MSP 501 Profile: Ottawa-Based MSP Provides ‘Grade A’ Service
Company Name: Grade A
Company MSP 501 Rank: 211
President & CEO: Mathew Lafrance
Headquartered: Ottawa, Ontario
- Managed IT services
- vCIO consulting
- Vendor management
- IT strategy development and management
- Project implementation
Mathew Lafrance, president & CEO of Ottawa-based shop Grade A, has the entrepreneurial “curse” of thinking big, being creative and taking chances. This has certainly guided his vision to building and improving Grade A, and has lent to his insight in where it needs to go in the future.
Lafrance sat down with us this week to talk about competing with larger firms, constant business evolution, and the company’s focus on larger clients with a more strategic approach to technology in the next 12-24 months.
Channel Futures: The industry is experiencing explosive growth in a number of areas. Where do you see your biggest growth areas in 2020 and beyond?
Mathew Lafrance: We’ve seen much larger clients (150+) interested in completely outsourcing their IT needs. These companies are much more comfortable not only outsourcing support, but strategy and projects and all their hardware purchasing.
I think people are really starting to understand that if they align themselves with an MSP of a higher quality, similar to a lawyer or accountant, the expertise and speed/ease of adoption of new technologies pays incredible dividends to their bottom line. I believe the next 12-24 months will see our team focusing on larger clients with a more strategic approach to technology.
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CF: What type of company do you find yourself competing with that you did not two years ago?
ML: We’ve noticed recently that as we start to service larger customers (150+ staff), nationwide MSPs, as well as those shops internalizing their IT have now become our main competition. Larger firms see transitioning to a new provider as much more of a risk than most smaller companies. Reputations can be impacted and their ability to swiftly move away from a bad provider is more difficult.
We’ve found that reference clients, standards and accreditations play a larger role in their decision process. As we compete with larger firms in these conditions, price is no longer the main point of competition. This allows us to provide a higher level of service and make the margins we need to grow.
CF: What is one thing that would create better harmony with vendors?
ML: Right now most vendors try to push their way into getting our business. Rarely do they seek to understand how we package our services or how our agreements with our clients are built. They would have much more success in positioning their product if they took the time to understand how we price and scope our services.
CF: How does your organization differentiate itself from other MSPs?
ML: I want to say our people is what differentiates us, which is the reality, but it sounds too cliché. What makes Grade A true to its name is we realize that our business is in a constant evolution, and that the ongoing changes in IT create a lot of fear in our potential customers around how to effectively operate. We’ve created an offering, allowing clients to pay a fixed monthly fee for all their services; support, projects and anything anyone on our team can offer.
This strategy allows us to capture our client’s entire IT budget and focus on how to most effectively allocate it, with the goal of being the Amazon of IT spending. We know a customer migrating to the cloud is the first step in leveraging technology to their advantage. The next steps to adopt business intelligence, AI and IoT require an MSP that is willing to continually improve what it delivers and which invests in its clients’ success along the way.