We trace our history all the way back to 1989 when we began training technology professionals as the Network Institute of America. Since then Centriq has operated under several different names and even experienced a change of ownership for several years. But during the entire 25 years of our history, Centriq has remained under the same management and has been committed to training and supporting the IT workforce in Kansas City and the Midwest.
Here’s a timeline of our history:
1989-1992: 1st to Train IT in Kansas City
As the Network Institute of America (NIA), we became the first authorized training center in Kansas City and focused on corporate IT training for various Kansas City companies. Current Centriq President and Co-Owner, Kevin Grawe, as well as current Co-Owner, Steve Harmon, were both part of the team that first year. The company was originally a Novell Education Center but soon expanded its training authorization to include Microsoft.
1992-1996: Developing a National Organization
Looking to develop best practices in a new and growing industry, Grawe and Co-Owner, Steve Harmon, reached out to independent IT training companies in other cities. The result was the formation US Connect, a national consortium of Microsoft training partners. To develop their brand in this new industry, all NIA and other consortium members changed their names to include US Connect. That was the first name change in our history. In addition to continuing as a corporate IT training company, US Connect Kansas City expanded its scope to train office copier dealers in the transition from analog to digital technology. Our main client, the National Office Machine Dealers Association (NOMDA), was headquartered in Kansas City.
1996-2001: Tech 2000 is 1st Consumer IT Training
In 1996, the entire US Connect consortium was purchased by IKON Office Solutions, a Fortune 500 company. The entire staff of US Connect Kansas City was retained and, of course, the name was changed to IKON Education Kansas City. IKON Education Kansas City was established as the headquarters for the Western Region of IKON Education. As President of IKON Education’s Western Region, Grawe led the initiative of establishing IKON Education as a national technology training company. During this time, Grawe created Tech 2000—the first consumer technology job training program in the country. The program, which provided Microsoft certifications for individuals looking to start careers in the rapidly growing field of IT, was quickly adopted across the country by the other IKON Education locations.
2001-2005: Rebranding as Centriq
In 2001, IKON elected to focus on its office machine business and exited the IT training industry. As a result, Grawe, Harmon and current Co-Owner, Ted Parker, were able to return IKON Education Kansas City to local ownership by re-acquiring the company and re-naming it Centriq University. In response to a rapidly changing Post-9/11 marketplace, Centriq University focused its efforts entirely on the corporate IT training market. Approximately 75% of the Centriq University staff was comprised of employees that had been with the company since its US Connect days.
2005-2008: TechSmart KC Enters the IT Workforce
In early 2005, Grawe, Parker and Harmon believed the economic situation once again offered the opportunity for individuals to start new careers in IT. Rather than re-create the Tech 2000 program, Centriq acquired Foss Training—a local Kansas City training company focused primarily on the education of career changers for entry-level IT jobs—and changed the company’s name to Centriq Foss in order to benefit from the marketing brand Foss had developed in the consumer market. This acquisition created Centriq’s career IT training division (which Centriq re-branded as the TechSmart KC program in 2010).
2008-Present: Centriq Training Today
In 2008, Grawe, Parker and Harmon elected to acquire the ownership interest of the previous Foss Training owners and dropped the Foss name to simply become Centriq Training. While many things have changed in the last 25 years, there has been one constant in the IT training industry. That one constant is the continuing and unwavering commitment of the people of Centriq Training to develop and support the IT workforce in Kansas City. It’s a commitment we vow to uphold.