Company takes leap into brick-and-mortar and tech expansion
More small businesses should consider cloud-based telecom systems.
Actor Scott Bakula isn’t part of West Michigan’s leap toward the future of telecommunications — although he did play a small part.
When Ken Fortier founded the company in 2002, he named it Quantum Leap Communications, in large part because he liked the TV show “Quantum Leap,” which starred Bakula.
Mike Borowka bought the company last May, and one of the main questions he faced was, “What about the name?”
It will remain the same as long as he stays, Borowka said. Borowka worked with the company for 10 years before buying out the original owner last year.
“It’s just one of those names that stands out so much,” he said. “It’s got some uniqueness to it.”
Although he won’t change the name, he does intend to help the company grow. Over the past few years, Quantum Leap has seen growth between 15 percent and 20 percent every year in both revenue and number of employees. Borowka said he doesn’t see that growth flat-lining anytime soon.
In April, Quantum Leap made a jump of its own, moving from a 3,500-square-foot 36th Street location to an 11,000-square-foot office at 2006 44th St. SE, between Kalamazoo Avenue and Breton Road. The new space includes a warehouse, which before was half a mile away from the 36th Street building. The new office also includes more space for demonstrations for current and potential clients, as well as event space. Borowka said lunch-and-learns are a common occurrence at the new office.
The facility is likely larger than the company will need anytime soon, he said, but the expectation is to rent space to clients and nonprofits.
“We wanted to turn a space into a showcase center, including more interactivity for our clients,” Borowka said. “The larger space is much more conducive to everything we want to do.”
The company focuses on business phone systems, including both on-premise and cloud-based telecommunications products. Borowka said the future is in the cloud-based systems, and Quantum Leap is currently in a hiring mode for that sector of the business.
“We’re looking to hire at least two account executives,” he said. “But we’re looking to add to that number as quickly as possible, as long as the candidate fits our culture. Essentially, we’re always hiring.”
Borowka said Quantum Leap wants candidates who have an aptitude for learning, rather than prior knowledge of cloud telecommunication systems. A passion for teaching what they learn will be important, as well, he said. Right now, Quantum Leap has 15 employees.
“The focus, for us, is to look for those who will be good stewards to our products,” he said. “If we can educate about the technology and translate that value, we’ve done our job.”
The sales people will work primarily in Grand Rapids. Borowka said 75 percent of sales are accomplished in Greater Grand Rapids, with 95 percent of the company’s business west of U.S. 127, including pockets in Traverse City and Kalamazoo.
The West Michigan area generally is behind some of the nation’s metropolitan areas in terms of cloud telecommunications, but Borowka said it is catching up.
Borowka said the term “cloud-based” is a big buzzword, but it’s something Quantum Leap has been involved with for quite awhile. He said most small and midsize companies believe cloud-based refers only to information technology systems. But in reality, it’s much more than that.
“Voice and IT are so intermingled now," he said. “To have both inside the same data system is a very easy transition and makes a lot of sense.”
In the West Michigan market, small businesses often think the cloud systems aren’t for them, but Borowka said that’s the major market for Quantum Leap.
“That’s what we are,” he said. “Small businesses are usually lost in the mix because they don’t think it applies to them — but that’s exactly who it applies to.”
Quantum Leap also provides agent services to its clients, acting as a one-stop shop. The company brokers for any phone and Internet carriers in the area.
Aside from helping clients, Quantum Leap also seeks to contribute to area nonprofits. This year, the company is providing assistance to D.A. Blodgett St. John’s. Borowka said Quantum Leap hopes to provide the organization with more than $15,000 this year, and as of the end of May, it has passed the halfway point.
Quantum Leap provides help using a “Cash-for-Clunkers” model. When the company installs a new phone system for a client, it offers the new system at a discount and then sells the old system. The profits from the old technology then head to D.A. Blodgett.
“It’s been a really successful program,” Borowka said. “We really like to be able to help contribute to local charities and we have clients that come to us because they want to help, too.”