also love to see all of the co-working spaces and business incubators that have launched all over Central Indiana, such as DeveloperTown and Launch Fishers. It’s apparent that Indianapolis’ appeal is no longer a secret outside of the state, and it’ll be great to see how the city continues to progress to support the growth of the tech community.”

Question: What does the word “leader” mean to you?

A: “For me, it’s all about being a servant to others, whether they’re your employees, colleagues or teammates.”

Q: What are the best and worst parts of your job?

A: “There’s nothing more rewarding than providing employment and opportunities for career development. And, while it might sound corny, there are no negative aspects of my job. I welcome the challenges, and I know I have a great team in place who will rise to the occasion.”

Q: What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned through the course of your career?     

A: “In my experience, it’s been surprising to learn that business processes can, in fact, be simple. They’re often just overcomplicated due to resistance to change or the continual addition of unnecessary steps and layers.”

Q: Do you have a personal business philosophy you try to follow?

A: “I always challenge myself and those I work alongside to become professional listeners and, in turn, to be expert communicators.”

Q: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

A: “I was once told to never act like I knew something if I didn’t have the knowledge. Instead, I should go to the appropriate sources with questions so I could benefit from the expertise of others rather than trying to do everything on my own.”

More about Pete Butler

Job title: CEO and founder of MS Companies.

Education: Indiana University.

Prior employment: Financial services and investor.

Family: Married with four children.

Favorite pastimes: Reading and golf.

Favorite musical artists: U2.

Favorite quote: “Focus will equal reality.”

Pete Butler