Beyond Rankings: The Value of the MSP 501 Community

The three finalists for the 2018 MSP of the Year award explain why the MSP 501 is more than just a number

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

May 2, 2019

4 Min Read

It was September 2016, and Angel and Nancy Sabino were at their first-ever managed security industry conference. Not yet 30, they were searching for guidance on how to steer their young channel shop, SabinoCompTech, into profitability. They’d tried it all: break/fix, residential, even a retail storefront. But in Phoenix that autumn, the Sabinos saw an awards ceremony for a group of top managed service providers: The MSP 501.


SabinoCompTech’s Nancy Sabino

“Us being in the middle of a transition ourselves into an MSP,” recalls Nancy Sabino, “I remember looking at my husband and telling him, ‘We need to be on this list.’”

But their desire to be on the MSP 501 had less to do with a winners logo and more to do with wanting confirmation and validation they were on the right track with their business. The Sabinos did their competitive research on those 2016 MSP 501 winners, learning about their business models, product offerings and marketing strategies. They knew it would give them a glimpse into what they needed to do in order to grow their MSP into a shop worthy of earning a spot on the 501.

Three years later, SabinoCompTech stood on a similar stage in Philadelphia at the first annual MSP 501 Awards Gala to receive their third-place award for MSP of the Year.

One of the MSPs the Sabinos researched at the start of their 501 journey was NexusTek, which was growing just as fast as it was climbing every year in the 501 rankings. CRO Mike Hamuka shared that the company values the MSP 501 as one of the most widely-anticipated and accurate indexes of managed service providers anywhere.


NexusTek’s Mike Hamuka

“In an industry that is as highly competitive as IT, our consistent ranking could be the only differentiator that is the one factor a prospect identifies when deciding to outsource,” says Hamuka. “As we move toward expanding our company and building stronger relationships with our vendors and partners, we have leveraged our positioning in the MSP501 as a show of industry influence.”

But NexusTek uses the annual MSP 501 application process as an opportunity to evaluate and reflect on how far it’s come, how well its strategy is playing out for the business and how well it’s maintaining its competitive edge. Like SabinoCompTech, NexusTek uses the rankings just as much as a benchmarking tool as it does as bragging rights.

“For us, the findings from the October 2018 report validate our strategy and execution and reinforce those key NexusTek differentiators,” says Hamuka.

Those differentiators earned NexusTek (then Cal Net) the first-place MSP of the Year award in 2018.

On the other side of the world, Australia-based Premier Technology Services, our second-place winner, also views the rankings at more than just marketing material.


Premier Technology Services’ Matthew Beesley

“It gives us a clear and objective indication of how our business is performing against our competitors,” says Matthew Beesley, founder and director. “This is hugely important to our business as our ranking drives all our strategic decisions for the future in ensuring that we remain relevant in what is a dynamic and competitive industry.”

Like Sabino and NexusTek, Premier sees the data emerging from the MSP 501 as its real benefit. Since it’s aggregated from an applicant pool that covers MSPs all sizes, specialties and geographical locations around the world, the metrics reflect a relevant, objective picture of the managed services market and allow the MSP to accurately gauge if its business decisions fall in line with where the industry is headed.

“[The win] was an acknowledgement of the courageous decisions we made throughout that year in moving 100% to a managed services program, a decision which forced us to let go of a large portion of our client base in pursuing that goal,” says Beesley. “It was a tremendous risk for the business to take, but it has paid off in droves with significant improvements in our customer service quality and continued top line revenue growth.”

Everyone loves an award, but rankings are fleeting, and the bragging rights they give MSPs fade away as the next year’s winners are revealed. It’s the data that comes from the full report and the ability to benchmark your business that really gives value to the MSP 501 community. Valuing data, strategy, innovation and business intelligence over an industry list ranking is what nabbed these three managed service providers their MSP of the Year nominations in the first place.

Want to be a part of the 2019 MSP 501? Check out our FAQ here or apply here before 11:59 p.m. ET May 31, 2019.



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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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