Foley Fuel and Lumber and Milaca Building Center, a retail hardware and lumber company, operates 2 locations in central Minnesota that struggled to communicate easily with one another through technology. IT had been more of an afterthought in the past; something to fix only when broken. As a result, the company spent a great deal of time reacting to issues, wasting both time and money.
In 2016, Milaca Building Center began evaluating the IT systems and processes used at the locations and determined the company needed tools that could bring operational efficiencies, as well as better IT management and strategy. After working with one managed services provider in Minnesota that didn’t meet Milaca’s expectations, Amy Kotsmith-Johnson, a business consultant supporting the business evaluation and plan execution, acted on a recommendation she’d been given for KLH.
Milaca’s reactive approach to IT management was creating security liabilities and reducing productivity. IT was only invested in when absolutely necessary – the company even owned a computer they’d used since 2003! Critical security patches and updates were not occurring, leaving Milaca’s systems and data vulnerable. Milaca’s reactive approach to IT management wasted time for upper management.
Other employees also suffered from difficulties related to IT, especially when they tried to collaborate. The two locations each had their own email system, one on Gmail and the other on Office 365. It was difficult to know when deliveries were being scheduled or to communicate without picking up the phone.
Since April of 2019, KLH has met and exceeded everything Milaca Building Center hoped for, Kotsmith-Johnson said. KLH facilitated getting Milaca’s two locations communicating with one another by migrating one away from Gmail to Office 365. Now, all emails are on a single platform, and employees at each location can easily see schedules through shared calendars.
KLH consulted with upper management about the security risks of running software on older, unsupported devices and collaborated to develop a procurement plan that suited the company’s needs. And, thankfully, the 16-year-old computer is now gone!
Additionally, KLH proactively monitored spam and phishing concerns and developed a proposal, with information to support it, containing details on what was happening with company emails. Kotsmith-Johnson appreciated KLH’s effort to ensure the company was safe.
She said KLH has “high integrity with how they service their customers.”
One of the biggest perks of working with KLH, according to Kotsmith-Johnson, is leadership no longer “firefighting” IT issues. With a plan in place, Milaca can be proactive about its IT needs.
Kotsmith-Johnson also appreciates that KLH does “an excellent job of understanding that we are a small business; they are good stewards of our budget.” KLH finds the most cost-effective solution and explains why certain changes are necessary. They typically complete a project ahead of schedule, on or under budget. The email migration, for example, was completed before the deadline, saving Milaca money.
Despite KLH’s office being quite a distance from Milaca Building Center’s location, Kotsmith-Johnson said she doesn’t feel like support is an hour and a half away because KLH puts such effort into being available online and by phone and coming on-site as quickly as possible when a need arises.
“We always feel like we have someone to go to.”
The systems and structure KLH has put into place for Milaca Building Center have allowed it to stop wasting time on unnecessary IT activities, which creates more time to focus on running and growing the business.