Why would Jim Gast, Founder of SpliceNet, Inc. give up a good job and promising career as a chemist, solving “flavor” problems for Sunkist, Celestial Teas, Kellogg, Pepsi and Coke, to take the risky leap of starting a business?
“Quite simply, I got bit by the entrepreneurial bug in the early 90’s,” said Jim. “I had a unique ability to figure out IT problems when no one else could, and I knew small businesses were going to need someone with my techie ‘superpowers’ as more of them started using personal computers to run their business.”
Back then, Jim started dabbling in IT and web development for small businesses in his hometown of Cincinnati on nights and weekends more as a fun side gig that paid. But in a very short period of time, his “hobby” started turning into a significant opportunity.
“In the late 80’s and earl 90’s, there were very few IT professionals who knew how to install and support tech for small businesses; and designing a website was a nightmare due to the lack of software tools we have available today. If you remember, Microsoft was just gaining traction with small businesses with their Windows 97 program. It was an emerging field with a HUGE opportunity for anyone who had a knack for figuring it out,” Jim explained.
So in 1996 Jim officially quit his job and turned his part-time IT and web development endeavor into a full-time opportunity—a decision that came with risks and uncertainties.
The real estate bubble had just burst, causing an economic fallout. Jim and his wife were expecting
their first child, and she had quit her job to be a full-time stay-at-home Mom. They had also just bought their first home. Even under favorable circumstances, starting a new business is risky, but he launched SpliceNet unwaveringly and unapologetically.
“Looking back, it was a crazy decision. But I was young and ambitious – and the pressure to take care of my new family gave me a powerful motivation to succeed,” said Jim.
The leap of faith paid off; today, SpliceNet is a very successful and fast-growing cybersecurity, compliance and IT service firm serving legal, manufacturing and non-profit verticals throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan, and in its backyard in greater Cincinnati.
How He Stumbled Into Being The Premier IT Services Company For Law Firms
SpliceNet became the IT expert for law firms by accident.
While Jim is a very experienced IT veteran he knew he needed a software for managing his time and billing and he accidentally found a program used by attorneys called Timeslips.
“After installing it and using it for my own company, I had one law firm client beg me to help him install and set it up as well,” said Jim. “He told me that if
I could figure out how to make it actually work the way it was supposed to, lawyers would beat a path to my door.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
But since clients don’t want you to just fix one program or problem, he very quickly started mastering every other line of business application that law firms use, including applications such as Amicus Attorney, Time Matters, PCLaw, HotDocs, Cosmolex, iManage, and Worldox.
This expertise led to Jim being asked to consult and speak nationally to several legal associations including the American Bar Association (ABA), Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), various Inns of Court, Cincinnati Bar Association, Ohio State Bar Association, Golden Gate Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, Cincinnati Association of Legal Administrators and Cincinnati Paralegals Association.
The “No Law Firm Left Behind” Movement
When COVID-19 forced companies out of their offices to work remotely, many were left unprepared and without the tools, resources or guidance to be able to work.
“We were getting flooded with calls from attorneys and other businesses who desperately needed someone to help them transition to a remote workforce fast. A lot of IT service providers failed their clients during this time because they were unprepared themselves and therefore unable to help – and of those that survived, many took advantage of the situation by overcharging for their services,” said Jim.
This lack of IT support hit the legal industry hard, which inspired Jim to start his No Law Firm Left Behind movement, which was designed to help his legal clients survive the shutdowns. His podcast and web show offered advice, guidance and free tools for legal teams transitioning to remote working, as well as offering free assistance to law firms who were in crisis and on the brink of shutting down.
“It’s our way of giving back to the legal community,” says Jim. “We didn’t make any money from it. It’s all about providing accurate advice and support to law firms who didn’t know how they were going to survive. I’m happy to say we gave pro bono help to law firms across Florida, California, Texas, New York, Chicago, and New Jersey to keep working and billing so they could stay afloat.”
For Jim, the opportunity to give back doesn’t stop with the legal industry. He recently started No Nonprofit Left Behind and The Reboot podcasts to offer similar assistance to other hard-hit sectors, in addition to his partnership with Microsoft for Nonprofits.
Splicenet’s New Frontier: Non-Profits
By a turn of luck, Jim has now found himself quickly becoming the go-to IT company for non-profits needing cybersecurity expertise and outsourced IT support.
“Microsoft reached out to me because they were struggling to find reliable IT firms who would help non-profits install, configure and support Microsoft products,” said Jim. “Microsoft has some great money-saving discounts and grants for non-profits, but surprisingly, not many IT firms know about it or are willing to work with non-profits to help them secure them.”
Jim saw this as yet another cry for help from a community of organizations that are a force for good in the world. Today, non-profits make up 20% of his client base, and he’s getting one to two referrals a week from Microsoft.
While we’ll forever be loyal to law firms and will continue to be the “go to” guys for attorneys, we are quickly branching out into all type of different industries and in different cities around the U.S. thanks to the huge number of referrals we get from happy clients.
Jim’s Real Secret Sauce: Deeply Caring About His Customers
Jim’s success in cybersecurity and IT management comes from a guiding principle that is also non-negotiable: Give customers the absolute white-glove treatment and treat them with care and respect that goes beyond just doing a good job.
Jim gets this from the lessons he learned from watching his Mom, a single parent, raise and support two kids.
“When I was in the sixth grade, my Dad abandoned us,” Jim said. “At the time, I couldn’t understand why, and we were all scared because he was the sole income for our little family.
But my Mom was resilient and determined to take care of us. Unfortunately, the only job she had in her life (other than raising a family) was feeding chickens and pigs on a farm. So when my Dad left, she took the only job she could find, doing hard, physical labor in a nearby factory. She’d come home at nights exhausted and with sore, bleeding hands but never complained about it. She somehow managed to put food on the table when money was scarce and taught me the importance of doing a good job, being grateful and never taking anything or anyONE for granted. Those are core values I’ve carried into my business and care of customers.”
That “go the extra mile” attitude is a requirement for anyone who wants to work at SpliceNet. Having technical skills is important, but not if you don’t treat people well and have a passion for excellence and to serve others.
Free Consultation Gives You The Peace Of Mind You Want , The Certainty You Need
Another service SpliceNet provides to prospective clients is a free IT and cyber security assessment so they can know, with certainty, if their current IT person or company is doing their job. “It’s really quite shocking how many small businesses are being woefully underserved by their IT providers,” says Jim.
“Your average CEO or small business owner simply cannot know for sure if they are protected from ransomware, have their data backed up properly and are getting the service they are paying for – so many aren’t,” said Jim. “Further, no one should proofread their own work – so we offer that as a free service so they can get a qualified third party opinion and fresh eyes on their current IT infrastructure.”
To learn more about this, go to SpliceNet’s website: https://splice.net/assessment