Member Spotlight for June 2011

For our June Member Spotlight we feature two outstanding companies. We interview Paul Meadows, President/CEO of Distributed IT Services, Inc. and Kip Smith, President & Creative Director of Blair Marketing.


Distributed IT Services (Interview with Paul Meadows)

R2KTC: Tell us about your company?

DIS: Distributed IT Services, Inc. provides technical solutions to business problems in a manner that incorporates the highest level of integrity, resulting in the highest level of trust. We are committed to developing strong customer relationships in order to fully understand our clients’ business goals and provide the best solutions that meet our client’s needs and objectives. With three decades of experience on staff and the value of the services that we provide, it is no wonder that more companies are choosing to partner with us!

Our Vision is to be a premier provider of Information Technology products and services.

Our Mission is to provide technical solutions to business problems – in a manner that incorporates the highest level of integrity resulting in the highest level of trust.

R2KTC: What do you see trending in your industry?

DIS: Data Centers are getting smaller!  Like many industries there is a growing focus on doing more with less.  The growing interest in virtualization is indicative of this notion.  Such technologies allow organizations to easily migrate a dozen or more servers to just three, thus utilizing less hardware, power consumption and space.  Coupled with an appropriate storage solution, such an environment can become highly resilient and more easily restored in the event of a disaster.

I also see a much greater necessity for technology in the small to medium business sectors.  A lack of highly trained technicians employed by these organizations creates a necessity for technology management to be more intuitive as it often becomes a secondary responsibility for a full-time employee in the organization.  I believe this to be at least one of the reasons we have experienced considerable success in our offering of the Barracuda Networks products.  Simply put – they are intuitive, require little administrative overhead and are very reliable.

R2KTC: What is your specialty?

DIS: We specialize in information technology products and services for private healthcare practices.  Our focus, training and experience has allowed us to become highly regarded in the healthcare community in Central Virginia.  We understand the functional and operational differences between a private medical practice and other organizations.  We understand what technologies are in high-demand and are a good fit for these organizations.  Our approach to consulting with such organizations has been greatly appreciated and has proven to be successful.

R2KTC: How has your industry changed in the last year or two?

DIS: CONVERGENCE!  Every day we are seeing a continual convergence between voice, data and video.  While this convergence began to be seen on occasion a decade ago, it has continuously gained momentum.  In the past two years we have seen wonderful developments in Voice over IP technologies with advancements in Video over IP not far behind.  Systems like the Cudatel Communications Server that we provide are becoming more like other server-based applications.  As a result of that, organizations can manage their own phone system via intuitive web user interface as well as integrate their voice functions with other applications.  This type system allows organizations to utilize the same connection to the service provider for voice that they already require for data.  This is one area of potential savings for organizations that is driving the continual convergence of voice and data.  IP telephony systems such as the Cudatel Communications Server are also incorporating video into the voice/data applications.  Video conferencing using a desktop IP phone is already available and will continue to become more prevalent in the near future.

R2KTC: What do you like about living and working in Region 2000?

DIS: The people!  I grew up in a more rural area about two hours north-west of Lynchburg.  I would say the people in my hometown are very friendly; however, I have been pleasantly surprised to find such a large number of just genuinely good people here in Central Virginia.  I also love that Lynchburg, in my opinion is a great size.  While I see continued growth in the area, the local leaders seem very grounded and understand that we can continue to grow without sacrificing the character and values that are the fabric of our communities.

R2KTC: Is there anything else you want to tell us?

DIS: Our company has grown significantly in our three short years.  I am extremely grateful for every person that has helped us along the way.  Many of these folks are customers and some are associates, partners or friends, but regardless of which category they fall into – I am extremely grateful for each and every one of them.

For more information on Distributed IT Services, please visit their website at: www.DistributedITS.com


Blair Marketing (Interview with Kip Smith)

R2KTC: Tell us about your company.

BLAIR: Well, we started in back in 1984 as a traditional ad agency. At the risk of sounding like an old codger, it was a much simpler time then: you had print ads, billboards, three commercial TV stations, and just a handful of radio stations. But then in 1990, we were one of the first firms in the region to commit to computer technology, and started doing websites. Before long, the simple name of “ad agency” didn’t really fit us too well anymore.

R2KTC: What do you see trending in your industry?

BLAIR: Wow. For years, the word to utter to sound like a visionary in our field was “convergence.” But now, the media have already converged — or maybe “collided” is more like it. Computers, web, video, personal communications, books…they’re all mashed up right it our hands. So now, I’d say what’s trending in our industry is the pursuit of almost individual members of our clients’ audience.

If you think of us as fishermen, then what communication technology has in effect done is to disperse the dense schools of fish (which used to be our old mass media audiences) into millions of tiny groups and specimens. So instead of just throwing our mass media nets over the side of the boat like we used to do, we now have to go pursue all those elusive, widely scattered individuals, and attract them almost one by one, using bait specifically calibrated for their location, habits, and tastes.

We’re still communicators and marketers like we always were — that’s still the core of what we do — but man, you have to craft the message and the medium like never before. We’ve also had to become very proficient at lots of different kinds of bait, too, by the way: video, animation, e-commerce, mobile. We even still do print ads!

R2KTC: What is your specialty?

BLAIR: That one’s easy: we combine technological and marketing perspectives in a way that I think is pretty unique.

The technological perspective has two sides to it, as well. We’re accustomed to dealing with technical, business-to-business subject matter, and also to communicating with technologically oriented audiences. But we’ve also had to become extremely technical at the back end; we handle programming-intensive and media-rich sites and apps that are really beyond the reach of some basement web developers. We’re also willing to work collaboratively with companies that are doing some of their own communications projects internally.

Most importantly, we keep our clients’ marketing objectives front and center. There is a marketing rationale for everything we do. And in my opinion, there are some really talented visual designers out there who lack that marketing perspective. That’s why we’re Blair Marketing, and not “Blair Web & Video.” Or even Blair Communications, which is what we used to be.

R2KTC: How has your industry changed in the last year or two?

BLAIR: I think the other really revolutionary development in recent years has been the whole field of metrics. For generations, TV and radio stations lived and died by audience rating methods that used just a handful of households in each state to infer what the entire nation was watching or listening to. Nobody really knew for sure just how many people had actually watched a given TV show. But now, with the web, many advertisers’ dreams have come true: we know exactly how many people have been to a site, exactly how long they stayed on each page, exactly how many clicked on an ad. We can gauge audience behaviors like never before, and so it’s given us a way to really see what’s working and what’s not.

And it’s also wild to see how global the audience really is. One of our client’s sites gets visits from people in Djibouti! I’m sorry, but I did not learn that one in Geography class…I had to go look it up.

R2KTC: What do you like about living and working in Region 2000?

BLAIR: I was born & raised here (go Hilltoppers!), so I love just having a true home town. A lot of people don’t really have those kinds of roots anywhere these days.

But on a professional and civic level, I feel like we’re all blessed to live in an area that has such an extraordinary economic base. I mean, think about it: we’re only an hour or two drive in any direction from dozens of little “mill towns” that built up around individual mills and factories, flourished for a while, then withered when the factories shut down. Many of those places have never really regained their former prosperity.

But here in Region 2000, we’ve had the good fortune to be surrounded by an amazingly broad base of industries from paper mills to potato chips…all bolstered by a foundation of technology companies that keeps our community and our workforce so relevant and up to date. To put a little plug in here, that’s really why we’re so enthusiastic about the Technology Council; they’re fostering an environment where Lynchburg’s technological foundation can become even more solid. I firmly believe that the Tech Council is one reason our unemployment level is one of the lowest in the state, and when you look around and see things like the CAER, and some of the incredible programs offered through area schools and colleges, it makes you feel pretty optimistic about what might be in store for our kids. In fact, they won’t have to move away to get a rewarding career: they can have hometown roots, too!

R2KTC: Is there anything else you want to tell us?

BLAIR: Hmm. Yes: be sure to attend the next Technology Council “Wired Wednesday” luncheon — the sandwiches are great.

For more information on Blair Marketing, please visit their website at: www.BlairMarketing.com


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