This month we were pleased to speak with Ray Coffin III, owner of All Access Infotech. All Access Infotech is located at 1776 Route 5 North in Fairlee, Vermont. All Access Infotech offers IT Managed Services, IT Consulting Services, VoIP Solutions and Cloud Services. They are dedicated to helping businesses and organizations of all types organize and manage their technology. All Access Infotech can be reached by phone in Vermont at (802) 331-1900, in New Hampshire at (603) 353-9800 or toll free at (877) 550-2248. You can also visit them online at www.allaccessinfotech.com or email Ray directly at rcoffin@allaccessinfotech.com.

How and when did you start your business?
I started the business in 2008, but have been in the IT industry since 1992. I worked for different companies doing IT support and consulting prior to opening the business. I was also in the Vermont National Guard where I was involved in the Data Security field and became a Data Security instructor for the government contractor who was providing government data security services. I decided at that point to start consulting full time and started the business in Orford, New Hampshire with just myself and a handful of clients. We now have six employees and we have recently opened a satellite office in West Lebanon. We have a lot of clients down south and this gives them the option to visit us down in West Lebanon and not have to come all the way up to Fairlee. We service businesses of all sizes including medical, dental, physical therapy, legal, town governments, schools, non-profits and all kinds of other businesses.

What services to do you provide?
We offer network cloud solutions, consulting and managed services, which is our core competency. We can actually serve as a company’s IT department and manage all aspects of their IT needs including helping them plan and budget for their IT services. We also offer data security services, wireless solutions, networking, Voice Over IP and disaster recovery services. Right now we are helping customers to migrate to the cloud through the Office 365 solution. Just recently, we successfully migrated all the information to the cloud for one of our nonprofit clients. They have over 900 employees. So, it was quite the project. We were able to centralize all of their data to make it easier for their employees to access the information since they work all across New England in many different locations. We also helped them get Office 365 for free due to their nonprofit status which helped them realize some great savings.
We are also focused on data security and integrate data security into all of our services. I am a CIISP, which stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional. In order to receive that certification, you must take an exam which takes about 6 months to prepare for, be vetted by another professional, spend years in the field and then be selected by the Board for certification.

What is your biggest business challenge?
Our largest challenge, other than the lack of high speed internet availability in some of our regions, is finding qualified candidates. We find a lot of our candidates within our own communities by asking around and asking technical people we know if they have any technical friends. We also used LinkedIn a lot to identify potential candidates, not so much to poach employees from other companies but to see where people are graduating from, who is interested in technology and so forth. Our current employees come from all around the region including from Springfield, Wentworth, Norwich and also locally right here in Fairlee. However, finding qualified people remains our biggest challenge.

Did you grow up in the area?
I grew up right here in Fairlee. My dad, Ray Jr., was a small business owner in town and owned Coffin’s Garage which was a Texaco station where Wing’s Market is now. The building that currently houses my business was previously my grandfather Ray Senior’s gift shop. He used to sell moccasins, maple candy, maple syrup and all kinds of other items. He was a little “frugal” so when we took over the building, we painted it, insulated it, and transformed it into its current state.

Any advice for small and medium size businesses in our region?
I would say to really take a look at your information systems and carefully look at the IT vendors and review their fees, especially if you are considering moving to a cloud solution. Once you have put your data in somebody’s cloud system, it can be really difficult to move it to another company. If you have not yet moved to the cloud, it is something I really recommend from a data centralization standpoint as well as from a data security and disaster recovery standpoint.

I also recently completed the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Program and highly recommend anyone who operates a small business to apply. It covers every aspect of running a small business. They bring in specialists covering everything from IT to hiring to accounting. The greatest benefit of the program is you get to work with 15-17 business leaders and share knowledge with each other. At the end of the program, you will have a completed growth plan to guide your business into the future.