Like a lot of the great tech companies, Westech Solutions started out in a basement. And the two principals, Douglas Holdgrafer and Thomas Boland, like the wiz kid behind Tumblr, were only in high school at the time. Back then, they might build a WiFi network for one neighbor, fix a computer for another, and maybe code a website for a small local firm.
They got so busy by their senior year at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, from which they graduated in 2005, that they formed a limited liability corporation (LLC), with a little help from Holdgrafer’s mother and documents found online, primarily “to protect our parents from any kind of liabilities,” says Holdgrafer.
Now, that basement corporation has mushroomed into a full-fledged business that employs six people, including the two partners, and has doubled revenues every year since 2009. The client list, too, has been doubling, and now numbers between 100 and 150, including the Music Conservancy of Westchester in White Plains and the Stephen Tilly, Architect firm in Dobbs Ferry.
“Once we started going at it full-time toward 2009, we got referrals, we did a little advertising, and it just kind of snowballed,” Holdgrafer says. Last fall they acquired another company, Micro-Point, and moved into its old data center and offices in Millwood, an upgrade for Westech. And no longer do they provide tech support to only next-door—or even County—neighbors, serving small businesses with as many as 70 employees in Westchester, New Jersey, and New York City.
One of those companies is Soleiman Appraisal in Armonk, which has been a customer for about six years. Westech supports six desktop computers, a server, and a range of software, including an aging database program, for Soleiman.“They are the best IT people we’ve ever had,” says Linda Crocco, Soleiman’s office manager. She says the response to a call for help is immediate, even on nights and weekends—a stark contrast to Soleiman’s previous IT experience.
One thing that is helping Westech support the thousands of users represented by its client base is the changing face of managed services. Just a few years ago, tech support was handled on a time-and-materials basis: You had a problem, you called the help desk, and a technician made a trip to your cubicle—a very expensive proposition. But because of software and network innovations, systems can be put in place to regularly monitor the status of individual computers, servers, and networks. And software updates and trouble can be anticipated and “managed” more efficiently and affordably, which allows one technician to do work that formerly took a whole team of people.
The technology is allowing small businesses to have the kind of 24/7 tech support formerly available only to larger companies with their own IT staffs. “A small business doesn’t have the resources to have an in-house IT department, so they outsource all their IT to us,” says Boland. “It’s beneficial for them, cost-effective for them, and it works for us.”
The next frontier and opportunity for growth for Westech is in cloud services. “That’s really where we’re going next,” says Holdgrafer, “to target those mobile devices.”
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