NextGen 101 Profile: JR-Tech’s Pivots and Investments Make for ‘Stickier’ Clients

The MSP grew and pivoted to maintain and raise the standards of service and security at a high level.

Allison Francis

December 27, 2021

8 Min Read

Company Name: JR-Tech

Company NextGen 101 Rank: 4

CEO: Jarom Renfeldt

Headquartered: Lake Elsinore, California

Primary Services: Migrations, managed services, network infrastructure, business productivity, VoIP and video surveillance

Twitter: @JRTechTimes

JR-Tech, No. 4 on our illustrious 2021 NextGen 101 list, is hyper-focused on elevating their clients as market conditions change. Like all companies, JR-Tech had to find ways to pivot to remote work when the pandemic hit. This meant closely examining and changing a few of their approaches. 

One such pivot came in the form of scalability. This meant setting up the organization to grow and keep the standards of service and security at a high level. Documentation proved to be a saving grace for the company in this area. By creating a culture of documentation, JR-Tech inherently created structure and repeatability of best-in-class processes and procedures. 


JR-Tech’s Jarom Renfeldt

CEO Jarom Renfeldt dives deeper into the pivots and subpivots the company has made and how to make the biggest impact on clients. He also talks about compliance, the wisdom in and importance of robust cybersecurity, and how to be a true competitive differentiator.

Channel Futures: So what is one thing you wish vendors would do that they don’t? 

Jarom Renfeldt: We wish that vendors were more channel-focused. There are a couple ways where we believe vendors could make improvements for MSPs.

First would be vendor participation in MSP events. We appreciate when they are at events and actively participating in the channel, not just to sell products. It seems that events would be a good opportunity to get channel feedback. This means insights about their products and improvements for next-gen applications and to anticipate future market demand. 

Download the full 2021 MSP 501 list here. Then keep your eyes on this space for the 2022  MSP 501 application period to open!

Second would be to create MSP channel exclusive products. This could include products that had extra features (think Costco) and truly exclusive products that cannot be purchased by in-house IT or non-MSP providers. Additional product extensions could include next gen features to help MSPs with compliance issues (for example, documentation, proof of installation, reporting or record of use).

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

JR: COVID-19 brought to light our existing security and remote user policies. Our clients were very appreciative because we had prepared them in advance of the COVID shutdowns. We supplied equipment, software, internet upgrades and hardware to work remotely in a safe manner.  

We prepared ourselves to work seamlessly from home as well. Our staff could work from access to tools and phones. Once we were prepared, we rolled out to our clients the type of remote access and seamless work environment we were implementing for ourselves. Our clients saw in us an example of what employee’s working remotely could be.  

They appreciated that we were weeks ahead of the curve and anticipated the extent of the shutdowns. When the shutdown hit, we and our clients were prepared to keep business moving forward in a safe manner while working from remote locations.

CF: What do you love about the IT channel? Also, what do you dislike about it? 

JR: Most people in the channel are very helpful to each other. They are willing to share scar tissue from their previous mistakes. This includes …

… other MSP owners, and vendors. There are kind people willing to help you grow at various points in the journey. People in the channel genuinely want to help others succeed and grow.

What we don’t like about the channel are those who are doing the industry a disservice by providing shoddy cyber protection and service to their clients. It gives our industry a bad reputation and clients don’t know who to trust due to bad past experiences. It is hard for potential clients to discern good IT service from bad, through marketing and advertising, so they feel distrustful of the channel. That is, until they get to a reputable IT provider.

CF: What was the single biggest technology or business decision that drove your company’s growth in 2020? And in the first half of 2021? How did it do so? 

JR: Our biggest decision in 2020 had to do with our pivot to remote users, for our employees and our clients.  

In early February 2020, I saw that COVID-19 was surging and that it was going to affect businesses in a big way. With the support of my management team we went “all in” to get JR-Tech and our employees able to work remotely and to work seamlessly. This meant employees had to have hardware, software internet at home to function properly.  

One of the best decisions we made was to have employees take home company phones. In this way we could field phone calls, transfer calls and work as if we were all in the office. By doing so, our clients did not see an interruption or drop in service level while maintaining our own security.

Once we were set up to work remotely, we were able to take our model and demonstrate to our clients how they could safely work remotely too. Most of our clients immediately saw the wisdom and recognized the threat COVID-19 and the shutdown could do to their business. Therefore, most of our clients were ready to work remotely when the shutdown order came on March 17.  

The preparation work with our clients weeks in advance paid off for them and for us. We surveyed our remote client users and they gave us “top box” satisfaction scores. The only issues cited in our surveys had to do with home users and their own home internet speeds.  

The transition to a remote workforce for our clients was a complete success and made for “stickier” clients.

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

JR: The biggest pivot we had to make with JR-Tech was the pivot from “time and materials” to managed services and then various subpivots as we grew. 

Back in 2014, I felt I had reached my potential as a single owner, operator of my business with time and material clients. I invested in proper tools and started acting like an MSP with my existing clients. They loved it, and many came on as MSP clients. Those who didn’t, I was genuinely sorry to see them go. But I saw the future of my business as an MSP.

I then invested in marketing and advertising and quickly grew. That spurred me on to hiring techs. The interesting subpivot was getting clients who were used to just seeing me used to seeing other techs who could also help them. We made several early mistakes when it came to hiring, but we continue to figure out the best hiring processes as market conditions change.

Another subpivot came to scalability — setting up the organization to grow and keep the standards of service and security at a high level. For instance, documentation proved to be …

… a saving grace in this area. So, by creating a culture of documentation, we inherently created structure and repeatability of best-in-class processes and procedures. A part of our scalability pivot was implementing QBRs. By implementing regular business meetings, our clients met more of our management staff. As a result, they realized we were a bigger, more business savvy IT provider. They realized how serious we were about wanting to contribute to the growth of their business through IT, rather than just making a desktop work properly.

The next subpivot was toward cybersecurity. I willingly paid a lot to get the best next-gen cybersecurity products to protect my business and my clients’ businesses. The investment was financially hard, but eventually became a significant advantage to our business. It gave me the confidence in new business meetings knowing that the investment in our toolset was in the client’s best interest for their security and peace of mind and is a true competitive differentiator for JR-Tech. 

In the last year with COVID-19, we invested in keeping our clients secure with a remote workforce. Also in 2020, we have invested in providing compliance remediation. In California, we have stringent laws about cybersecurity for most businesses. We also have industry compliance issues including HIPPA, NIST 800-171 and the upcoming Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). So, we are taking the lead in these areas and guiding businesses through a complicated compliance process.

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

JR: The allure of entrepreneurship to me has been about service and making a positive impact on others.

By being a business owner, I am able to serve more people. In terms of growing my business, I am able to hire and create more jobs which support families in our local communities. 

Also by being a business owner, I am able to serve and make a bigger impact for my clients. I can do this by providing them a safe, secure and stable IT platform to grow their businesses and provide more jobs for people. We serve businesses that earn more than $500 million dollars in our regional economy.  (I’m humbled by this …)

By being a business owner, I am able to protect more businesses through proper cybersecurity tools, processes and procedures. As a member of the FBI Infragard, the mission to keep our infrastructure and country safe from cybercriminals involves all of us in IT doing our part. This means building awareness and educating business owners about the dangers and how to keep their businesses safe from hackers and cybercriminals. Therefore, it is a mission I’m happy to contribute to!

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About the Author(s)

Allison Francis

Allison Francis is a writer, public relations and marketing communications professional with experience working with clients in industries such as business technology, telecommunications, health care, education, the trade show and meetings industry, travel/tourism, hospitality, consumer packaged goods and food/beverage. She specializes in working with B2B technology companies involved in hyperconverged infrastructure, managed IT services, business process outsourcing, cloud management and customer experience technologies. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University. An Iowa native, she resides in Denver, Colorado.

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