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On a Friday last spring, Flack Steel, a startup distributor of flat roll steel to OEMs in the construction, heavy equipment and HVAC industries, hoped to launch its business the following Monday. The problem was that Flack, in an industry where telephone and e-mail communications with customers and colleagues must be immediate and dependable, did not yet have such a capability. They had a viable customer list, 14 eager employees spread over a wide area and a small office, but no IT infrastructure. Flack needed a company willing to work all weekend, if necessary, to get its e-mail and telephone systems—BlackBerries and all—up and running. Fast.

They didn’t have far to look. In Flack Steel’s home base of Beachwood, Ohio (east of Cleveland), an IT services company was up to the job. “We were recommended to Flack Steel by one of their software vendors,” said Jonathan Husni, president of Acendex, which since 1988 has helped many medium and small organizations achieve and maintain their IT functionality. “We had about 48 hours to establish a Flack Steel domain name, design and implement a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) telephone system and install their ERP software.”

Husni and a team of his certified technicians worked non-stop over the weekend to build what was to be a computer network comprising 11 workstations and a virtual environment supported by 10 servers. “When we committed to what some might have said was an unrealistic deadline, I knew that excuses wouldn’t do and that, come Monday, Flack Steel had to be online and fully connected. As it turned out, they were,” said Husni.

“I don’t want to be in the IT business; I want to be in the steel business.”
— Jeremy Flack, President, Flack Steel

“As a startup we had immediate needs, especially for e-mail,” said Jeremy Flack, Flack Steel’s founder and president. “With people in multiple locations we needed a Flack.com e-mail address. Acendex did a fabulous job. The systems we have are up-to-date and they’ve been able to support our information system, Internet access and all our BlackBerries.”

Having completed the initial mad dash to Flack Steel’s successful launch, Acendex has settled into a routine of monitoring and maintaining the integrity of what’s now an expanding communications system for a robust and growing company. “Their customer service has been outstanding,” said Flack. “There’s not a question we’ve asked that they could not answer. Acendex has kept us in the game. As our business has grown along with our number of transactions we haven’t missed a beat. We’ve had no downtime days and no issues that haven’t been solved within minutes. It’s exactly what you’d want if you didn‘t have in-house IT.

“They’ve brought us along as our needs grow and grow. They’ve been able to support us as we’ve added users, more cities and remote telephone voice over IP. They’ve done everything that they said they’d do for us. I don’t want to be in the IT business; I want to be in the steel business.