2017 is done. I normally use this time to give a summary of the year, and a wee bit of a hint as to what lies ahead. This year I chose to split the past and future into separate posts.
On the personal side, we have a new family member (as in 2-day-old new). On Friday, we said hello to my 6th (and some claim final) grandchild. Some people (including her parents) claim her name to be Aubrey James Shonk. I’m convinced her name is more accurately Tabeeda, for reasons to complex to go into here. Whatever her name (Tabeeda), both wife Julie and I welcome her (Tabeeda) to our world.
Unfortunately, we said goodbye to another, with Julies father James Hall passing after a brief battle with glioblastoma (brain cancer) back earlier in the year. A good man, gone too soon. Interesting bookends to the year.
On to the business. We added 2 new positions and have 3 new faces this year. Kurt Ketchum joined us as Senior Tech, and Korrey Hull as Technician. Rob Walter joined on the Sales and Marketing side.
We did pretty well as a whole. Set record revenue (ok, every year has seen an increase in revenue since year 1 in 2007). Revenue increased by over 15%. We missed our goal by about 2%, but I’m not crying over that.
2017 saw a lot of consolidation in terms of operations. And it really manifested itself in two areas. First on the technical side. Kevin Dutkiewicz (Tech Director) and Michelle Brugmann (Operations Director) really teamed up well this year. We now have much better processes and procedures for our technicians to follow. This creates a much more effective workforce, and one where we make fewer mistakes (and fix them faster).
And it’s the first year where we introduced financial incentives to our technicians for acquiring certifications. We feel that certs are the best way to measure increased technical knowledge. And we went to the techs and encouraged them to invest in themselves, and we’d reward them as well.
And the guys bought into it. Kurt, Alaa, Jeff and I (gasp!) all became Sophos Certified Engineers. Sophos is our primary partner for Cyber Security. Alaa and Kevin because StorageCraft Certified Engineers. StorageCraft developed ShadowProtect, which is the primary product we’re currently using for backups. And Alaa received his A+ and Network+ certifications. These guys did good. And their handling of tickets and issues dealing with these technologies has definitely improved (they were already pretty good, btw).
We’ve implemented a number of new technologies as well, mostly in the world of cyber security. Dark Web monitoring. Cyber Security end user training. IT Policies and Procedures. Intercept X (Sophos’ malware protection tool). We’re only now really pushing these options out as options.
Kevin has done a great job improving our utilization of our monitoring tools. We’re now capable of effectively monitoring and managing more devices per technician, and proactively handling issues before they disrupt business operations for our customers.
Patching workstations has become a lot easier through utilization of our monitoring tools as well. Again kudos to Kevin for that.
Michelle has recently finished adding a payment portal for our customers. This will allow customer to securely log on and view/print their invoices and schedule payments through either ACH or credit card.
On to the marketing side of things. Patti, Kayla and Rob certainly was busy throughout the year.
We put on two Policy and Procedure workshops, both raising money for Blast Glioblastoma, a non-profit that raises money for brain tumor research. We’re talking about doing another one in March.
We also had our annual Geek Raffle in December, which raised over $800 for Hattie Larlham, a non-profit that helps people with development challenges. This is the 7th annual Geek Raffle, and thanks again to our buds at the Malted Meeple for hosting this great event.
We also had some fun with some off-beat holidays. It seems everybody sends cards (and gifts) around Christmas. But how many actually deliver pies for Pie Day? Yup, we delivered about 30 pies back on March 14 (get it? Pi day? 3.14? March 14th? Huh? Get it?) to our customers. In October we delivered about 250 comic books to help celebrate National Comic Book day.
We had events at our offices as well. We partnered with Sophos for a security seminar in July. Our annual picnic in August. A seminar on IT Topics for CEO’s in November.
And we went on the road. We had a booth for the Wire-Net annual meeting, and at the Society of Ohio CPA’s annual conference in Cleveland.
And we were awarded both a local and national award. For the second year in a row Simplex-IT was recognized as a winner of the Case Weatherhead 100 Upstart award. And MSP Mentor recognized us as one of the top 501 MSP’s in the world. I think this is the 3rd year we’ve received the MSP award.
Then there’s the book. Ah, yes…the book. “A CEO’s Survival Guide to Information Technology.” When I started it (back in April), my thought was that I’d be done with the book in September. Ignorance might be bliss, but removing ignorance is a pain<g>. The book is finally done, and scheduled to be released through Amazon on Friday, January 26th. This is my first book. It’s done, and currently going through typesetting. Although I’m pleased with it, over the past week I’ve come up with at least 3 additional things I should have included. And I suspect I’ll continue to do that for the next 6 months at least.
The goal for me is to achieve “Amazon Best Seller” status. Which is actually an odd story in and of itself. If you sell the most books in a specific category for a relatively short period of time, you’re a best selling author. So the goal is to get people to buy the book on a specific day. Which in my case is January 26th.
Well, that’s our 2017. The high points that come to mind, at least. Of course none of this would happen without our customers, vendors and many friends.
2018? Should be fun.