detroit IT: perfect blend of talent and tech

 Eric Grundlehner: “When you call in, we actually know who you are and we’ve probably worked with you before. It’s as if we were your help desk and sitting in your basement.”

Eric Grundlehner: “When you call in, we actually know who you are and we’ve probably worked with you before. It’s as if we were your help desk and sitting in your basement.”

By Ilene Wolff

When information technology company Detroit IT faced losing one of its technicians, the business pulled a solution out of its technology bag of tricks to keep its team intact.

The Troy, MI-based IT service, consulting and cloud solutions firm helps companies by setting up and hosting cloud computing and networks, implementing security measures, managing mobile devices, enabling voice over Internet phones and service (help) desk functions.

For the highly valued service desk tech who moved to Virginia with his wife because of her new job opportunity, Detroit IT set up live-streaming to the company’s Troy location each workday. Some of the very technology that Detroit IT configures, services and trains its clients to use enables the company’s service desk expert to interact with co-workers and participate in meetings in Troy — and answer calls at his Virginia home from clients needing help.

“The customers love him, and he’s great at solving problems,” says CEO Paul Chambers to explain why his company went to such lengths to help an employee mesh his professional responsibilities with his family’s needs. The solution also keeps the employee in the company’s culture, he says.

Eric Grundlehner, Chamber’s business partner and Detroit IT’s chief technology officer, says his company’s service desk technicians build relationships with their clients in much the same way a company’s own help desk would.

“When you call in, we actually know who you are and we’ve probably worked with you before,” says Grundlehner. “It’s as if we were your help desk and sitting in your basement,” he jokes.

“We’re never going to replicate that with technology, but at the end of the day, we’re here for you 24/7,” Chambers says.

The remote employee setup also lets the IT company try out a strategy they use to help clients.

“We always like to make sure we’re testing the latest and greatest,” Chambers says.

Anecdotally, the company has more frequent requests to set up offsite employees, but usually with just a company’s computer network or cloud computing. Improved videoconferencing software, along with cheaper, faster and more reliable bandwidth, has made it possible to live stream an employee, like Detroit IT’s service desk technician, to the workplace.

Similarly, Detroit IT can also set up a manufacturer’s network so its employees can log in via a computer and live stream machines on a shop floor to be remotely monitored and controlled. As a result, the shop’s machines can work 24/7, whether employees are onsite or off.

“No longer do you have to staff a manufacturing plant for 24 hours a day,” Chambers says.

Safe and secure environments
Along with the conveniences of a network come some challenges, and Detroit IT helps clients with those as well. For example, it sets up firewalls and software for two-factor authentication for better security, along with educating clients on keeping out prying eyes through strict password policies and other safekeeping steps.

“We always follow best practices,” says Chambers.

The company employs best practices, too, for “bring your own device” (BYOD). Chambers says employees using their own desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and other handheld devices is less of a concern now that companies have started merging the practice with confidentiality and non-disclosure policies employees must sign.

Grundlehner explains that technology enables BYOD employees to enroll and install software on their devices that lets a company remotely monitor and manage them. If an employee leaves, or he loses his phone, for example, the company has the power to cut off access and wipe its data off the device.

Merging talents
Detroit IT’s CEO and CTO have each been in the IT industry about 15 years and previously owned separate companies.
For Chambers, that was Core3 Solutions in Troy, an IT management company. Core3 also provided digital marketing and web development services, functions that have been spun off into a separate company, Element5. The partners kept Core3 Solutions as the umbrella name for a family of companies (see sidebar).

Grundlehner’s previous company was the Birmingham-based Enlighten Technologies, an IT service and consulting firm.
“It’s a small town, everybody seems to know everybody,” says Chambers. “Eric and I would get together for lunch every so often … and even referred business to each other.”

The pair started working together in 2013, and formed Detroit IT in 2014 to offer more expansive solutions to customers.

Measuring growth
Detroit IT has 10 employees and has seen year-over-year sales percentage increases in the triple digits, comparing the current company with the pair’s previous firms.

“Yeah, it’s been that tremendous,” says Chambers.

He says they included “Detroit” in the name because they feel passionate about the area and share its hallmark values of hard work and grounded ethics.

“We thought of naming it Grundlehner Technologies, but rejected that idea,” says Grundlehner (a mouthful that’s pronounced groond-LAY-ner) with a laugh.

Chambers and Grundlehner have another company, Mac: Detroit, which is one of about 500 Apple Consultant Network companies in the country and the second largest in Michigan. Detroit IT is a Microsoft partner.

“We really offer one-stop shopping,” Chambers says.

Odd bedfellows spell success

Q: What’s the link among cloud computing, funky socks and men’s grooming?

A: They’re all part of Core3 Solutions’ “big happy family of brands.”

Thanks to three members of Core3’s family — Detroit IT, Mac: Detroit and Element5 — businesses can set up computer networks, employ cloud computing, get a website and market themselves on the Internet.

But thanks to two other family members, joint ventures that are partially owned by Core3’s Paul Chambers and Eric Grundlehner, you can get random pairs of socks, from Random Socks, or a monthly box of items for the fashionable male, from Gentleman’s Box.

They were both Core3 clients and offered an opportunity to invest. Random Socks are seconds from a local shop that makes branded socks for sports teams, fraternities/sororities, organizations and events. Gentleman’s Box, in Farmington Hills, claims to be the first subscription service for today’s gentleman. For a fee, the subscriber gets a themed box each month with grooming aids, a copy of GQ magazine and accessories. For example, the secret agent box contained the magazine, USB cufflinks, a tie, a pair of socks and a sample of facial cleanser.