True North Consulting Group’s history dates back to 1984, when Gary and Kit Elert opened the doors of Elert & Associates, an independent technology consulting firm founded in Stillwater, Minnesota. At this time, many technologies such as telephone systems, networks, security devices and others were proprietary in nature, as the PC (personal computer) was just coming onto the scene and there were competing technologies and protocols to interconnect them. Elert & Associates helped clients sort through all of the options available while aligning systems to specific needs.
Over the course of the next 30 years, Elert & Associates would open offices around the nation, with one in particular located in the heart of Texas.
During the early 2000s, Elert & Associates’ presence in Texas grew to represent some of the biggest names in Texas K-12 education, such as Garland ISD, Houston ISD, Katy ISD, Klein ISD, Lake Travis ISD, Round Rock ISD, Southlake Carroll ISD and many more. It was during this time that Russ Johnson came to know the Elert & Associates team, which became the starting point for True North Consulting Group.
Around 2010, virtualization and cloud technology emerged. Johnson believed that organizations would face reinventing their approach to infrastructure, blended data and communication. He knew the only way to help organizations through these transitions was to uncouple the products side from the services side––truly becoming an independent consultant.
In 2014, Johnson confided his desire to start an independent consulting firm to his friend, none other than the Vice President of Elert & Associates, a consultant himself. During Mr. Chojnowski’s next trip to Texas, the two of them met for dinner at Dino’s Steakhouse and devised a strategy and business plan to start a consulting firm together.
Johnson recounts a phone conversation he had with Shane Jacobus, a founding member of True North, as they brainstormed what to call the new company.
“Wanting our company name to have meaning for what we are truly about, working with organizations to create a strategic direction for technology, we both blurted out ‘True North’ at the same time. We knew at that moment, that was the name.”
– Russ Johnson
After nearly four years, Johnson and Chojnowski returned to Dino’s. It was only fitting to return back to the place that started it all to discuss the transition for the rest of the Elert team. On January 1, 2018, True North and Elert & Associates became one big team again. For the first year, everyone worked to make the transition a huge success and on January 1, 2019, True North Consulting Group announced its new consolidated team of nearly 50 consultants, serving clients nationwide.
We cling to our heritage as it represents a continuation of over three decades of building relationships that focus on our clients’ success. As we like to say: We didn’t invent consulting; we just made it personal.