LKF Marketing is an agency in Kalamazoo, focused on advertising, marketing, website design and development, and public relations, and they’ve been hard at work in the local community for over 25 years. Their mission?
To achieve results. Awards are great, but they don’t make someone use your product or services… though we still manage to nab honors along the way.
LKF isn’t afraid to hold themselves accountable to accomplishing their goals and projects. As an organization which handles lots of sensitive media, business continuity and IT is critical to LKF Marketing accomplishing their goals.
Sarah Morgan is the Senior Account Executive and the appointed IT person at LKF, meaning she’s the liaison for everything tech that goes on in their office today. Between Sarah and the managed services provider, they’re responsible for keeping computers, phones, and servers intact.
LKF’s IT has gone through a couple transition phases—at one time they employed a full-time IT person: the position was unusual and very home-grown: he did IT security and some programming for LKF. When he took a position elsewhere, though, Sarah and the rest of the team were left with a decision on their hands: to hire on another full-time IT worker or work with a partner. During this process, they were also faced with two immediate issues: a slurry of network problems, and a long overdue need for better data backup.
Network and data backup needs
As a marketing company, LKF works with a lot of large files—Photoshop files, video files, you name it. Previously, they had very little in the way of backup, save for an in-office hard drive to save copies of important files. It was better than nothing, but in the instance of a disaster that affected the building, they would be out of luck entirely.
LKF also faced shortcomings with their network, between old equipment and a less-than-adequate network architecture, they experienced occasional downtime, with outages lasting up to two entire business days. Obviously, as an agency who does almost all their work online, any type of network disruption will significantly affect their ability to deliver quality service to clients.
Finding a partner to grow with
Sarah decided to review several IT providers, to see who could partner up and quickly get up to speed with LKF. One thing that became clear to Sarah was the importance of having a provider who provided a local helpdesk—not just a single local representative, but a support team who could actually get to know with LKF. Huge, outsourced helpdesks didn’t feel personal or caring of their business.
“I just wanted to have “my guy” who I could call with problems. Someone who I know, who knows LKF, and who can be accountable for what we need.” —Sarah Morgan, Senior Account Executive
LKF also knew they’d need a provider who could adequately step up to accommodate their mixed environment of Macintosh, PC, and web development needs. They came upon a few vendors who were highly focused on just PC or just Mac systems, but failed to cover some users, who were stuck creating their own hodge-podge to avoid switching to an uncomfortable platform.
“When we worked with previous providers, I didn’t feel like they cared. I was a computer to them, and after they fixed the computer, they left, and that was that.” —Heather Isch, President and Owner
In the end, LKF’s most promising choice was Newmind Group, an IT provider located in Kalamazoo, who aligned with their needs, seemed personable, and was locally-minded.
Putting out the fires
Stabilizing their network infrastructure was first on the list, and after installing new switches, access points, and a firewall, they can rely on their connectivity. “Since we moved and got set up on all the new equipment, we’ve never had a complete down—not even once,” says Sarah.
They’re now working with a proper backup solution too—the same server that holds their data locally now backs up to an off-site location, and it takes a system snapshot every two hours throughout the business day, so if something happens and files are lost, they only need to rewind a maximum of two hours to recover anything. Carolyn Douglass, a designer at LKF, says the backup system has been huge for her:
“In the past, I had to use LKF time to rebuild things after something gets moved and accidentally deleted. There was no way around that before. Obviously the snapshot isn’t a tool I want to depend on, but knowing that it’s there, and that Newmind is always a call away to set me up with a specific version of the backed up file—it’s a huge weight off my shoulders.” —Carolyn Douglass, Graphic Designer
This system snapshot feature has come in handy since then. In one instance, several LKF employees noticed a cluster of random files missing from a folder located on their server, and determined that someone must have accidentally deleted a folder while connected to the server. When LKF checked with Newmind about the problem, they were able to turn back to the most recent snapshot of the server—only an hour old—and all the necessary files were restored.
Working the way we want to work
Today, LKF doesn’t have to conform to a specific set of tools, and their MSP relationship works the other way around—Newmind Group is able to look at the way that LKF would like to work, and they accommodate for those needs. Where other providers struggled, LKF can now comfortably work with a mixed environment of Macintosh, PC, and web development tools, without a fear of losing support.
“With Newmind, both of my engineers I’ve worked with will explain what they’re doing and why, without treating me like I’m dumb. It means a lot.” —Sarah Morgan, Senior Account Executive
One critical piece of the relationship is LKF’s Newmind Happiness Engineer, who helps to resolve any support issues they run into and plan future tech strategy and projects.
“They’re like our ‘IT angels from heaven,’ says Sarah. “They got that nickname one morning when I was about to click send with an issue we’d just run into, and that instant, Luke walked through the door. Before I could even tell him the problem, he said that’s what he was there to work on!”
Where they are now
Today, LKF Marketing has negligible downtime with their new network tools, an effective data backup solution and they moved into a new office space in 2015, with minimal downtime:
“While Newmind was in our new office setting up the network and transferring machines, they actually set up the Newmind company conference room to have four LKF team members working in there to reduce some of the downtime from the move. Not to mention they made us some great coffee!” —Heather Isch, President and Owner
In spite of the major projects they’ve undertaken, Sarah says Newmind has always been comfortable and caring, and never pushy with solutions or advice:
Whenever we need help, they don’t just immediately come up with a figure for how much it will cost to create a massive fix. They’d throw out ideas for how they might patch things together—there’s always a moment of ‘well, how about we try this and see how it works out.’ They seem to make decisions in our best interest and not the other way around.” —Sarah Morgan, Senior Account Executive