West Virginia Department of Commerce Jon Hammock

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Jon Hammock

Taking West Virginia to the World

By Courtney Sisk

Jon HammockWhen Jon Hammock graduated from West Virginia University in 1988 with a degree in computer science, he had 14 job interviews. Only one was in his home state. Today, as president of KeyLogic Systems Inc., he employs 70 people in the Morgantown/Fairmont area.  Hammock’s business is one of those keeping the best and brightest working in the Mountain State. 

“I’ve been part of that change, part of that movement, and I take great pride in that,” Hammock says.

KeyLogic is an IT consulting company that serves both government and commercial clients. “These days, none of us have a shortage of information. We have too much information. KeyLogic helps our clients bring all that diverse information together so they can make better decisions,” Hammock says. “Companies throw a piece of technology at you, like a new software system, but don’t tell you how to use it effectively. You’ve got the greatest tool in the world but you haven’t solved the business problem. We recognized you have to get the right tools, the right technology, with the right management.”
In 2009, Hammock was honored as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the region that includes West Virginia. He moved up to the next level of competition and attended the national event in California. There, he rubbed elbows with the CEOs of Walmart and Starbucks, and celebrities including Jay Leno and Magic Johnson.

It’s a long way from his humble beginnings in Parkersburg. “I was the first person in my family to go to college,” he says. “I took out student loans and worked three jobs to pay for it, including the midnight shift as a security guard at a coal mine.”

After graduating, Hammock took his first job out of the state. He came back home and started KeyLogic in April 1999. He credits the West Virginia Small Business Administration with giving the company the money it needed to open the doors.  “The banks didn’t want a business plan and big dreams. They wanted tangible assets,” he says.  “If I’d had a pizza place and could show them pizza ovens, I could have gotten loans all day long.  What I had were government contracts. Six or eight banks denied me. The SBA not only helped with the loan, they also knew how federal contracts worked and helped with those issues.”

KeyLogic has grown an average of 27 percent each year it’s been in business. Consultants have advised him to relocate his offices to Columbia, Maryland to better serve the growing area of Washington, D.C. But Hammock says West Virginia is home. “We are here because of the great environment, the great lifestyle,” he says. “People recognize this area as having a lot of capability and credibility. The reality is we can compete with anybody in the country, anywhere in the world. We do it every day. In approximately half of our contracts, we compete against large businesses, international billion-dollar businesses, and we win. We won 45 percent of our proposals last year.”

The company celebrated its tenth anniversary in April 2009 by taking employees and their guests on an all-expense-paid, four-day cruise. Hammock says a successful business is about creating those “magic moments” for employees and clients alike. “People know when they have a business partner they can trust on good days and bad days, when someone is looking out for their best interests, be on the spot with a solution when they need it,” he says.  “That’s when we know we’ve arrived.”