Limerick >> “Good is the enemy of Great.”
That quote, from James Collins’ book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” is painted on the wall of technology services firm KPInterface in Limerick.
“It means we won’t ever be satisfied with just being a good company. We want to be great; we want to be the best we can possibly be. It’s about our clients, our employees — it’s about the community,” said Brian Pickell, president and CEO of the company, which is marking its 10th anniversary this year.
The company was founded in 2006 by Pickell, who said his strength was operations, and Matt Kirby, whose main focus was sales. The pair left jobs with IT consultants to set out on their own.
Along the way there have been challenges — a recession, changes in client needs and technology — and loss. But there has also been relationship building with clients and steady growth of the company.
KPInterface provides outsourced IT services for small- and mid-sized companies — generally companies with fewer than 200 employees. Pickell added the company serves a variety of industries across the country.
“People come to us that don’t have an in-house IT department, or they want to move away from that,” said Pickell. “Sometimes they have someone and they want to replace them or that person is retiring or they want to augment that person.”
Some of the services offered by KPInterface include: help desk, managed services, project services, virtual chief information officer services (VCIO), hardware and software procurement and licensing, cloud services, cabling, backup and disaster recovery and security services.
Pickell said generally, clients contract with KPInterface on an annual basis.
“We’re proactively managing them around the clock because we’re monitoring them 24/7 and then we also do various items, whether it is updates or assessments,” Pickell said. “We are also responsive to their needs. There are things that come up all the time that the user doesn’t expect — that we don’t expect — and they need responsive service.”
“Aligning technology with business” is the company’s motto, and Pickell said the first thing the firm does with a new client is find out what they do, how they do it and what things they want to achieve or overcome.
“Then we take a look at their technology and evaluate it against the business goals, objectives and challenges,” he said. “Is the technology aligned with the business? We then give them recommendations for what we think they need.” Pickell added that the company uses its technology alignment review process — a process he said is one of the most developed assessment processes in the market.
Within its first year of operation, the staff at KPInterface had begun to grow. Two of the employees hired in that first year are still with the company — Robert Rittich, primary lead consultant and Ian Rother, project manager. The company currently has 22 employees.
From the beginning, Pickell said it was important that KPInterface’s employees have a customer service mindset.
“We didn’t want the most technical people; we wanted the most professional people who were in technology because we’re a customer service company. If your service experience with us is great, but we’re rough around the edges or don’t follow-up, you’re going to have a bad taste in your mouth,” he said.
Pickell said the company came through the recession of 2008 pretty well, adjusting with some clients who needed to reduce their contracted services. He added that some of those companies have grown back to their pre-recession levels — or beyond.
“I think our business can do well in both recession and growth markets, because if companies are growing, they need more IT services. If they are contracting, they might change the way they do IT services,” he said.
KPInterface was weathering the recession in 2009, when probably its biggest challenge arose — founding partner Matt Kirby was diagnosed with leukemia. He passed away in 2010.
“Matt was the head of sales, while I was operations and finance. Matt’s death forced me to become the head of sales as well,” Pickell said. “We adjusted; everyone in the company stepped up and took on more. And a lot of those guys are still here.”
In 2011, Pickell said the company acquired Peak Systems, a company based in Malvern that provided similar services led by Mark Patriarca, currently KPInterface’s vice president of operations. Pickell said the move led to new clients and talent, as well as a larger Chester County presence. It also allowed Pickell to focus on sales and growth, while Patriarca focused on operations.
“We have provided a lot of stability for our client base, despite the fact we have had to weather a couple of storms,” Pickell added.
KPInterface maintains offices in Limerick, Malvern and center city Philadelphia. Pickell added that the growth for the company has been steady over the past 10 years. He said the goal is more growth for the company — including expanding to about 35 employees within the next couple of years.
“I think there will be a little bit more focus on the VCIO services. Some mid-sized companies are looking for those kinds of services. They might have staff but they don’t have anyone to manage it. We have also had a foray into the healthcare arena,” he said.
Pickell said the KPInterface staff works well together, and there has been an effort to create a family atmosphere. In addition to social events, KPInterface hosts an annual Celebration of Excellence each spring.
“It’s in honor of Matt Kirby. Basically we honor an employee every year for their commitment to excellence,” Pickell added.
To reach business editor Donna Rovins call 610-850-0272. Email business story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org