Solving Technology Problems From The Inside

May 28, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS – When developing a new business, one of the key factors entrepreneurs are told to find is a need. If there is a need in the market for what the new business is willing to provide, success is much more likely.

This key factor is exactly what Mark Carter, vice president and his business partner, Rich Webb, president, found when they decided to start Tech Power Solutions, a new technology resource for small to medium-size businesses in the West Michigan area.

The solution provider, according to Carter is there to speed delivery time and guarantee service, in some cases, within four hours.

“When a business has a network system that they are having problems with, they need assistance and in most cases they need it fairly fast,” said Carter. “The problem is that some of the large network servers have so many clients, and so many big clients to serve, that it can be days or weeks before they have a chance to get out to that small client.

“We want to be a resource for those small to medium-size businesses because that is where we feel there is a need and we want to remain close to them.”

What Tech Power Solutions sees as its role is servicing those smaller businesses so that the larger network providers can service their larger clients to the best of their ability.

“Little guys are what build the entire backbone (of the business world) and I would rather deal with 200 small to medium-size businesses than a few larger ones. It is there that you can see the difference you make to their business,” Carter added.

Carter who has an extensive business and technology background also sees the value and importance of customer service.

“We are also going to focus more on customer service and serving the customer. There are many other businesses that are one-sided and only know the technology side of things so when they present an idea to the customer they are saying ‘look at all this cool technology and how much you can spend on it’,” said Carter.

The company also plans to stay small and grow proportionately with growth of business.

“We would stay the size we are if we thought business wouldn’t grow, however, we are seeing a large growth even just within the last month. Therefore we will continue to add more staff as we see our client list expand, so that we can stay on top of customer service and serve our clients in the same manner we are now,” said Carter.

Carter recognizes that the size to which Tech Power Solutions grows may affect the feel he wants to preserve about being a client's own internal network service support department.

“There are many small businesses out there that have a network that no one fully understands but they don’t have the resources to have the staff to run it,” said Carter. “But they need to feel like they do and that is exactly where our market is.”

The company is able to provide service in virtually all network systems including Novell, Microsoft server products and Linux; Cisco for local and wide area networks; certified in Sco Unix products; it is a Citrix solutions provider and also support terminal services.

One thing the company is not going to get into, Carter said, is software sales because it is simply off of their focus.

“We want to stay on our focus. However, if a client is having trouble with their software we will come out and contact their software provider for them,” explained Carter.

“That way we have a much better deal of understanding what the provider is talking about and can either fix it or explain it to the customer. With our help, they have a much better chance of getting it worked out.”

Tech Power Solutions clients are billed in one of two ways. For a recent client, Carter set up an annual package for disaster recovery.

The package includes a discounted rate where Tech Power Solutions will visit the company once a week to check back-ups, pick up a weekly data tape and take it off-site for a data back-up, and log and keep an inventory of all the business’s software and hardware so that in case of a fire or other disaster, the customer’s system could be rebuilt and reloaded with the back-up data.

This package bills quarterly but an hourly rate is also available. Tech Power Solutions is on-call during the business week and will then bill at what Carter calls a very competitive hourly rate.

“We have a low overhead and can afford to charge less than the larger service providers out there. We charge $85 an hour for pretty much anything on the internal network. We do charge $100 if we have to go wider than that just from the standpoint that it takes more certification and we have to have more certified guys on staff,” said Carter.

Most of the company’s clients are within the West Michigan area but the form is willing to dabble outside that and dabble in the area of Web design as well. In Richland, Mich., the company is designing a web site for a marina and is getting into the development.

“This is not something we set out to do but it was a need for these clients, it was a small web site and it was a fit for us. The artwork we sub-contract out but everything else we do and manage,” said Carter.

Starting with small sub-contractors, Tech Power Solutions hopes to form relationships with other vendors that have established a place in the marketplace but don’t necessarily have a professional services division.

He said this will aid in developing a network where if there is something a client needs, the company will know who to call and can complete the job.

“I may not have the expertise on staff to complete the job,” said Carter, “but we have the resources, we know who to call and how to manage that for you.”

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