Succeeding In Anonymity” With John Gambill, Jr. CEO/Co-Founder of GO Concepts Inc
GO Concepts is an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) based in Southwest Ohio. We’ve been working with both the public and private sectors since 1997, serving various industries and businesses both large and small.
To give you an idea of the breadth and depth of our experience… In the late 90’s our municipality here outside Cincinnati overbuilt the local cable provider’s implementation and we were selected as the Internet partner for the project. It was the first public/private partnership of its type in the country, and we handled the entire data side of the network from help desk to head end support. We also designed and help launch their VoIP phone system, as well as designed the fiber connectivity for the local school district.
During that time, some of the first DOCSIS equipment from Cisco came off the line to our offices here in Lebanon, Ohio. DOCSIS went on to become the industry standard in cable Internet. To show you just how new this was and who we were working with, we have a hand-labeled cable modem from Sony designated #3 that was used for testing! We also worked with other large companies like 3Com and US Robotics, who sent engineers to our office in order to be able to do real-world field testing of their equipment.
How Did You Get Involved With Local Governments & The DD Community
We have always provided both remote and on-site support services. In 2013, we began working with the Developmental Disabilities Community to help provide services to County Boards, Providers, and Agencies here in Ohio and it quickly became our focus. Simply put, we help those who help others by making it easier for them to do their jobs.
We became involved with the DD Community because we’re passionate about what they do. It’s a labor of love for our staff and very rewarding. Plus, we work with companies that do business with DD-related organizations to provide IT expertise for them as well. We have some very high-level IT consultants here at GO Concepts that truly enjoy their work.
Do You Still Work With Other Businesses?
Although our focus is with County Boards, Providers, and Agencies in the Ohio DD Community, we still work with our existing large and small business customers in various professional service industries. No matter the customer, our focus is on being proactive and preventing IT problems rather than reacting to them.
We cover all of Ohio and have some existing customers outside of the state as well. We can do this via our extensive remote service capabilities. This is actually the majority of what we do and 95%+ is done remotely. If our clients need onsite support, we dispatch a technician. If they are outside of Ohio, we are part of an industry peer-group of other very successful MSP’s from around the country who can dispatch a technician to visit the customer and provide the hands-on service needed. So, essentially we can serve businesses anywhere in the U.S.
Who Is GO Concepts?
It started when I was an advisor to the local high school chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and this young 18-year old entrepreneur and IT talent named Dan Oliver asked if I would be interested in starting a business. Dan was already an incredible network engineer from the age of 14. We put together a business plan over dinner one night on the back of a placemat at a local dive and the idea for GO Concepts was born… G for Gambill and O for Oliver.
Soon after, we brought in Dan’s neighbor and close friend, as well as a former FBLA student, Dan Hollingshead, an incredibly talented programmer, and the rest is history. We started as an Internet Service Provider and web-hosting firm like most tech start-ups back in the nineties; with helpdesk services and IT consulting and getting people on the old 56k Flex and ISDN, then DSL. Then when our community put out the bid for their project and we were fortunate enough to be chosen, we put our expertise and work ethic into practice of doing everything to help them make that a success.
We added break/fix services and everything evolved into the Managed IT Services we provide today.
Should Other MSPs Go Vertical Like You Did With The DD Organizations?
We’ve never really worked towards going vertical. We were trying to be everything to everybody. And when you don’t say no, it usually means taking one-off jobs where you’ll never use a solution again. We fell into this trap.
So, prior to 2013, we sat down and decided to focus on what we did best – providing great IT support and consulting services, hosted exchange, co-location and virtual services from our own datacenter. We stuck to this mentality.
After 2013, we knew if we were going to grow, we needed to bring in some marketing help. This came to my mind after a firm we hired to do a complete rebrand said in a meeting, “John, you know what… you’re succeeding in anonymity.” This was a real kick to the gut. Yes, we were doing great, making money, and we were busy from our word-of-mouth business. But others didn’t know about us and all these great things we had done and were doing because we weren’t focused on marketing and sales. We were too busy running our business.
We decided to take our own advice of focus on what you do well and let us focus on your IT and said we need to focus on what we do well and let someone else focus on our marketing. We needed an MSP marketing partner, so we could focus on best serving our customers and growing our business. We researched and interviewed all the top MSP marketing companies in the country and chose one that reminded us of ourselves and reflected our company culture.
That’s when we started working with Stuart and Melissa Crawford and their team at Ulistic out of Florida. Stuart had built a very successful MSP and was now helping others do the same. He came to visit and spend a few days with us. He looked at everything we were doing, and he said….”Listen, you really need to focus on this vertical of helping those in the DD community.” He saw that we loved working with them, that they loved working with us, and we were very passionate about it.
I was a bit worried about putting all of our eggs in one basket. Especially because the DD Community in Ohio isn’t a large market with only 88 counties, nor do they have extensive budgets. It’s what you would call a very narrow vertical.
But we knew what Stuart saw, we loved working in that space, so we made the decision to do it, and our staff members are all trained to work in this field and really enjoy doing so. And now we can say we are “The Premier Information Technology Solutions Provider for Agencies, Independent Providers, and County Boards of DD,” and we know it’s true. We not only have experience with the software they use, but we know how they operate and understand the best solutions for the challenges they face. We can come right in and do what needs to be done to get started immediately in getting them where they need to be in order to better assist the individual they serve.
Do You Work With Their IT Staff?
Yes, if they have an IT person on staff, we can come in as a Co-Managed IT Provider and give them an incredibly talented team to make them the best and most effective they can be. Plus, one person can only know so much, do so much, be available so much. We have a complete team that’s knowledgeable about many IT issues and solutions, and we can help them get more out of their IT. Plus, we’re providing monitoring and management for them 24/7/365, so they “Don’t worry about IT.” We don’t replace their technicians; we provide the help they need to do their job the absolute best they can. Now, all those projects they want to do that were on the back burner, they can get done with our support and their time isn’t dominated with the issue of the day.
“What Do You Think Is The Best Part About Being In Managed Services?”
I touched on the personal and fulfilling side of it, but the best part is, in the end, we’re IT guys. We like standardization, and being in the managed space allows us to standardize our operations and get the best out of our people. And this also lets them focus in on a higher level when the daily IT requirements are in place.
The most important thing in the business world is your employees. They’re your front line, they carry the banner for you and provide the direction for your business. You must take care of them and give them the opportunities to do what they love to do. Being a successful MSP gives us the opportunity to do this for them.
6 Rapid-Fire Questions For You To Answer
1. Apple or Android? Apple
2. Mac, Linus or Windows? Windows
3. Amazon, Azure or something else? Something else, because we have our own data center… The GO Concepts Private Cloud!
4. Backups: Local, Cloud or Both? A combination or hybrid.
5. Should you always virtualize? Yes or No: It depends, but if I have to say Yes or No, it’s Yes.
6. Which is worse – printer support or vendor cold calls? Hands down, printer support! Vendor cold calls can go to voice mail! Seriously though… I believe in supporting our vendors, because when we do, they support us.
Your Best Advice?
The advice that I give to my two sons… find something you’re passionate about. Once you do, work as hard as you can to make it a success. The hard work won’t guarantee success, but you’ll have a much better opportunity to achieve it. That’s all you can control… your own effort.