Small Business & Startups and Technology

Cloud-hosting company comes to GR

Tim Averill relocates SkyBox Cloud LLC headquarters to be closer to home, expand presence in Midwest.

October 14, 2016
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SkyBox Cloud
Tim and Shelly Averill came back to Grand Rapids to care for Tim’s ailing mother. They’re staying to set up their company’s headquarters. Courtesy SkyBox Cloud LLC

A desire to be closer to home has brought a Nevada-based cloud-hosting company to Grand Rapids.

SkyBox Cloud LLC, established five years ago in Reno, Nevada, by Grand Rapids native Tim Averill and his wife, Shelly, recently moved its headquarters to West Michigan. The company is looking to expand its presence in the Midwest, but the initial reason for Averill’s return to his hometown is more personal.

Following the death of his stepfather in February 2015, the Averills moved back to the area to care for Tim Averill’s mother. When Averill’s mother died this past year, they made the decision to stay in Grand Rapids and capture a larger share of the Midwest market — looking to expand operations into the local area, as well as Chicago and northern Ohio.

“There’s a lot of manufacturing and distribution, and there is some growing tech presence here,” said Tim Averill, SkyBox’s chief technical officer. “It’s improved a lot since I left, and I think West Michigan in general is transforming and kind of catching up to the tech industry. We’re not quite at the pace of Silicon Valley, but there is more of a need here, and it’s a great area to be in.”

In addition to Tim and Shelly Averill, SkyBox employs seven full-time employees who will remain at the Reno offices and a team of about 20 subcontractors nationwide. The company owns server farms in Tier 4 data storage facilities in Sacramento and Dallas and specializes in keeping mission critical servers and email services running smoothly with no interruption.

Because of the delicate nature of ensuring their customers’ operations remain functional 24/7, Tim Averill said SkyBox was very intentional in selecting data centers that were considered “bulletproof.” Its servers are hosted at the 500,000-square-foot RagingWire data center in Sacramento and the 670,000-square-foot CyrusOne data center in Dallas. Though he didn’t rule it out, there currently are no plans to host servers locally.

“We’re all over, but the braintrust is here,” Shelly Averill said.

Tim Averill said SkyBox serves a wide variety of customers, from small, family-owned businesses to a $20 billion company.

“We’re on our third generation of infrastructure and design for our cloud, and we’ve got a pretty mature product set that can scale to any sized company,” he said.

Shelly Averill, SkyBox’s chief executive officer, said most of the company’s business comes from word of mouth and referrals, noting SkyBox boasts low attrition rates from repeat business.

“Our growth has been completely organic without a lot of marketing and a lot of hype,” Tim Averill added.

Tim Averill said what sets SkyBox apart from most cloud management companies is the focus on not just securing new customers, but ensuring the partnership is a good fit both for themselves and the consumer.

“We just want the opportunity to prove ourselves, and our existing base has been with us for a very long time because we try harder,” Tim Averill said.

So far, the couple has found West Michigan to be quite accommodating, and Tim Averill is looking forward to getting back to his roots.

“This is where I learned the trade,” he said. “I went out west to …”

“Meet me,” Shelly Averill chimes in with a laugh.

“Meet Shelly,” Tim Averill finished. “And now, it’s good to be back.”

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