In the Mode5

Norfolk-Based IT Company wins HR Chamber Regional Small Business of the Year Award

by Susan Smigielski Acker

At Mode5 the goal is to solve business technology problems quickly, and to prevent potentially serious issues from happening in the first place. The Norfolk-based company provides managed IT, cloud, security, and VoIP solutions. The company’s successful implementation of tech interventions and swift problem solving earned them the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Regional Small Business Award this year.

Co-founders Luke Downing, President of Sales and Finance, and Matt Bakey, President of Service, met through their parents who happened to work together. They started the company one year after they both graduated from Old Dominion University in 2001.

With just 26 employees, they service more than 100 clients in the Coastal Virginia region, Richmond, Northern Virginia, Florida, New York and West Virginia. The industries include healthcare, law, nonprofits, and construction.

The company rebranded in 2015 and selected the moniker Mode5. Downing says the name comes from the caveman days.

“When humans began developing tools during the stone age, Mode V tools were the most advanced technologies of the time,” he explains. “We chose the name because we love the idea of continuous improvement and advancing technologies to make humanity better.”

Mode5’s experts set up an initial meeting with clients to evaluate their needs and to determine where potential IT vulnerabilities lie. From there, solutions are developed. “Our job is to create a roadmap to make their technology run smoothly,” he shares. “Bad IT architecture can suck the life out of a business. We want our client’s IT to be as effective and as inobtrusive as possible,” he shares.

Once needs are identified, Mode5 creates a three-year roadmap of solution implementation designed to build a strong IT foundation. During those three years, Mode5 regularly updates the plan so it evolves along with inevitable changes in technology. It also helps when predicting future IT costs.

“It is critical to have great technology to have a successful business. If you invest in technology, your company will grow faster and earn more money. What sets us apart is that we focus on active solutions,” Downing says. “And security is a significant part of the plan.”

“A robust security infrastructure is a must-have,” Downing continues. “New threats require an investment in data security. In industries such healthcare and defense, business insurance companies, and regulatory agencies it is especially important that tough security measures are in place. Lax security can put you out of business and it can create legal problems.”

Photos Courtesy of Mode5

Photos Courtesy of Mode5

Hacking is a distinct threat. Ransomware perpetrators want to be paid in Bitcoin. They can also sell a company’s information on the dark web, he adds. Additional threats include viruses, phishing emails and key-loggers.

In addition to threat mitigation, Downing indicates that one of their potential clients’ major complaints is slow response time from current vendors.

“A lot of what we hear from potential clients is the slow response time from their current providers,” Downing relates. “When they encounter problems, they aren’t getting the assistance they need. That’s one of the big reasons we acquire new clients and retain them. We assure them that they can measure our response time with a stopwatch. We serve quickly and competently, so people can get back to their jobs and focus on what’s important.”

That attitude has earned Mode5 several other business accolades including being ranked as the 29th Best Managed IT Services Provider in the World by Channel Futures MSP 501 list. Mode5 was named in The Channel Company CRN’s 500 list as a Pioneer 250, recognizing them in the Top 250 Managed IT Services Providers in the world.

Among their clients, they have had eight-months-worth of perfect scores on quality assurance questionnaires, he says. Downing credits the company’s success to three key components of business: people, process, and technology.

He noted that listing people first as a key component is intentional. “When you are in a service business you have to hire great people and that’s what we do,” he said.

Valuing their employees has earned Mode5 as the 17th Best Place to Work in Virginia by Virginia Business Magazine and Best Companies Group among small companies with 15-99 employees.

“We complete interviews with employees at least once per year,” Downing continues. “We do annual climate surveys to really get at what employees are happy with and what they are not. We also do salary surveys every year to make sure pay is in line with the market, and we have great benefits including our Free Friday’s program where each team member has every other Friday off with pay.”

In addition, there are snacks, a popcorn machine and an arcade.

While Downing likes the awards, he especially enjoys helping other businesses succeed. “When we meet with clients, I enjoy the process of designing their IT plan, but I am most excited to be able to enable businesses to better fulfill their mission.”

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