Blog: All Things Nortec

Company Looks to Nortec to Execute Office Move

Doors Open on Schedule and Budget
Without a Hitch

Based in Washington, D.C., Restore Media, LLC, is an integrated media company dedicated to serving the building restoration, renovation, and historically inspired new construction markets. Restore Media offers information for people who restore and renovate old homes and non-residential buildings or who create new buildings in a traditional style.

Restore Media serves the restoration and renovation markets through its market-leading publications, trade shows, conferences, and Internet initiatives. The company produces the Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference and Traditional Building Forum, two trade events, and publishes Clem Labine’s Traditional Building, Clem Labine’s Period Homes, the Preservation Sourcebook, Old-House Journal, Old-House Journal’s Restoration Directory, Old-House Journal’s Traditional Products, and Old House-Journal’s New Old House.

The Challenge

When Restore Media purchased the Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference, its first property, in late 2000, it decided to keep its operation in suburban Boston, where the events staff was headquartered. However, when the company purchased Washington, D.C.-based Old House Journal magazine, a related publication, and the periodical’s Web site in mid- 2001, Restore Media realized it also needed to set up a D.C. operation to house the magazine’s staff and most of the company’s principals. With a rapidly expanding company and no full-time IT staff, Paul Kitzke, Restore Media’s Executive Vice President and one of Restore Media’s owners, began looking not only for new office space, but also for new IT solutions. “We needed to link to our remote offices, and then to other businesses that we planned to acquire along the way,” said Kitzke.

Because it needed to publish its new magazines without interruption while linking the new D.C. office to the trade show’s staff in the Boston area, it was essential that IT and telephony functions were set up seamlessly and operating well from the very start. “We needed to set up our new office with fully functional IT and telephony operations, quickly and with little or no downtime,” said Kitzke.

Restore Media wanted its IT solutions provider to be within reach of its Georgetown office, and the firm wanted an organization that could understand the perspective of a growing small business. Paramount to the decision, however, was a company that could provide lightning-fast solutions to problems. “We needed a company with consistent expertise and wide breadth of knowledge. We didn’t have an in-house IT staff, so we needed to have support available immediately,” said Kitzke.

The Solution

Restore Media began its search by asking other respected vendors for Recommendations. “I asked the accounting firm handling our acquisitions, Beers & Cutler, which advised small businesses on these matters, to make recommendations on a company that could provide comprehensive IT solutions,” said Kitzke. “They recommended Nortec, which had successfully worked with several of B&C’s other clients.”

After several in-depth meetings and interviews, Restore Media selected Nortec as its IT solutions provider.

Prior to moving into its new Georgetown offices, Nortec conducted a number of detailed meetings with Restore Media management and staff centered around network servers, software solutions, workstations, and telephony. While the firm’s headquarters would be in Washington D.C., it also planned on maintaining its small office in Massachusetts for at least the next three years, so linking the two offices was also a consideration. And because Restore Media is a publishing firm, it had industry-specific software requirements as well.

From these conversations and analyses, Nortec designed an implementation plan that included timelines, cost estimates, and office workstation layout diagrams. Restore Media chose a Compaq servers running Microsoft’s Windows 2000. The firm has both PC and Mac workstations, and Nortec was able to network the Macs to the server and PCs seamlessly. For its telephone system, Restore Media chose a Panasonic system that was well tailored to the company’s needs and has worked well since the initial installation.

With an IT plan successfully executed, Restore Media opened its Georgetown office doors without a hitch. “It worked seamlessly. After a number of years of working with Nortec, I’ve come to expect that, but at the time, I was surprised, as we had other vendors then that surprised us in not so positive ways,” said Kitzke.

Then in 2003, Restore Media made the decision to move again, but this time to a location not quite so far away: an adjacent office building. Nortec was instrumental in this transition as well, and worked with Restore Media to orchestrate a seamless relocation plan. “We needed to be up and running immediately after the move – we couldn’t afford any downtime,” said Kitzke. “But I was dealing with people I’d worked with for some time and I was confident they would be able to do it – and they did.”

The Benefits

Since its initial move 5 years ago, Restore Media has come to rely on Nortec to support not only the firm’s technology, but also its growth, which included the acquisition of two Brooklyn, N.Y. based magazines and accompanying Web sites in early 2002. “Our company has grown substantially, and Nortec has helped us keep up with the growth and helped us stay ahead of the game,” said Kitzke. “Nortec continues to be able to grow with us, and with more complicated technologies.”

While Restore Media’s initial priorities in choosing an IT solutions provider were expertise and service, price is always a consideration – especially for a small business. Indeed, Restore Media considers its relationship with Nortec to be a valuable one, as each year, the firm analyzes a variety of functions, including IT. And each year, Restore Media concludes that its relationship with Nortec is more cost-effective and efficient than employing a full-time staff, or any other competitors.

Above all, however, Restore Media places a premium on service. “If I place a call to our network engineer late on a Friday night and our email is down, he’ll be there helping out. He also knows our business well enough to know what is critical and needs to be addressed right away and what can wait,” said Kitzke. “The linchpin is not just the nuts and bolts of IT solutions, it is the ability to respond, adapt, and have the right answer from the very beginning.”

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