The origins of J – I.T. Outsource are very similar to those of thousands of computer repair businesses that open each year across the country. Young man has a knack for repairing things, gets known by friends and family for his computer knowledge and begins to take on extra work. Eventually, he’s so busy that he decides it’s time to open his own business. This is usually where it goes off the rails.
This person who is so good at troubleshooting and repairing computers soon discovers that there’s a great deal more to running a successful business than competence in the work you’re doing. Overwhelmed by marketing, taxes, accounting, cash flow and the hundreds of other details it takes to keep a business going, that lone guy decides it’s easier to let someone else worry about all that while he does what he really wants to do: tinker with computers.
This is not how the story of J – I.T. Outsource ends. Instead of being overwhelmed by the technical details of running a business, J. Colin Petersen founded the The Geeks™ Computer Service in 1995. “I discovered that I had the interest, the skills and the incentive to build a thriving business,” says J.
Beginning with “The Geeks”
He began with on-call, on-site computer repair and built a strong reputation for fair, fast service. For a few years, he started with home users and soon began developing business accounts, usually after working on the personal computer of the owner or a family member.
In 2005, J. realized he was trading time for dollars and that there were obvious limits to his income growth. “This is the point where many computer repair guys either stagnate or give up,” says J. “I needed to find a way to serve more clients in the same amount of time. The answer was to open a retail location and let the clients come to me.”
His first space was in a busy retail storefront in Clovis, California. He invested heavily in marketing and became very visible in the community to build his reputation and image. Soon, The Geeks™ became well-known and the face of J. was familiar to business and home computer users alike. Clients began travelling farther and farther to bring in their computers, driving from as far south as Visalia, and as far north as Los Banos.
J. opened a second location in Fresno in 2008. This store rapidly grew in popularity too. At the peak of the business, nearly 120 customers visited J.’s two locations on any given week. This would often double with a virus outbreak.
During this time, The Geeks™ employed a peak of 16 team members and serviced over 17,000 clients. In 2010, with changing economic conditions and insight into the future growth of PC’s (or the lack thereof) J. decided to close the second location and focus on the original retail location.
“I predicted in 2009, a decline in PC repair within 5 years,” says J., “While at the same time I was building a growing client list of business network accounts. After seeing the growth of laptops, tablets and smart phones in the market, the writing was on the wall. There are no moving parts in smart devices, and by the time the screen cracks, consumers are ready to throw away their current model and get a new one. But, workers bringing those devices into their places of business? Ah… now THAT was a level of complexity and a security compliance nightmare that most businesses hadn’t counted on.”
For J., business I.T. revenue was steadily growing, and so was the complexity of those networks due to these new rogue, uncontrolled devices in sensitive business environments.
Evolving into J – I.T. Outsource
In late 2013, after analyzing the numbers (and right in line with his 2009 prediction!), J. decided that it was time to say a fond good-bye to his retail computer repair services and focus solely on I.T. support and business computer network management. This required a major shift in staffing, processes and branding. On August 5th, 2014, the team said a fond good-bye to The Geeks™ and fully embraced the new brand: J – I.T. Outsource
“J is our brand. I.T. outsource is what we do,” says J., “We’re here to service the unique needs of the SMB (small to medium business) market. They need someone to keep their systems running and someone who understands what is it like to lay awake at night thinking about business. We don’t think of ourselves as just managing servers and workstations. For us, our business is about making clients more productive through leverage and automation.”
An on-going challenge will be the lack of awareness by business owners in the Central Valley market as to the existence of managed I.T. services, much less the value that it brings. “We tend to lag state and national trends by five to ten years in Fresno County,” says Petersen. “This includes technology and business innovations, except for the trend of doing more with less which why outsourcing is making more and more sense for local businesses.”
While finding qualified I.T. talent can take diligent searching in the Central Valley, J – I.T. Outsource has solved this problem by hiring the very best and by developing talent in-house. “I’ve created an environment where team members are encouraged to think like an entrepreneur. We’re knowledge workers and that requires an employee’s ongoing commitment to building their skills.” Petersen finds that success with this begins by hiring people who already think that way. He uses his recruiting strategy to filter out those who don’t.
He also systematizes and rewards employees for investing in their skills with a proprietary internal training and testing system. This reduces the industry-wide problem of technicians getting frustrated with their inability to move up within an organization. Continuing education and recertification keeps team members motivated about staying up with technology changes.
Technical staff aren’t paid according to their title, but are paid based on their ability to contribute to the team. Technicians have the opportunity to test every six months to obtain a new tier designation through testing to quantify what they know. The tiers answer Petersen’s challenge of knowing what the employees know and the employees’ need to be rewarded for their professional growth.
“I don’t know of any business, large or small, that has put the time and effort into building up their team like I have,” says Petersen, “but it’s worth every penny. This system will fuel our future growth and yield great results for our clients who now have access to the most experienced and well-trained I.T. professionals possible for less than the cost of a minimum wage employee.”
Expanding into Digital Identity
In April of 2015, J – I.T. Outsource purchased Clovis-based web development firm, AR Technologies, formerly known as ARTCO, now known as ARTCO by J. The acquisition included all of AR Technologies’ existing accounts as well as the services of their web development team, Max Sullivan and Darryl Dote.
“Our business philosophies are a perfect fit for each other,” says J. Colin Petersen, President and CEO of J – I.T. Outsource, “We’re here to solve business problems with technology. AR Technologies took a business approach to the Internet. J – I.T. Outsource is now able to provide our clients with another major piece of their business technology needs and ARTCO by J. is able to leverage greater business technology resources.”
AR Technologies was founded in 1993 by Rod Silver when the Internet and the World Wide Web were just developing into an effective business tool. His web development team has 30 combined years of experience in web design, scripting, database development, graphic design and SEO marketing. “I knew J – I.T. Outsource would be the right organization because of their extreme commitment to client care and service,” said Rod.
“Your computer network is the backbone of your business. Your website is the face of your business. It’s your digital identity. By adding ARTCO by J. to our organization, we’re now able to create a smarter way for businesses to manage all of their technology needs,” says J. Colin Petersen, “And we’re going to take great care of Rod’s clients as they join the J. family.”
The Complete Technology Triad
In November of 2015, J. and his team launched the remaining piece of the technology puzzle for small businesses – VoIP. “J. Digital Voice serves small businesses with high-tech communications systems which are powerful, flexible, and scalable,” says J., “It’s less prone to becoming outdated than many other technologies and will grow with your company.” VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol – delivers voice and communications services over the Internet, using the combined media of the phone and computers, to make any business sound like a Fortune 500 company.
“We now have the capacity to bring together for our clients, the three crucial keys to running a modern business,” says J. Colin Petersen.
A strong and stable business computer network.
A digital identity supporting a website with SEO and digital marketing.
A VoIP business phone system (Voice over Internet Protocol) to support communications.
If you’re ready to incorporate this complete technology trilogy – or any part of this group – into your small to medium business, reach out to us now and we’ll find out how you can leverage technology for your business.