The Power Of Adaptability And Finding The Right People For Success

  • Company: Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office
  • Year Founded: 1959
  • Headquartered: New York City
  • Geographic Market: New York and the Philadelphia metro regions
  • Top Growth Indicator: Ability to adapt to market
  • YoY % Of Growth: 7%–14%
  • CEO And Founder: Larry Weiss
  • Executive VP And Chief Technology Officer: Bill McLaughlin

What Are The Top Three Metrics You Use To Measure Your Business And Why?

Anyone can sell technology. But what truly separates you is how well you implement it for your clients and continue to support them. If you hire the right people and your employees are happy, then that’s going to translate into a high level of customer service. Finding great technology is easy, but finding good people to sell that technology is tough. That’s why you need to find good people, bring them into your organization, and empower them to sell your service. That’s when the magic happens and what differentiates you from your competitors.

For this reason, I would say we use four metrics:

  • Revenue
  • Profitability
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Customer service

What’s The Top Lesson You Had To Learn That Allowed You To Kick-Start Your Business Growth?

It’s simple: failing. We didn’t get to where we are today without failing and learning.

Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office began as a traditional copier company in 1959, and Larry Weiss bought it out of bankruptcy in 1982. Larry has always been one of the first people in our market to recognize market changes and actively look for ways we can diversify our organization to sustain growth for us and our clients. As a result, we’re regularly looking for ways to adapt and grow.

About 13 years ago, we became involved with the setup and management of networks. At this point, we were primarily a break-fix workshop, but as copiers — our original niche — we became more and more connected to the network, and we realized we had to adapt again.

We made the transition from break-fix workshop to project-oriented IT and dove into the deep end as an MSP 10 years ago. That has been one of our biggest growth engines. Since then, we’ve diversified our options, added new services, and acquired a few offices across our region.

To put this in perspective, in 2010, we raked in $50 million in revenue. This past fiscal year, we exceeded $160 million. None of this would be possible without acknowledging we were operating “the wrong way” and quickly adjusting the areas where we were falling short.

Our leadership team makes it a point to be involved in every department. This gives us a great vantage point to understand what necessary changes need to be made as the business evolves. We could see firsthand that processes that were working great at the $1–$2 million revenue mark no longer worked when we hit $5–$7 million. And then those processes became outdated when we hit $12 million. In order to sustain growth and retain high-value customers, we need to accept failure, learn, and move on with a better process in place.

What Would You Say Has Been The Single Secret To Your Success In The Past Year?

Larry has instilled this practice in our company, but the secret is adaptability to the market. Tech is constantly evolving, and vetting out solutions that actually address our customers’ needs is extremely valuable.

The ransomware epidemic is a great example. Our clients look to us for solutions from a risk standpoint that give them optimal protection. We have to be able to assess the infrastructure needed for our clients and offer that level of security to address their needs.

It all goes back to getting in the trenches to understand the processes in your company and your clients’ needs. We have to listen to the feedback we receive from sales and marketing to understand what our clients are looking for, then swiftly speak to that market.

What Was The Biggest Challenge You Had To Overcome This Past Year Related To Your Growth Or As A Result Of That Growth?

We’ve all faced the specific challenges that come with IT sales. Not only do you need a great salesperson to acquire clients you can truly help, but you also need that salesperson to understand technology. They have to dial for dollars and articulate the value proposition of your solutions in a very different way than when selling a standard product. That’s been tough for us to find.

Who Would You Say Is The Most Impactful Business Leader Or Thought-Leader Whose Techniques Or Leadership Style You Try To Emulate Or Are Influenced By? Why?

I first met Leif Babin about six years ago and had him speak to our leadership teams five years ago. Leif has become a friend of mine, and he’s a tremendous mentor for me.

Leif and his business partner, Jocko Willink, are former Navy SEALs who led military teams to restore peaceful order in one of the most violent cities in Iraq in 2006, among countless other missions they completed as leaders in the special operations forces. Today, Jocko and Leif lead Echelon Front, an organization dedicated to teaching those very leadership skills they learned as SEALs to business leaders across the U.S.

I always understood sales and business, but Leif helped me gain a different perspective on how to apply my leadership principles downstream in the organization; everyone is focused on the same goal.

Who Has Helped You On This Journey?

Larry Weiss has given me this opportunity. He has provided so much support, and we wouldn’t have the MSP we have today without his guidance and vision.

I also have to recognize my personal management team. They make it happen, have a vision, are empowered, and make great decisions. Without them driving our plan, we wouldn’t have grown to where we are today.

What Book Would You Recommend That Other MSPs Trying To Grow Their Business Should Read?

If you’re looking to grow and create a certain type of culture, then “The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers” by Keith McFarland provides you with the road map and insight on how to get there. I didn’t even realize how many “aha!” moments I had until I started living and adjusting to these lessons. As your business starts to grow, you get an idea of how your pitfalls were disrupting your growth and how to avoid making the same mistakes.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” and “The Dichotomy of Leadership,” both co-authored by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink. As your team and business grow, you have to gain a better understanding of how to manage and empower the people toward the same goals. Leif and Jocko’s books provide you with the tools to get there.

In Closing, Are There Any Words Of Wisdom That You Would Give To Other MSPs Looking To Grow Or Build A Successful Exit For Their Business?

Be open and willing to constant change, but ensure you are doing it in a meaningful way. You have to make calculated moves, provide your team with proper training, and verify that these adjustments are possible. You can change, but it needs to be done methodically.