Metal-Matic, Inc. is a manufacturer of carbon steel tubing and specialty applications used around the world. Their headquarters is in Minneapolis, MN with locations in Illinois and Ohio. Metal-Matic employs 550 people at three locations and ships all over the US, Canada and Mexico. Keeping technology running smoothly is a top priority for their IT team.
Thomas Jackson, CFO of Metal-Matic, has worked with the IT team since he started at the company in 1994. Back then, they used computers primarily for email and word processing.
Metal-Matic’s IT needs changed over time as their IT team grew in expertise. An early IT manager came from their production floor and showed promise and an interest in engineering, IT and computer programming. He pieced together technology to make things work for the business. As the years passed, the team was able to remedy most problems that arose. None of their strategy or processes, however, were documented.
Their infrastructure came to include elements of technology that didn’t form a cohesive environment. They had servers hosting their website, Microsoft Exchange hosting their email and a number of different file servers. They started using HyperV and spooled up extra and backup servers as needed. That took up disk space, so the IT team would alter the infrastructure as they went, buying a new USB drive to use as backup space.
“Back then, it was pretty piecemealed,” Jackson said. “It was a hodgepodge of stuff connected and put together. We didn’t really have a good backup or disaster recover strategy. We thought we were backing things up, but we didn’t really ever have to restore anything, so how good those backups were, was questionable.”
In 2016, their network administrator quit. Then two months later, another major blow: their IT manager left.
“We still had enough people who could pick up the pieces,” Jackson said, “and I could manage them to some degree, but I could tell it was going to get out of control in a hurry.”
And then their Exchange server failed.
“They were going down rabbit holes, trying different things, trying to restore the server from a backup we had done,” Jackson said. “It was massive confusion about what we should and shouldn’t do.”
Eventually, they found a way to fix the Exchange server and restored email after being down for a couple days. Jackson realized they needed a stronger infrastructure and their IT strategy needed attention.
“Loffler was the only choice that offered CIO [Chief Information Officer] Services. That was more in line with what I needed. Someone that could help me with the structure and vision of where we needed to go.”
Thomas Jackson | CFO | Metal-Matic, Inc.
Metal-Matic decided to outsource IT services to help maintain their network infrastructure, as suggested by their former IT manager before he left. Jackson considered three local companies. They all offered managed IT services and were able to assist as a third-party IT management partner.
“Loffler was the only choice that offered CIO (Chief Information Officer) Services,” Jackson said. “That was more in line with what I needed. Someone that could help me with the structure and vision of where we needed to go.”
After meeting with Loffler Network Operations Center (NOC)) engineers and a CIO specialist, Jackson saw Loffler could work alongside his IT team to help not only with network administration, but also with IT strategy planning, roadmap development, project management and infrastructure lifecycle management. The services and knowledge Loffler offered allowed them to align their IT strategy with their business goals and plans for future growth.
“We finally had some strong technical people who could replace what we lost with the previous IT manager and add even more as far as engineering knowledge,” Jackson said. “Loffler can identify a problem and fix it because they’ve been able to peel back the onion and problem-solve to get to the root cause.”
The addition of the Loffler team to Metal-Matic’s IT resources has ensured their network infrastructure isn’t constantly breaking down and consuming their IT staff’s time. They know who to call when something breaks.
Metal-Matic now has a high-performance, fault-tolerant core infrastructure architected by Loffler that has simplified network administration, strengthened security and improved network availability. Because they now have an improved infrastructure and a partner with expertise to maintain it, proper troubleshooting can happen. Loffler has helped Metal-Matic’s existing IT team streamline administration, so they can focus on more proactive, business-specific applications.
In addition, Loffler is documenting systems and processes, so knowledge is saved for authorized users to access.
“Our core infrastructure is now scalable, supportable, maintainable and isn’t fraught with all the problems we had built into the other quagmire of a network,” Jackson said.
Looking to the future, Jackson hopes to engage Loffler in managed IT services, so his IT staff can focus more on activities that add value to their business. While he wouldn’t say they’re at the point where they’re in maintenance mode yet, he knows he’s working toward it.
Looking back to 2016, when his network administrator resigned, Jackson said he would give himself the following advice: “Make sure you have redundancy one way or another, either internally or with external help. The more you have of that, sooner, the better off you’ll be. We had it, but boom, boom, boom, they all quit.”
Now that they’ve partnered with Loffler for their IT services, Jackson knows he doesn’t have to worry about IT issues like he once did.
“I sleep better at night because I know that if something bad happens, we’ve got someone we can rely on that will find us a resource to get something fixed. I don’t worry about the network going down like I used to. I don’t worry about Exchange going down like I used to. If it did, I know it would be something Loffler could get back up quickly.”