As captain of the U.S.S. Mosaic, along with his brother Ken, James Kingery has helped countless customers over the last three decades find their way to the right paperless solution. He brings in a wealth of experience to every project, working with small and mid-market organizations to improve their bottom line through process improvements, automation, and management and operations refinements.
We sat down with the longtime Mosaic helmsman to get a sense of what drives him daily, the importance of a healthy work/life balance, and what his favorite part of the job is (hint: it has to do with helping clients).
Mosaic: What you love most about your job?
Kingery: I love that it’s a new undertaking every day and that we are changing things up for businesses and helping them be successful, so it feels like there’s a lot of purpose behind what we do. The impact on our customers and their operation is incredible. You feel more like their partner in what they do than a vendor.
Mosaic: How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do now?
Kingery: He probably wouldn’t have any idea what I was talking about! (Laughing) The concept of helping businesses become more productive by eliminating paper is easy to take in. But, laying the ground work can be very complicated unless you’ve been involved in a good many implementations.
If I were a 10-year-old, I probably wouldn’t even dream of what I do now. But where we’ve ended up is a pretty cool place. Software is becoming increasingly intelligent and intuitive, and the way it impacts individuals on a day-to-day basis is amazing. The days of a person behind a desk covered with invoices waiting to be approved then entered to an ERP are behind us. . . That is, unless you work with Mosaic of course.
Mosaic: What was the first job you ever had, and what’s one thing you learned in that job?
Kingery: Does mowing lawns count? I think the first job where I really learned a lot about people was in college. I worked my way through school at a garage door company (Overhead Door). I learned about tools and people and inventory and how to organize your processes and be efficient. That was my first foray into looking under the hood of a business. You’re dealing with tickets and orders and getting the order right and customer satisfaction. Before then, I had no understanding of any of these things.
Mosaic: What initially got you interested in what you’re doing now with Mosaic?
Kingery: It was one accident after another over a long period of time. I started off in office products, but those didn’t look anything like they do today. It was typing and word processing, and computers were just coming onto the scene. So that’s unfortunately how old I am (laughing). Eventually, I ran across this software with the ability create and index paper documents into electronic form, and I thought that one day that’s going to be huge.
Once we got into the paperless operation and, more specifically, enterprise content management (ECM), we began to meet with high-level organizations and strategically help them become more successful. Then it became increasingly interesting on many levels.
Mosaic: What professional achievement are you most proud of?
Kingery: That we’ve been privately owned and operated for more than 30 years. And we’ve been a platinum partner in just about every relationship we’ve been in. We were a top performer with Xerox, a platinum partner with Epicor (ERP Solutions). Being relevant to our partners has been my greatest achievement.
Mosaic: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever gotten?
Kingery: “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” That one stuck with me. It’s all about experience and how you don’t gain as much when you win. You gain more when you lose and can learn from it.
Mosaic: How do you handle challenges and/or work stress?
Kingery: Sailing clears my mind and takes me away from it all. . . Hard to think about work when you are on the water. We race on Lake Lanier every week, about 45 boats. We have fun. I work hard, we have a good team, and we all help each other and it’s kind of like team building and competition all in one. We also island hop the Caribbean in the Spring and Fall which is more fun than you can imagine. So when I leave, I’m pretty good about keeping the work behind me and going and doing the next thing. I don’t carry it with me.
Mosaic: What is the name of your boat?
Kingery: Sotally Tober. A lot of people tell me, “I don’t know how many people know your name but, everyone knows your boat!” (Laughs.)
Mosaic: What are two adjectives that your family and friends would use to describe you?
Kingery: Upbeat and optimistic. Maybe a little competitive too because after all, if winning isn’t everything then why do they keep score?
Mosaic: Obviously, we won’t be traveling for a little while because of the pandemic. But it’s good to dream! Where is the next place on your travel bucket list, and why?
Kingery: We want to go sailing in the Mediterranean — Italy, Croatia. Over the years, we’ve been mostly sailing in the Caribbean. You know how people hike the Appalachian Trail and hike different pieces of it, so eventually, they get the whole thing? We’ve been doing that with the Caribbean Islands. We started with the Keys and over the years have worked our way down to Grenada’s southern end. We’ve visited great places and people over the years in and around Union Island, Mayeau, Bequia, St Vincent, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Belize etc. . . Hopefully we nip away the entire archipelago.
Mosaic: Who is one of your heroes?
Kingery: It may sound cliché, but I would say, my dad. In World War II, he fought in Germany and was captured there by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war. So he was in peril for his life. When General Patton came through, the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans just left the camps. So my dad and his buddies were just stumbled upon in their prison camp. When he came out of that, he was the best, kindest guy. He was always laughing, and he never raised his voice. He was always pleasant to be around.
Mosaic: What is the last thing that you read?
Kingery: I read about a book every 10 days; all of these adventure novels. It’s a genre that I can’t stop reading. Avenged in the Keys is what I’m reading right now on my Kindle. They’re all kind of like drug interdiction or bad guys/good guys stories, set in the Caribbean. They’re all exciting and fun, with lots of boat chases and great characters. It’s a way to disappear and relax and let your mind go to some other place. I wake up every morning and read. I read every night going to bed.
Mosaic: It seems appropriate that you have a Kindle rather than lots of printed books sitting around, given Mosaic’s specialty.
Kingery: Yes, and I used to have so many books! Two things I like: First, that it’s handheld and it’s right there. So if you fall asleep reading, instead of having to spend 10 minutes finding where you were, it comes right back to the page you were at. And second, I always like to look up words that I don’t know while I’m reading – and you can look it up right then and there.
Mosaic: What’s a talent or interest that isn’t on your resume?
Kingery: I have a woodshop and make saw dust off an on. We also ride bikes a lot. Manning and I enjoy cycling in different parts of town, stopping into pubs and breweries and getting a feel for the area. You see a lot of things that you don’t see driving through, so going into shops and eating locally is fun for us. Other than that, we sail and work a lot.
Mosaic: What actor (or other famous figure) would you want to narrate a movie about your life?
Kingery: Morgan Freeman could make anyone sound interesting.