Another 501-er talks about how experiences and challenges can shape an organization’s business model.
Company Name: AGJ Systems & Networks
Company MSP 501 Rank: 330
President: Brian Alford
Headquartered: Gulfport, MS
For any business, it is interesting and important to recall the certain pivot points that got the organization to where it is — what went well, what went wrong, and how those outcomes shaped the company’s direction and model.
For AGJ Systems & Networks, that was Hurricane Katrina. We sat down with AGJ’s president, Brian Alford, this week to chat about how that event caused the company to rethink their approach and business model, and with that pivot, where they are now and see themselves in the next year and beyond.
Channel Futures: How does your organization differentiate itself from other MSPs?
Brian Alford: The ability to respond rapidly and deploy efficiently is paramount. Our certifications and knowledge surrounding industry governance also set us apart.
CF: Where do you see your biggest growth areas in the next year?
BA: Security, compliance/governance and hardware (end of life for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2).
CF: What type of company do you find yourself competing with that you did not two years ago?
BA: Large ISP and vendors like Dell, Cspire, etc.
|Go here for access to the 2019 MSP 501, the world’s most comprehensive ranking of managed service providers.|
CF: Is the influx of private equity and increase in M&A activity impacting your business? How?
BA: AGJ has been approached by multiple M&As looking to create a national presence that can respond to regional and national requirements. This may be an attractive solution to the enterprise customers, but AGJ is primarily focused on the small-to-medium market space that wants an organization that can put boots on the ground and partners with them to create a successful organization focused on their business solutions.
CF: What specific challenges have you as a business owner overcome in your career?
BA: The BP oil spill and Hurricane Katrina were two rather significant challenges. AGJ was a break-fix business prior to Hurricane Katrina. After the storm, our customer base and our organization’s ability to meet and respond to our client’s needs was sorely tested. There were so many unanticipated variables, ranging from employees losing everything and being completely displaced, to cash flow to telecommunications issues.
We had to think about and face some hard questions: “How do you help customers whose businesses are completely gone?” “What do you do when everyone needs new equipment, but your credit line is maxed out in the first week?” “How do you prioritize your response to clients?”
Shortly after surviving the Katrina crisis, we changed our business model and the way we staff our organizations. We created SLAs that prioritized response and allowed for efficiency in the workspace that held AGJ accountable, but also allowed us to track response times and mechanisms that allowed us to scale with growth.
CF: Any last words of wisdom?
BA: MSPs should recognize who their customers are and how their model fits the organizations they serve. If you are providing services to a medical firm, then your technicians need to have a clear understanding of HIPAA. The NOC in India, for example, does not understand the constraints surrounding PCI or ALTA. Differentiate yourself and build a framework suitable for the services you work in.
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