Guest: Robert Merva
Company: Avrem Technologies
Starting at a young age, Robert started getting technical certifications. Before he graduated high school he was already doing a lot of IT work for the school district. This turned into a job with the school district after graduation but it wasn’t long before Robert decided he could make a business (and a living) out of helping people with their IT needs. Robert believes it’s very important to have your processes defined early and with long-term goals in mind. Robert really does love what he does for a living and can’t imagine doing anything else…it’s always great when you find your passion.
Watch on YouTube
Hello and welcome. This is MSP Voice, episode number 22. So today I’ve got a great interview coming up with Robert Merva of Avrem Technologies, in the greater Youngstown area of Ohio. So looking forward to that coming up. A couple of quick announcements here.
Again, don’t forget about mspvoice.com, which is the source for all things MSP Voice. Got some exciting things coming up. We’re going to have even more original content. And we’re also going to be launching a webinar series, so watch for more information on that coming up within the next week or so. And I’ll be announcing that as we move forward. So hoping to bring in some good content for everyone, but more in the form of a webinar instead of just a podcast.
Best of Reddit
- IBM to buy Red Hat for $34bn
Brief: Actually, for $33.4bn. However, will CentOS users be affected? Some say no – check out g-a-c comment here
So with that, let’s get started with our Best of Reddit. So if you were like me this weekend – actually it was yesterday – you got an alert that IBM is acquiring Red Hat for about $34bn. The big news in the tech industry, right? You’ve got IBM – big, Red Hat – also big, it’s a huge acquisition. So, as with any acquisition, there are all sorts of speculation. Everyone’s trying to figure out what’s going to happen to Red Hat. What’s going to happen to the employees? And there’s also a lot of discussion about what’s going to happen with CentOS, because that’s, kind of, part of Red Hat, but still open source. Is IBM going to kill it? So a lot of discussion going on and especially within the Linux community – they’re a very tight-knit group – they’re trying to figure out, what does this mean for Linux as a whole? So, I’m not going to read all the comments. This one here has 825 comments. It’s definitely a big thread and a lot of it is focusing on Cent. So people trying to figure out what is going to happen there.
So, in the show notes, I’ve also included a link to another article on Reddit about the same thing. “Given the open and free nature of CentOS and practically every other Linux distro, compared to IBM’s values and practices, should we be worried about the end of CentOS, given that they are very closely affiliated? If someone could help by outlining the exact relationship between Red Hat as a business and CentOS. Could IBM bring CentOS crashing down in order to force users on to a costlier system?” So, obviously, lots of concern about that. And there is some really good discussion. One person here, g-a-c, “CentOS is a rebuild of the same software that is used in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, with all the trademarks removed, as is permitted by the GPL.” If he remembers right, the main CentOS developers were hired by Red Hat a few years ago to work full-time on CentOS. “I think they provide a lot of the project infrastructure too.” He says, “IBM could not bring CentOS crashing down. CentOS 7 will carry on working and probably being updated.” So, it’s based on licenses and open source and GPL, some people don’t think that it’s possible that they could just kill CentOS, but there may be some changes. All this is speculation. We don’t know. It’s got to make regulatory approval and all those types of things. So, if you’re concerned about it, keep an eye on things but I wouldn’t say the sky is falling just yet.
- Austin McChord Stepped Aside as Datto CEO
Brief: Is it really important, that the very original CEO leaves the company after the acquisition process?
In other tech news, last week, if you’re a fan of Datto, Austin McChord has stepped aside as the CEO of Datto. So, all power to him. He’s built a great company. A lot of great things. And if you look at the comments on this particular thread here in Reddit, everyone is pretty much saying, “Awesome,” “He was a great CEO,” “More power to him,” “Get out, enjoy your life,” “Get that work-life balance,” and those types of things. So, I think people, in general, feel good about this, feel good for Austin about this, at least. What it’s going to mean for changes at Datto, nobody knows – just like the speculation on the IBM / Red Hat. So, I wouldn’t necessarily make this too much of a concern. I’ve been in the tech industry for a long time. People move on. It does not necessarily change the company but you’ve got to, at some point say, “Hey, you know what? It’s time for me. I’ve built something. I want to move on and maybe build something new,” or “I just want to go and spend some more time with my family,” and those types of things. So, best of luck, Austin, out there, and, again, feel free to participate in this thread if you want to send some well-wishes.
- How to Conduct Tech Meetings?
Brief: Do you regularly have meetings for your techs about tech?
So, next up, this is an interesting topic – how to conduct tech meetings. We have a long time worker, a first-time poster on Reddit – his first post on this sub. And he’s a tech and an MSP but they rarely have tech-only meetings. He strongly believes these would be beneficial to the tech team, an opportunity to discuss current technologies, training, brainstorm, those types of things. And, of course, he brings in that there are challenges. When does it happen? If you’re on a call, somebody’s got to cover the phones and those types of things. And he basically says, “Does your MSP have dedicated time for tech meetings? When are they held? What kind of topics are included?” Those types of things.
I think the most interesting thing here is, at least two responses talk about beer. Techs and beer – a lot of times, those go hand-in-hand. And MSPforME, here, the first poster – 4 points – he says, “Here’s what we do. Friday morning, from 8:00 to 8:30 every week. The last one to the meeting buys beer for the afternoon.” So you have this meeting at a set time every week. The last person to show up, if they’re late, they’ve got to buy the beer. And they have an agenda that they stick to. They talk about projects that are going on so that everyone is aware that if there’s a project for a particular customer, if that customer calls, they know what’s going on and everyone gets to bring something up to talk about, even if it’s just for two minutes. Doesn’t matter – all are involved. And then at 8:30, they wrap up, remote techs call in and, if you’ve got remote techs or you have different shifts, other techs can call in, or Webex or Skype, or however you run the meeting. And it’s set every day. And it’s definitely good, I think, for the techs and for team building. So someone says, “Thank you.
I like that everyone is expected to bring something to the meeting, encouraging open discussion. The service coordinator that you mention – what do they do? Ticket triage and dispatch?” So basically, they have someone watch the phones, but they also say, if you have an auto-attendant, you could set the auto-attendant to say that you’re in a 30-minute team-building activity: “We’ll be right back.” Again, good idea. I just think, with all these types of meetings, if you want to do it regularly, get it on the schedule, set it up and have it every week and, that way, it becomes cadence and everyone knows what to expect. And, of course, the last one here: “Tech companies in the Bay Area figured this out long ago. It’s called the Friday afternoon beer bash.” So there you go. Beer seems to help there as well.
- Taking over an MSP
Brief: If you were a senior tech and the owner offered you the business, would you take it?
So, next up, we have someone here who is considering taking over the MSP. So he’s wondering if anyone here has any experience working in MSP and then maybe buying it over from their bosses, or just regular buying over an existing MSP: “What are your experiences?” So maybe you’re an employee at an MSP or a senior tech. The owner is ready to retire. You might have the option to buy him out or maybe he would just give it to you, or whatever. Is that something that you want to do? It’s an interesting topic and probably the best response here is within a comment. He says, “I’m a company owner. Built up my business from scratch but worked at other MSPs before starting my own. Things to look out for is the amount of time you’ll be spending on administration. Finance stuff, employee stuff, legal stuff, educational stuff and so forth. You’re going to go from a 9-to-5 job to a 24/7, 365 job.”
So, basically, as a tech, you’ve got your set hours you work. Then you go home. When you’re the owner and you take it over, you’re basically always on. There’s always something that you might have to watch out for, you’ve always got your phone on you, those types of things. So you have to decide, from a lifestyle perspective, if that is something that you want. This guy even goes on to say you might end up making more money as a tech than you would as an owner, but you don’t necessarily have the freedom. Being an owner, the buck stops here. You can say what happens, you can set your schedule, you can do what you want to do, and tell others what to do for you. So that gives you that freedom as an owner to do those types of things. Anyway, good advice here. Check that out in the comments.
- Volume discounts at MSPs
Brief: Don’t. Ever. The bigger the volume, the bigger the issues
And then finally, this one actually made me laugh a little bit. First off, they’re asking about volume discounts on an MSP contract. So, do you offer any discounts on the volume of computers/users supported? For instance – and, now, this is not the real price – your normal contract price is $20 dollars per computer per month. Do you reduce that price if the customer has over 25, 50, a hundred computers? So they’re offering 10 percent off over twenty-five computers, 20 percent off over 50, and 30 percent off over 100. And all of their customers are less than 150 users. So, if a customer has 120 computers, then 25 would be at full price, 25 at 10 percent, 50 at 20 percent, 20 at 30 percent, those types of things.
It’s an interesting concept, it’s an interesting question. And being in the software industry for as long as they have been, volume discounts in the software are not unheard of. Even volume discounts on manufactured goods are very commonplace, because, “Hey, I’m going to buy 10,000 of these things. Give me a cut on the price,” right? Because you’re going to be buying so many. In a manufactured good – that includes software – you make it, you sell it, that’s it. You obviously have to support it as well. What’s different here is services. Everybody, pretty much all the comments, bring this up. Services – you have to provide that service, that body, that tech for a 20-person company as you do for 150. You might even have to have more techs, and now you’re cutting the price.
They also say that the bigger the customer, the more-complex and trickier and more issues that come up and it may end up costing you more money in the long run. So the general consensus here is, don’t do it, don’t do volume discounts for services. Volume discounts for manufactured goods like software – no issue. Volume discounts for services – you could be getting yourself into trouble. Of course, if you’re out there listening and you have any other comments on that, you can come in on the Reddit thread, you can go to mspvoice.com, comment on the blog post for this episode. I would love to hear your feedback.
So with that, let’s go ahead and get on with our interview with Robert, and I hope you have a great week.
MSP Voice Podcast
Doug: Hello and welcome. Today I am joined by Robert Merva of Avrem Technologies, based out of the greater Youngstown, Ohio area. Robert welcome. Tell us a little about yourself.
Robert: Hey, everybody. So I’ve been in IT for probably close to 20 years at this point. I started pretty young. I think a lot of people in the industry at the time started tinkering and toying around with computers in their spare time. But I actually went professional with it kind of fast. I got my first CompTIA certification when I was 13, I got my CCNA when I was 14 or 15, and I got my BICSI – well, I was going to get my BICSI certification when I was 16 or 17. So I kind of went full-nerd really early.
Doug: Yeah, that’s pretty young to start getting all those certifications.
Robert: Yeah, it was fun. I didn’t have a lot of hobbies, so it kind of worked out for me. But what started as the foundation of Avrem Technologies was born maybe in the early 2000s. We did a lot of consumer computer repair and a lot of home computer repair. And I actually, while I was a student in high school, got a job working for the high school, doing Active Directory management. I ran their TV station, I ran their mail server and working on some of that stuff. So I think it was a combination of the home tinkering and some of the enterprise stuff that I was doing for the school district and at a certain point, I just decided to make a business out of it. And that’s how we ended up here.
Doug: Cool. Now, were you paid by the school to do this, or …?
Robert: No. I was officially hired by the school district as the assistant director of technology, or whatever my title was, in 2007, when I graduated, but everything up until that point was a volunteer. But I didn’t mind, I got a lot of experience. I mean, I ran their web server for a couple of years. I was in the multimedia class that they had. So some of this was done as an extension of that class. I got paid in knowledge, which is fine with me because I learned a lot.
Doug: So, as you said, you guys started young. That was basically your IT career – it was working for the school as a student, then a little bit afterward, and then you just decided, “Hey, let’s make this a business.”
Robert: Yeah, it’s actually kind of a weird story. I’ve told it a lot and I’ve forgotten a lot of the details because it’s been so long. But I was in my senior-year high school economics class and my teacher walked in from a party down the hall and – I’ll never forget – he was shoving food into his face. He had, like, rice and beans or something. He was sitting there, eating, and I had been doing computer work on the side up until that point. I worked as a dishwasher for a golf course for a month. That didn’t work out too well. So, as a teenager, this was my job. This was my summer gig or whatever it was. And he just mentioned that a couple of the teachers down the hall were talking about how they didn’t think that I charged enough.
And I had wanted a lot of careers up to that point. I started out wanting to be an FBI agent. I started out, or I moved on to possibly be a doctor or a historian or a teacher, all these different things. And, for some reason, that was the moment that it clicked that this isn’t really a hobby. I could do this as a career and, for some reason, I’d never thought about it that way before. And I think before I graduated high school that spring, the company was legally organized and I’d started down that road. So it’s kind of weird, kind of cool. I’m proud of it and I think I made the right decision because I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Doug: Yeah, and you don’t have any college loans either, so that’s good.
Robert: Oh, man, what a happy benefit of going the way that I did, because that’s a huge problem now and I got really lucky by not going down that route. I’m not saying it’s for everybody but, yeah, I guess I lucked out on that one.
Doug: Yeah, and I was looking at your site. So you’ve got – what – about six or seven people?
Robert: I think we’re at nine. We went through a hiring phase this year and a little bit of last year. We hired a bunch of people. The website’s horribly out of date. I’m much better at keeping clients’ technology up and going than our own.
Doug: So it sounded like you probably started off with break-fix. And then at what point – or have you – transitioned to more of the managed-services type of approach?
Robert: Yeah. So we started doing – it wasn’t called managed services at the time – I started doing routine maintenance in 2009 for clients and it kind of flopped. A client of mine at the time – it was an insurance agency down the road here – suggested that they might be willing to pay a flat monthly fee, if I did an “all you can eat” kind of plan, and that kind of got the wheels turning and that was about 2008 or 2009.
But when I tried to actually pitch that to some other companies in the area, it didn’t go over too well. And I’ve always made the joke that if the nation as a whole is three years behind the latest technology curve of Silicon Valley or whatever that is, the Youngstown area is another 10 years behind that. And I don’t mean it disrespectfully, it’s just we’re a manufacturing town or a steel town. There’s a lot of resistance so – I don’t want to say the change in general – but, yeah, that kind of is what it comes down to.
So the idea that these companies who had got along with no IT support for 20 or 30 years were suddenly going to pay me to do that, that was not going to work. So I think we really started earnestly doing it in 2013, I would say, is when we started the transition to managed services and I came up with a three-year plan of how we were going to transition from true break-fix to true managed services and I think we kind of hit that.
Doug: Great. So do you still have some break-fix clients or do you still do that work or is it all managed services now?
Robert: One or two. We’ve got some clients that – I’m actually going to meet with one later today – they’ve been with us for 10 years at this point. We’ve tried recommending that they go on the managed services model. We think it would be better for them, but they like it the way that it is.
And, I mean, at the end of the day, I think the work and what we get paid for it is fair, so we kind of just leave them. But I really think that’s – other than a couple of small clients, two or three people – we’re a hundred percent managed services and I call myself an MSP when I’m talking about it.
Doug: Yeah, that’s great, especially being able to make that transition, pretty much get everyone over to that managed model, is great. So you said Youngstown, manufacturing. Do you guys specialize in any particular verticals? Is it manufacturing? Is it healthcare? Those types of things or whoever?
Robert: Well, I would honestly say it’s manufacturing and I just think that’s because that’s what’s in this area. I don’t think we set out to specialize in any specific vertical. I just think that, if there are a hundred thousand businesses here, I would guess the bulk of them were manufacturing anyway.
So I think that’s why that turned out that way, but one of the things that I like is process improvement and efficiency, and there is only so much process improvement you can do in an accounting firm or a law firm or whatever. There’s a lot of process improvement and modernization that you can do to a manufacturing plant. So it is just a natural fit, in addition to being the predominant kind of business that’s in the area.
Doug: OK, yeah, so you don’t have a lot of Windows 95 machines running that equipment out there, or you still do?
Robert: No, we definitely don’t. I don’t think we have anybody who’s on any old version of Windows, or anything like that. We take a pretty strong stance against that, anyway. We get it out of there as fast as we can.
Doug: Yeah. Because I know it just depends on the equipment, right? Some of it, they just have never updated it and things like that. I’ve heard some horror stories about that from other MSPs.
Robert: Yeah, and there’s definitely some clients that, when we took them over, there were some Windows 98 machines still in place and some old phone systems and stuff like that. But we don’t have a lot of turnover. We try to create a really good relationship with our clients. I think any MSP can say that. We try really hard to show them the value of what’s coming. And we’ve taken over some clients in the past that … one, in particular, sticks in my head.
They were doing their inventory and their purchase orders on legal pads and their paper budget was probably $10,000 a month. And when you can take that and modernize it and show them the value of updating some things, then anything else that’s lingering, they’re all on board to get rid of it at that point. So, yeah, I think it proves itself over time.
Doug: Okay, great. So, going to software that you use to run your business, what kind of tools do you use – RMM, PSA, accounting, all those types of things?
Robert: My push the last couple of years has been really streamlining the applications that we use. We’re down to Autotask – PSA, SolarWinds – RMM, and IT Glue for documentation, and that’s pretty much … I don’t think we stray too far outside of that stack in order to get done what we need to get done.
Doug: Yeah. That’s pretty good. Keep it lean and, that way, you know what you’re going on. So you said you leaned down a couple of years ago. How often do you re-evaluate the software that you’re using?
Robert: Pretty regularly. There’s a lot of changes going on right now and I’ve been vocal in the past about the MSPs’ relationship with the vendors of the software that we use and I think, if you Google me, you could probably find some quotes that I was not too subtle about my displeasure with some of these companies. But at least once or twice a year, I make it a point to re-evaluate everything and make sure that we’re using the best stuff. And then I constantly keep up with what ConnectWise is doing, and what Synchro is doing, or Ninja’s doing, or whatever else is out there, if for no other reason than I know what I need to push the companies that we use to try to integrate, if there’s something that’s lagging behind or …
I mean, let’s be honest, if you’ve been on the same PSA – we’ve been on Autotask since 2009 – as much as I’d love to bluff and say we’re going to jump ship once a week if we find something we don’t like, that’s not going to happen. But I want to stay educated about what’s available and what the other competitors are doing, and if it’s something that I think integrates with Autotask or that they need, I’ll do a feature request or I’ll talk to somebody about it and make sure that they’re … keeping them honest, I guess, keeping them on track.
Doug: So what about customer acquisition? Is it mostly word of mouth? Do you advertise? How do you play the customer-acquisition game?
Robert: Yeah, we started advertising within, maybe, about the last year, just to get the name out there. We’ve flown pretty much under the radar in the area for a long time and I kind of wanted to change that. We’ve got a decent reputation – I think we have a phenomenal reputation – but we’ve got a good reputation and I wanted to get that out there and grow a little bit, but it’s always been my goal to never grow too fast. And word of mouth is the best advertising that we’ve ever gotten so, no matter how many ads I put out there, or billboards or whatever we’re doing, it ultimately comes down to referrals or being vigilant about asking for them. And that’s just been the best advertising we do. So we do a little bit of advertising but nothing is as good as word of mouth.
Doug: OK. That’s what a lot of folks tell me. It’s mostly word of mouth, and advertising – it’s a tough game, especially if you’re trying to do AdWords and Facebook and all these other areas, you know, what really pays off. So, understanding that, this has basically been … your entire career is managed services, starting this business. But what advice, looking back on it, would you have for someone that’s maybe just looking to get into this business?
Robert: Get your processes and procedures down pat, right off the bat. The amount of time that I wasted – not wasted – but the amount of time that I spent over the years of re-evaluating processes and trying to catch them up to what we were doing. Had I spent a little bit more time in the beginning, had I known that it was going to be so important, when we were slow and when I had nothing to do all day – because we didn’t have any clients – I would have spent a lot more of that time focusing on how the process is going to work five years down the road when we have more clients, when we have more techs, when we have more divisions.
It’s never too early to start that and you’re not going to necessarily know what your business is going to look like in five years, especially if you grow pretty rapidly, but you can play devil’s advocate with yourself and try to figure it out, and always focus on processes that scale, whether you’re a one-man shop or ten-man shop, or you’re trying to be a hundred-guy shop or whatever the case may be. Get that stuff down pat as soon as you can and start thinking about it because we probably spent a good three years messing around with that stuff and it kind of held us back a little bit in the growth of the company because we spent so much time screwing around with it.
Doug: That’s great advice. So, thinking about being in managed services, what’s your favorite part about it? What do you love?
Robert: Oh, man, I love everything about this job, I really do. It sounds really cheesy and really corny but I could probably count on one hand the number of times I didn’t want to wake up in the morning to go to work. It’s just phenomenal. I love problem-solving and I think, as I look back at all the different careers that I thought about picking, they all had problem-solving in common, whether it was medicine or law or whatever, solving that mystery. I love that, so that aspect of it, I love.
I’m big on efficiency and I’m kind of “OCD”. So this turned out to be a pretty good career to do that as well. And I just like coming up with solutions. I like somebody presenting me with a problem and, “Here are three different ways that we can fix it. Let’s try one.”
Doug: Yeah, that’s great. That’s what attracted me to IT as well, that idea of problem-solving and you’ve got to figure out what’s going on and sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s like really, really strange. But that’s the world of IT.
Doug: So what’s the worst thing about being in the managed services biz?
Robert: Um …
Doug: Tough one, huh? I know, you said how much you love it, which is great.
Robert: It’s not all rosy. I think to try to find something that’s MSP-specific would be difficult because I am pretty sure that at some level every business is basically the same. We all kind of have the same problems. The thing I think that frustrates me the most – and I’m not 100 percent sure how to solve it, and I’ve toyed with different ideas myself on what the solution might look like – more than any other industry, I think, IT has this issue where people who are wholly unqualified to be in this business are in this business. And I love competing with people who I think are good or better than me. That’s exciting that’s fun. It’s better for the clients, it’s better for me, it’s better for them.
What drives me crazy is going into some of these places where the previous IT guy or previous IT company, or whatever the case is, has just done a terrible job and the staying power that companies like that have. You would think that the market would weed those people out over time for some reason but, because a lot of people don’t understand technology, I think it lets people like that continue to thrive or at least exist. Maybe they’re not thriving but they do good enough that they can maybe pull the wool over their clients’ eyes or sneak some things in there where they shouldn’t, and just having to go up against that every now and then is incredibly frustrating. To try to explain to somebody who doesn’t understand IT in the first place why the guy charging 20 bucks an hour isn’t the same. I can’t compete with that but there’s a reason. And that’s frustrating to me.
Doug: Yeah, I can imagine. So one thing I meant to ask you about too is, you have a team there. Do you have dedicated sales folks? Dedicated salespeople, whether they be inside or outside or …?
Robert: You’re looking at him. Yeah, I think pretty soon we might be to the point where it’s time to look at maybe – and I wouldn’t call them salespeople, I don’t even like … I always tell people, I’m a way better engineer than I am a sales person – but we might be to a point where some account management is necessary and getting out there and doing that kind of thing, but I have regular meetings with my clients a couple of times a year. I think that it’s my business, I believe in it, I can pitch it the best. I realize that doesn’t scale, going back to scalable processes, but we might be on that point. But for right now it’s just me.
Doug: OK. If it’s working and it’s got you are where you are today, then that sounds like it’s working good for you. Thinking about technology, whether it’s MSP-specific or consumer or whatever, what technologies are you most excited about today, or that are in the near future that you’ve heard about?
Robert: That’s an interesting question. I’m actually a pretty low-tech guy, believe it or not. If I weren’t in this business, I would probably not have a computer at all. The technology that I’m excited about doesn’t have anything to do with IT. It’s more gene-manipulation and what’s going on there, and some of the technology that comes from renewable resources, and some of the things that they’re doing in that kind of area. I was just reading a story the other day about – and I’m probably getting this wrong because I just skimmed the article – but it’s essentially an organism or a bacteria that breaks down radioactive components, and it doesn’t solve the problem completely but it was interesting to me that people are working on that kind of thing. So I think, in terms of some of either medical or environmental technologies that are coming out, that stuff’s fascinating to me and I think that’s the stuff that’s going to change the world.
Doug: That’s great. What about the technology that worries you? What are you worried about?
Robert: Well, I don’t know, because I think – not to sound too corny here – but I think technology, in general, is a good thing, as long as it’s applied properly. The same stuff that I’m excited about probably has some negative connotations and some negative side-effects to it, if it were used the wrong way, so I don’t think there’s anything that’s particularly scary. I’m not really one of those people who thinks that robots are going to take over the world when AI starts. I think that’s kind of like a Y2K thing. I think the use of technology is probably scarier than anything. And I think it could be used for as much bad as for good. So I just think we need to keep an eye on how we’re using it, and then just make sure that it’s being used appropriately.
Doug: OK. That makes good sense. So, we are now to the fun part, towards the end here. We call it the rapid-fire round. So I’ve got …
Robert: Bring it on.
Doug: … six questions. Just don’t think about it. Just whatever answer comes to mind first is good. All right, here we go. Apple or Android?
Doug: Mac, Linux or Windows?
Doug: Amazon or Azure or something else?
Oo, um … Azure.
Doug: Okay. Local backups, cloud or both?
Doug: Okay. Should you always virtualize – yes or no?
Doug: Okay. And finally, which is worse – printer support or vendor cold calls.
Robert: Vendor cold calls, no question about it. Actually, we don’t have too much of a problem with printer support here. I know that’s the IT joke, that printers are miserable but, knock on wood, it’s not a huge deal, so I take printer support any day.
Doug: OK. That makes sense. I get a lot of calls and emails, too, from vendors, so I know it can be time-consuming and somewhat annoying. OK, so that pretty much wraps things up. Anything else you want to let people know before we leave – tips, tricks, pearls of wisdom?
Robert: I don’t know. I’m really not that wise, I’ve been faking it for a while. I guess the only thing that I would say is, regardless of what business you’re in, regardless of what industry you’re in, as long as you love what you do – I recognize that I’m fortunate in that aspect, some people don’t have the same opportunity – but I think that’s hugely important. And just try to find the joy in what you do, and I think it really helps.
Doug: Great. And, as you said, I think the fact that you got into this business so early – it’s basically been your career and you still love it – I think it speaks volumes about the fact that you are doing what you love.
Robert: I definitely am.
Doug: OK, Robert, thank you very much. I appreciate it and I hope to see you around sometime.
Robert: Absolutely. Thank you very much.