UCaaS was a do-or-die proposition for MSP customers last year.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

December 13, 2021

5 Min Read

Company Name: Colden Company Inc.
Company MSP 501 Rank: 163
President: James Lapointe
Headquartered: Ballston Spa, New York

Primary Services

  • Disaster recovery

  • Green technology

  • Security

  • Voice

  • Infrastructure

Twitter: @coldenco

Investing in UCaaS and Microsoft have paid dividends for Colden Company.


Colden Company’s James Lapointe

President James Lapointe founded the MSP in 2003 with Unix administrator experience under his belt. As a result, he brought a natural skepticism toward the Microsoft environment into his new company. Moreover, negative experiences with Microsoft backed up that skepticism in Colden’s early stages. However, Lapointe said Microsoft made the improvements necessary to win him over.

“Over time, Microsoft proved to us that they were all-in on Microsoft 365,” Lapointe told Channel Futures. “The product stabilized on the Exchange side, and Microsoft continued to add more and more value into its subscriptions. Eventually the value became undeniable.”

Lapointe spoke about his company and the pivots it has made in an interview with Channel Futures.

Channel Futures: What new opportunities and challenges came with the global COVID-19 pandemic?

James Lapointe: The need for UCaaS was an obvious opportunity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that still relied on an analog phone system did not have effective and cohesive ways of reaching remote workers. Remote workers, in turn, needed better communication tools to effectively perform their jobs, and UCaaS was the conversation to have with those companies. In the initial throws of the stay-at-home order, we were very busy converting customers who did not have flexible voice systems to our hosted-PBX platform. This was an immediate need for several customer, who really could not conduct business from home locations. It’s tough to make money when your customers can’t reach you.

Microsoft Teams was another component of UCaaS, whether or not the business is using Teams as its voice platform or just utilizing the other features of the product. We developed an implementation strategy for Teams which included a planning session, and a pilot project. We found that just turning a customer loose on Teams led to a failed implementation. Planning and organizing the deployment led to more widespread adoption. The adoption leads to the customer realizing the value of the product.

On the challenges front, supply chain issues were a big issue. I bet every MSP reading this had difficulty sourcing laptops and web cams in the early stages of the pandemic. There are still supply chain challenges today, more than a year after the start of the pandemic. We had to widen our vendor umbrella a bit to accommodate customer needs.

CF: Tell us the story of the biggest pivot you’ve ever had to execute.

JL: I started my career as a Unix administrator. Unix guys are naturally skeptical of the Microsoft ecosystem. I would job my Microsoft certified peers often with things like “My Unix servers never blue-screen” or “Oh, that vulnerability affects your servers? Not mine!” At Colden Company, we were beta testers of Office 365, as it was called then, and we did not have a good experience. We stuck to Hosted Exchange providers and on-premise Exchange for quite a while.

Over time, Microsoft proved to us that they were all-in on Microsoft 365. The product stabilized on the Exchange side, and Microsoft continued to add more and more value into its subscriptions. Eventually the value became undeniable. We pivoted full force into Microsoft 365, converting our hosted Exchange customers, sending technical staff to Microsoft training, getting certified and marketing the value to our customer base.

Today we have a tiered implementation approach with email being the first adoption point, then deploying the table stakes of the subscription like OneDrive for Business, Teams and SharePoint. Once those foundational components are in place, we can pivot to business process improvement with tools like Power Automate, Microsoft Planner, Power BI etc. The implementation of the full suite of tools Microsoft provides with the subscription is where customers are really getting the full value for their money. Who would have thought a Unix guy would be such a Microsoft fan?

CF: Why are you a business owner instead of working for someone else? What is the allure of entrepreneurship to you?

JL:I always excelled at being a leader and being organized – two very important traits if you are going to be successful as a business owner. Everyone has worked for someone else at one point in their life. I am no different. At my first “real” job out of college, I soaked up knowledge with the idea that someday I could apply what I learned to my own entrepreneurial venture when the time was right. I learned and learned until I realized I will never…… learn it all in this business. I am still learning today, which is one of the main reasons why I enjoy the work that I do. Today, although, as a business owner I might not be “in the weeds” technically as I once was, it is still important to have a solid understanding of the technology your business is implementing.

As a young ambitious employee, I would say I was very productive, but perhaps a bit of a pain to my managers with my desire to change and improve. I was employee of the year my first full year with the company but grew tired of the slow pace at which change as affected. I took my skills and started Colden Company Inc.

Looking back, I had no idea what a ride it would be and how my outlook would change. What I learned as an entrepreneur which I did not learn as an employee is the value of the people around you. Part of good leadership is knowing how and when to surround yourself with talented people. A business that replies on a single person can only grow so far. Colden Company could not be me, it had to be led by me with the right people in the right positions to excel.

My vision of what entrepreneurship means may be a bit different today than it was as a younger man, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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