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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Amber Lowry, CEO of Syssero, poses for a portrait inside of the Be Caffeinated coffee shop in October. Syssero's remote workforce made it nimble as the pamdemic took hold.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced many workers to turn out their office lights and go home 21 months ago, Syssero's workforce was already there.

Amber Lowry, CEO and co-owner of the Chattanooga-based company, says everyone on its staff was already working remotely — by design. In fact, Lowry says, her company has never had a physical location.

"The biggest thing when we started was to ask ourselves, 'Does it make sense to have an office?'" she says. "It's so much overhead. Why do that? Put that money into your people."

Their already remote workforce kept the business from missing a beat, and the pandemic put Syssero in a strong spot to help its clients through the complexities of managing leave and other workforce challenges.

Syssero

* Online: syssero.com

* Launched: 2016

* Employees: 29, with five in Chattanooga

Syssero's technology experts create custom solutions on the Workday platform when it won't meet all needs out-of-the-box. Workday is a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance, human resources and planning.

"Everybody was slamming on the brakes" when the pandemic hit early last year, Lowry says. "People didn't know what to expect. Material contracts were being put on hold. People were being told to take time off, so we helped [clients] build out time-off plans. The one thing we knew is that we could figure this out."

Specifically, Lowry says, Syssero used tools in its Workday toolbox in the early days of the pandemic to create an absence plan for its clients. The aim, she says, was to identify those individuals who might impact production directly, so that those still at work could maintain work/life balance.

"We were done by June [2020]," she says. "We rolled it out to clients at a discounted rate, because so many couldn't afford to raise budgets at that point."

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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Amber Lowry, CEO of Syssero, poses for a portrait inside of the Be Caffeinated coffee shop in October. Syssero's remote workforce made it nimble as the pamdemic took hold.

Syssero president/co-owner Ryan Massie adds that the "brilliance of Workday is that it's designed so that you can create things."

"Businesses have to quantify and report the impact of COVID in real time," he says. "What we did in Workday was build ways for businesses to organize the impact of COVID."

Lowry says Syssero made just a few small adjustments to its plans to accommodate the pandemic. "We have a couple of in-person events each year that we did those remotely, but we didn't have to change our culture," she says.

Inc. 5000 2021: The Chattanooga edition

* 85: FreightWaves was on the list for the first time with a 4,597% three-year growth rate from 2017-2020.

* 335: Text Request was on the list for the first time with a 1,399% three-year growth rate.

* 619: Network Transport was on the list for the first time with a 777% three-year growth rate.

* 896: Trident Transport was also on the list in 2018-2020, and had a 544% three-year growth rate.

* 1,194: Steam Logistics was also on this list in 2017-2020, and had a 405% three-year growth rate.

* 1,559: Reliance Partners was also on this list in 2016-2020, and had a 302% three-year growth rate.

* 2,324: Lync Logistics was also on this list in 2018-2020, and had a 183% three-year growth rate.

* 2,587: Max Trans Logistics was also on this list in 2019 and 2020, and had a 159% three-year growth rate.

* 2,680: Syssero was on the list for the first time with a 151% three-year growth rate.

* 3,672: Conversant Group was also on this list in 2015-2020, and had a 91% three-year growth rate.

* 3,809: Saturday Drive (Cleveland, Tennessee) was also on the list in 2020, and had an 85% three-year growth rate.

* 4,308: Skuid was also on this list in 2018-2020, and had a 66% three-year growth rate.

* 4,961: Thinking Media was on the list for the first time, with a 40% three-year growth rate.

The company made this year's Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America, with a three-year (2018-20) growth rate of 151 percent, good for No. 2680 on the list. But there are bigger things to come, Lowry and Massie say. The company is on track for 250 percent growth for 2019-21.

"Our mission has been sustainability, scalable growth," Lowry says. "Grow in a way that empowers employees. We don't have investors. We're self-funded. We have no debt. We take care of our own.

"[The Inc. 5000] wasn't one of our goals, but it's a nice cherry on top. We must be doing something right," she adds.

Lowry is a Workday alum, having started there about a decade ago. An East Tennessee native, she holds an undergraduate degree from Villanova University and an MBA from Northcentral University. Her career took her as far west as California, but she said that when the time came to launch Syssero, she knew where she wanted to do it.

"We had options for Nashville and Knoxville, but I just have a fondness for East Tennessee," she says. "I tell people that if they like Austin [Texas] or Sacramento [California], they'd like Chattanooga. It's one of those quirky cities – lots of culture, a small-city feel but all the amenities."

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