Building the Perfect IT Beast: Sourcing and Keeping the Best Tech Pros

A managed IT offering is only as strong as the people behind it. Sure, it helps to have all of the tools/software/systems that can serve all the needs of a customer. But from savvy account reps to engineers and specialists, the team behind your logo is your company’s value proposition. Their ability (or inability) to deliver on the program will go a long way toward cultivating your reputation in the field.

As such, in conjunction with our State of the Industry report, we’ve asked our august assembly of managed IT providers to detail the difficulties in securing quality IT professionals, along with their methods in compiling a crackerjack team.

Dan Lamborn, EBS

The high demand for skilled professionals in the technology field can be a tall task, notes Dan Lamborn, corporate director of managed IT services for Edwards Business System in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tack onto that challenge of the rapid pace of advancements and the evolving nature of IT roles—requiring professionals to keep their skills and certifications maintained—and you have a hotly-contested job market.

Competitive salaries and benefits, which are no small considerations, is the first step toward sourcing and retaining the best IT pros. “Providing opportunities for professional development, such as training programs and certifications, can also help employees enhance their skills and stay updated on industry trends,” Lamborn pointed out. “Creating a positive work culture that values collaboration, innovation, and work-life balance can contribute to employee satisfaction and retention. Additionally, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace can attract a wide range of talent and promote creativity and problem-solving skills within the team.”  

Jeff Loeb, Vitis Technologies

There’s much to be said for recruiting high-caliber individuals, particularly entry-level engineers, at an early age and training them on your methods and platform. That is the case for Vitis Technologies, the managed IT branch of Cincinnati-based Prosource.

According to President Jeff Loeb, it’s important to not overlook soft skills like communications. As they will be interacting with clients, an MSP would prefer to have friendly, personable team members as opposed to the stereotypical arrogant IT professional. Customers will want to feel taken care of as opposed to belittled or spoken down to.

Culture is the operative word, Loeb notes. “It’s a fun, rewarding environment where our people work well together,” he said. “We do key-person interviews, where new employees spend time with key contacts in our organization. I ask them to tell me something that has surprised them about our company, and it’s almost always the same answer: what a great culture we have, how friendly and cooperative everyone is, and how everyone here is willing to jump in and help.”

Benny Russert, Vitis Technologies

Once onboarded, Vitis seeks to do everything in its power to train, empower and retain these valued personnel, adds Benny Russert, Vitis’ director of technology alignment. “We do that by creating a great work environment where they have the opportunity for upward movement within the organization as well as within their skill set,” he said. “We know not everyone will have a 25-plus year career with us, so we aim to give them the best experience and support them to become a highly skilled professional who is successful in their career. While they’re with Vitis, they’re adding value to our organization, and if they do move on, we hope that they’re great proponents of our name and our culture out in the workforce.”

James Loffler, Loffler Companies

Another provider that has long leveraged its reputation of fostering a quality work environment is Loffler Companies. President James Loffler notes the rep has allowed it to be selective about who joins the fold. There’s something to be said for a management team that is focused on the success of the individuals in addition to the team.

“This passion for shared success makes it easier to attract talent and grow high performing teams,” he said. “The availability of talent has become stretched at times but our management team has stayed nimble, creative and focused on finding the right players.”

Blake Renegar, Kelly Office Solutions

Word of mouth is no small consideration as well. Don’t let the reputation of aloof/uncommunicative IT players fool you; they talk just as much as other titles within their tight fraternity. That’s why it’s important to tap your current team members to help shine the light on possible staff additions, notes Blake Renegar, the director of managed network services for Kelly Office Solutions of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“These guys run around in the same circles, or they’ve worked together in the past,” Renegar noted. “I’ve been able to build a team almost entirely by referrals. We also have a recruiter specific to engineers, and our engineers have done a fantastic job. My current team is entirely ex-military and one guy from law enforcement, which is tremendous because they understand discipline and hard work. When they see a problem, they can work well under pressure and fix it.”

Dan Strull, GoodSuite

Building a formidable IT team comes with caveats. Dan Strull, CEO of GoodSuite in Woodland Hills, California, points out there’s no lack of candidates seeking to join a growing MSP, particularly one that focuses on skill development. But the growing reality is there are many job-seekers who want to work remotely. As GoodSuite needs field personnel, this can narrow down the field of candidates.

From an HR perspective, copier and IT hires are akin to comparing apples and oranges. “There is a balance that needs to be met,” he said. “It’s not easy to hire the right person if you are long used to hiring in the copier space. It’s a very different process.”

Erik Crane, CPI Technologies

Then there’s the philosophy that if you want honey, go to the bee hive. Erik Crane, president and CEO of CPI Technologies in Springfield, Missouri, partners with local universities and technical colleges, which has proven to be fertile ground for recruiting.

“These young people are looking for a place where they can help people and have a career,” Crane said. “We have ample opportunities for both at CPI Technologies.”

Erik Cagle
About the Author
Erik Cagle is the editorial director of ENX Magazine. He is an author, writer and editor who spent 18 years covering the commercial printing industry.