A Texas-based provider of small-business IT solutions is rolling out an ambitious Long Island growth strategy, but the basic law of supply and demand might not compute.
Austin’s CMIT Solutions already has six Long Island franchises – in Merrick, Roslyn, Five Towns, Melville, Northport and Garden City – and it’s hungry for more. Armando D’Accordo, president of the Merrick franchise and CMIT’s area developer, said he’s looking to develop six new Island operations.
The typical franchise can install, monitor and maintain 100 servers and 1,000 desktop computers, while offering cloud-computing services for email hosting and data backup.
CMIT “fills a need in the small-to-midsize business market,” D’Accordo said. “The small business owner really doesn’t have anywhere to turn for quality, enterprise-grade technical support.”
The idea is to provide big-time support on limited IT budgets – precisely the experience of Charles Rosenblum, partner at the Merrick general practice law firm Krohn, Rosenblum & Rosenblum.
Since 2008, CMIT has maintained the firm’s local server and 10 computers, a small but critical network that handles everything from email to database searches to electronic court filings.
“If we’re out for 10 minutes, we’re paralyzed,” Rosenblum said. “We’re married to these keyboards and monitors. And without CMIT’s support, we’d be in the Stone Age.”
The firm has always farmed out its IT work, but its last two providers – one a company like CMIT, another a solo shop – “just weren’t working out,” Rosenblum said.
With CMIT, “I don’t think about anything when it comes to computers,” Rosenblum said, noting the monthly retainer he pays is “worth every penny.”
D’Accordo and an uncle paid $200,000 in 2007 for exclusive CMIT development rights to Long Island and the five boroughs. They bought in, he said, because CMIT matched a successful IBM model they’d observed while working at Westbury’s Cendant Corp., then the corporate parent of about 30 companies, including Avis and Century 21.
Cendant outsourced its computer operations to IBM, D’Accordo said, and “CMIT had the same model.”
“They said they wanted to be the IBM of small businesses,” he said. “Small business owners can’t afford IBM and IBM doesn’t want them. They can only turn to these small shops or one-man bands who work off their cell phones. Now those guys are calling us.”
D’Accordo plans to add 10 new franchises in his coverage area, including the six Island franchises, plus two in Brooklyn and sites in Manhattan and Staten Island.
The Texas company currently has a Brooklyn franchise and three in Manhattan.
There are no immediate plans for Queens franchises, D’Accordo said, but Queens County is “ripe” and could eventually support at least four franchises, he said.
While CMIT sees opportunity everywhere – “Every small business is a candidate for us,” D’Accordo said – some industry insiders calculate a bigger challenge.
“They must have something unique, other than saying ‘I’m going after small companies,’” said Peter Goldsmith, chairman of the Long Island Software & Technology Network. “If you can do it better, that’s the whole thing.”
Paul Trapani, CEO of Fuoco Technology in East Meadow, also said doing it better is CMIT’s only chance on hyper-competitive Long Island.
There are “tons” of providers offering small-business IT support here, said Trapani, who cofounded the XT Group, an IT provider that subsequently partnered with the Hauppauge-based Fuoco Group and become Fuoco Technology.
Like CMIT, the XT Group focused on extremely small businesses in need of support. As Fuoco Technology, the firm has expanded its vision to offer “higher-level support,” Trapani added, including software consulting and website development, but the super-small business with a server and a few desktops remains on their radar.
In short, staunch competition awaits newbie IT providers in Nassau and Suffolk.
“If a business is generally happy with its IT support – not even thinking it’s great, just that their IT needs are addressed – you’re going to have a hard time taking that client away,” Trapani said. “People don’t like change.”