Kevin M. Low is the founder and president of Secured Network Services, an IT firm based in Norwood, Mass., that launched its first Rhode Island branch office at 18 Imperial Place in Providence last week.
Low, a Rhode Island native, spoke with Providence Business News about what brought him back to Rhode Island and what’s next for his company.
PBN: What led you to found Secured Network Services in Norwood, Mass., in 2003?
LOW: I was working for another IT firm and didn’t like the way that they worked with their clients. I felt that I knew a better way to work with clients to manage their IT. My father had started his own successful IT company, which gave me the motivation that I needed to go out on his own and provide IT services the way that I wanted to, with honesty and quality customer service.
PBN: Did your history as a Rhode Island native influence your decision to launch a branch in Providence? Why make the “return” to Rhode Island now?
LOW: Yes, of course. I always felt like Rhode Island was my home, and from the beginning we’ve always had clients in Rhode Island. Up until this January, we had grown to the point that we had seven employees traveling to Norwood every day from Rhode Island. Like Big Boy Burger, we’ve always been here; now we’re just providing greater convenience. All of our Ocean State employees are linked to Rhode Island in some way, whether they were raised here or went to a local college or university. In fact, eight out of 10 of our first employees were from the Rhode Island network.
PBN: How have your services or the type of clients you serve changed in the 11 years since the founding of the company, as cloud technology and other advances have changed businesses’ IT needs?
LOW: Previously, it was only the professional businesses that had server/internet capabilities. While everyone had technology 11 years ago, the dependency on technology has increased to the point where our clients’ expectations and standards are much more demanding than they were. The requirement of always being up and running puts more onus on us to ensure that our clients are “always up” and minimize downtime. Cloud technology has changed the playing field, making everyone’s home office an extension of the corporate setting. In addition, the workplace is much more mobile than it used to be, which has increased the demand for services as more and more people work from home and need support when their home network isn’t working.
PBN: How do you plan to develop your portfolio of clients in Rhode Island?
LOW: We plan to hire additional sales staff, and we are immersing ourselves into the business community via the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, as well as membership in various civic organizations and more. Most of our current Rhode Island business has always been through word of mouth, so our added location will help to expand outreach efforts. In addition, our current partners are now more comfortable referring new business to us now that we have a footprint locally.
PBN: What’s next for Secured Network Services? Are you planning to make any new hires at the new Providence office, or at your other locations?
LOW: Absolutely. We’ve hired six people thus far this year and estimate that we’ll continue hiring at a rate of at least one person per month. Last year we decided to be open seven days a week live from the office, not just remote. This year we are planning to go live 24/7 providing our tech support services by adding a third shift staff. Lastly, we hope to add a fourth New England location before the end of 2014.