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Weapons Grade IT Services from Geeks in Khakis

January 8, 2018

Today’s print operation depends on an ever more complex array of computers, mobile devices, and IT services. Managing the sophisticated workflow, data parsing, marketing campaigns, CCM systems and customer data protection requirements require dedicated equipment and personnel. Whether it is a small, in-house network that connects back office functions or complex, shop-floor control systems that manage multiple production devices, every system requires varying levels of oversight and technical talent.

Managing these systems requires consistently upgraded skills from experienced hands.  The question then is how best to access the necessary knowledge?

For businesses across Canada that answer is frequently IT Weapons, a Managed IT services business under the Konica Minolta umbrella of innovative, forward-looking service and support professionals.

This is the first of a 4-article series that looks at IT Weapons’ development as Canada’s premiere experts in managed IT services, and how a cultural commitment to clients and team members are the foundation of their success and ability to support the printer community. For the 4-chapter IT Weapons Grade eBook: 

So, why IT Weapons?  What sets them apart from the other professionals that provide similar services? 

The OutputLinks Communications Group asked that, and many more questions, of IT Weapons’ co-founders Ted Garner, who serves as President, and Jason MacBean, the company’s Vice President of Services and Support. We then followed-up with a visit to the very impressive IT Weapons headquarters in Toronto. 

Our interactions with the founders and their team members gave us a clearer view of what makes IT Weapons stand out. It isn’t just the endless walls and walls of awards and technical certifications that chronicle the education, training, and accomplishments of the ITW employees.  It runs deeper, into the often-overlooked and intangible company “culture.” 

To get a sense of that culture, and where it comes from, we asked Ted and Jason to share a bit of their background and tell us about the road that led them to where they are weapons gradetoday.  Each step along the way reveals the bits and bytes that shaped the business evolution and laid the foundation of IT Weapons’ distinctive culture.

Foundational Values: Ted

“I guess I love small town life.” Ted shares, “I live on a small hobby farm about 30 minutes outside of Toronto with my wife of 20+ years and our two sons.  The 30-minute drive into work lets me get ready for the day, and the drive home after work helps relieve the stresses of the day.  I enjoy our family time together, following hockey or doing martial arts training with my sons.”  Work hard, play hard.

Ted GarnerTed’s early life gave him a glimpse into the challenges and rewards of owning a business.  His parents ran their own small business, and Ted got to see first-hand the challenges and rewards of that undertaking.  The freedom of being his own boss and setting his own sail was attractive.  However, the realities of life post-college were a bit different, and Ted found himself working for a well-respected engineering organization in the aerospace industry, doing work he enjoyed in a challenging and rewarding environment.  The dream of being self-employed was overtaken by a great job in a comfortable environment and the promise of a long tenure.  Then things changed. 

“The company made a decision to outsource the IT operation.  I was offered a position with the outsourcing company, but I turned it down.  I had put my faith and trust in the organization, and the sudden shift left me feeling betrayed.”  This transition, though not too uncommon in the world of business, led to one of the foundational tenets of the future business that is IT Weapons.  It is the fundamental question that has found its way into the IT Weapons brand – “Isn’t it time you felt safe?”

That question is just as relevant to every IT Weapons employee as it is to every IT Weapons client, partner, and supplier.

Foundational Values: Jason

Jason MacBeanJason MacBean, and his wife of fifteen years are parents of two sons. One of Jason’s great loves is traveling with his family. Another of his passions is fast cars which probably led him to dream of piloting a MiG jet fighter. A dream many have, but one that Jason actually accomplished while he was in Europe! Jason has now earned his private pilot’s license. So, watch for him soaring the skies around Toronto.

Jason and Ted met while working in the IT department at the aerospace company. Jason was young and unproven, but the company rapidly recognized his value. When the company outsourced its IT operation, Jason, unlike Ted, accepted the outsource company’s job offer. Jason quickly rose to become the company’s senior technical consultant in the province. The future looked good until he experienced the shady side of a sales-oriented outsourcing business where profits trumped doing the ‘right thing’ for the customer.

Jason had thought of an idea that could save a client a considerable amount of money, and he wanted to do the ‘right thing’ by telling the client of his money saving idea. The company’s management silenced his idea and informed him that he was paid to ‘do’ and not to ‘think.' Not long after, Jason left the company and joined Ted at a mid sized computer reseller.

Ted’s, Jason’s and their parents’ work experiences, influenced IT Weapons’ Core Values.

Core Values

INTEGRITY AND EXPERTISE

Our approach to client experience has always been simple “be honest, do a good job and they will call us back.” Our core values of integrity and expertise are woven into everything we do; from our no-commission, pressure-free engagements, to our ongoing commitment to education, training, and professional development for our team. We promise that you’ll never spend more than necessary, and you’ll never buy what you don’t need.

Encouraging Words

After moving on to a new opportunity, Ted and Jason again felt the pull of entrepreneurship.  The experience at the second company did not live up to the promises made or expectations set.  Resolve hardened, and a timely piece of feedback from a mentor gave Ted the confidence to take the last step into a self-determined career.  The mentor, Roy French, was an author, boss, mentor, and friend. As Ted recalls, “I still remember in his Irish accent, he said, ’You got something. You truly care about people and doing a good job. Go do it and don't look back.’”

It was a great push that moved Ted back into thinking about entrepreneurship. 

There was a second piece of advice that struck a chord and remains a foundational tenet of the ITW culture. “Remember the fear.”  Remember the feeling of being the new employee or the new person on a team.  Remember the fear of being overwhelmed and unsure of yourself.  When you see that look on the face of a new employee, or a new teammate, or even a new client – remember the fear you felt when you were in that same situation.  And then do all you can to relieve that fear.  Make everyone feel safe.

Both Jason and Ted had an idea of what they wanted their business to be – a premiere managed IT services business built on excellent technical capabilities, continuous learning and thought leadership, and honest dialog with clients and employees.  Just as importantly, they knew what they did not want their business to be – an organization of competing objectives that would force distance between the sales and the technical processes and people. With that in mind, they committed to a developing a framework to birth what is now IT Weapons.

In the next chapter, we will see how an early recognition of client’s needs became the foundation of IT Weapons core business of managed IT services – or, “the cloud” before The Cloud.

To follow the IT Weapons journey from boutique start-up to an industry leader, download the 4-part IT Weapons Grade eBook.

 Weapons Grade Business Resilence

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