Close this search box.
Close this search box.

How a Mid-Market CEO Is Using the Cloud to Make a Once Dying Business Thrive

Suri Suriyakumar took a print shop—a dying industry—and repositioned it to focus on the only thriving niche left—architecture, which requires the printing of as many of 10,000 drawings per project. After buying several more small shops, ARC Document Solutions, Suriyakumar’s new business, is now a $407-million architectural documents provider with 2,500 employees. And as technology becomes integral to all business today, Suriyakumar is now reinventing his business again, with the digitization of architectural drawings into the cloud.

We sat down with Suriyakumar of ARC Document Solutions to talk about his transformational business experience.

For anyone considering moving a portion of your business to the cloud but aren’t sure what the benefits are or how to go about it, perhaps Suriyakumar’s experience may help answer some of your questions.

“The cloud is substantially reducing ARC Document Solutions’ costs.”

Q: Why are you going digital?

A: “Architectural drawings get changed at every turn; hundreds or even thousands of changes have to be communicated to everyone. There are 200 different trades that may have to come together. If you take a stadium or a large office complex, you could have as many as 1,000 original drawings, or 2,500 for a big ballpark. The drawings have to come together for a building to come together.

“An intermediate digital step was to make changes to drawings on the web, but then you had to notify everyone via email. So the cloud is the perfect way to transform communications in the construction space. When someone makes a change now in a drawing, they only need to post it on the web. And it takes hours for everyone to be clued in instead of weeks.”

Q: How were you able to calculate a projected return on the shift?

A: “We already had invested in the technology. As years went by, we realized we had to have a better way of storing documents, so we had software developed that would store, manage and distribute documents digitally—not on the cloud but via servers. We spent something like $100 million or more on the software over 10 years. And now we’re converting it to the cloud in-house in an ongoing process that costs several million dollars more.”

Q: What type of metrics are you able to track, and will your customers be able to track their own metrics?

A: “It’s purely based on time and efficiency, and the cloud substantially reduces the costs. Because we did this before using paper as a medium, we have a base to figure out over a period of time how what we do has changed. We still handle and distribute and manage and store documents; we haven’t changed what we do, just how we do it.”

Q: How long will it take ARC to recoup the cost of the technology/installation move to the cloud?

A: “We have already begun to recuperate our technology investments. Our recent study (June, 2015) revealed 72% of AEC professionals believe technology will have the biggest impact on the future of North America Construction, and 93% of AEC professionals believe increases in productivity and decreases in cost are related to new technology tools.”

Q: You haven’t terminated employees for several years  as a result of your acquisitions. Will digitization change that?

A: “In 2008, we built the company to $750-million-plus and had a footprint and customer base of 160,000. Then came the financial crash and Great Recession. Our business was down 45%, to $400 million, and we had to downsize from nearly 6,000 people to 2,400 people. We had to shed the weight at that time because we didn’t need all the capacity. The downturn forced us to restructure our organization purely to survive.

“Now, however, we can continue to grow because software is more scalable. We go where our customers go, and that has included a lot of international places lately, including London, China, Hong Kong, India and Australia. But almost all of our information is in English.”



  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.