Diversify or Move Aside: A Managed Services Business Success Story

It takes a special kind of person to grow a company to record levels during a pandemic. In the case of Jeff Bendix, President at Bendix Technologies, that success came from a willingness to diversify his business offerings long before it was ever fashionable. He’s just as excited about the current business climate, keeping an eye on massive growth opportunities.

If you are on the fence about diversifying your business for hyper-growth, this interview should change your mind. Join Jeff Bendix and West McDonald in this latest episode of Tigerpaw Radio as they discuss the secrets of revenue and market growth, even when times are challenging for most.

In this interview you’ll learn:

  • Why Bendix started on his diversification plan way back in 2009 even though his managed print practice was booming 
  • The necessity of internal experts—not just partners—for diversification success  
  • How leading with security, no matter what the item being sold is, drives more business 
  • The key to continuously beating the competition as they struggle to keep up 
  • How to calculate the TRUE costs of security breaches that go far beyond the initial intrusion or ransomware attack 
  • Why those offering Managed Print Services must adapt to add user management, print policies and secure authentication in a “managed everything” world 
  • The tremendous opportunities in cybersecurity and managed print right now for those who are paying attention 

Bendix Technologies is celebrating its 20th anniversary and their growth has never been stronger. Tune in and get the insights you need to thrive in 2022 and beyond. 

Want to know more about the business potential in other managed technology services verticals? Check out our new eBook, “Managed Services Guide to New Vertical Growth” for all the details.

0:00:04.1 West McDonald: Hey, Wes McDonald here and I want to thank you for tuning into another episode of Tiger Tube. And if you can’t see us and you can hear us, that means you’re listening in on Tigerpaw Radio. So thank you for listening in. Jeff Bendix, thank you very much for doing the interview today. Maybe you could do a brief introduction and share one thing about yourself that people might not know.

0:00:44.0 Jeff Bendix: Sure. Yeah, as West said, my name is Jeff Bendix. I’m the owner and founder of Bendix Imaging. And for the last number of years, we generally go more as Bendix Technology Center because we do more than just printing and imaging. So it just changes the perspective a little bit. But yeah, we are coming up on 22 years in business. So we made it past the two decade mark. So hopefully that means we should be around a little longer. Well, it’s getting warm here in South Dakota. We’re actually in the 50s this week. And so I think I’m going to get my Harley out of the warehouse this week and get that out on the road again. So yeah, I’m an avid Harley rider and my son is now old enough. So we’re actively looking for a Harley for him to get for his not his first motorcycle, but his first street bike.

West McDonald: What I’ve really loved about following what you’ve been doing in the technology space is that even though that’s a good part of your business, you’ve always looked towards the future. Right. And you’re obviously doing a lot of things beyond managed print today. You mentioned that you’re going by Bendix Technology Services a lot more using that in the name.

0:01:52.1 West McDonald: And I know from experience with you that you’re delivering a lot of different things. And we’ll get into those. But what got you started in that? Because when you started in the technology space, most people like yourself were still very successful doing what you were doing. So what was the what was the trigger?

0:02:10.3 Jeff Bendix: It’s kind of always been the trend. So when we started in 2000, it was just remanufacturing toner. Of course, I quickly realized you need lots of other things like when printers break, you need to know how to fix them and have parts and when they’re not fixable, you need to sell hardware and things like that. So some of those things are just natural evolution, quick evolution, but natural nonetheless, selling OEM toner as well, etc. But way back in the early, early days when we first met is when managed print services were just in its infancy. And PrintFleet has just started and Brian started that and saw that as well. That’s a lot better way to have visibility and to just contract with people just to keep everything running. And, of course, there’s different models have changed over the years, but jumped on that bandwagon right away. In 2004 is when I bought my first PrintFleet server. And of course, there have been many migrations through the years from that. And that started that process is doing things proactively, managing things and doing the right things for the customer that they would normally just maybe not take care of, just make things run better.

0:03:28.5 Jeff Bendix: Then as technology started merging, of course, everything’s digital and you have multi-functions and we’re setting up scanning and emailing and you started getting more and more and started rudimentary, but as those markets mixed, you started needing a little bit more technical skills and things like that. So then I was, if it was over my head, then I was hiring IT people to come and help me on installs or configurations that were a little more complex. And then when I bought my current building, I had an IT company actually move in and I ended up absorbing them. So yeah, in 2012, 2013, we started working towards… Actually 2008 is when they moved in with me. Oh wow. In 2012, they started talking about that. And we’re working together on a lot of things. And then in 2015 is when we officially said, okay, no more IT services the way it’s been done. Everything is a managed IT services model. We’ll go out, I’ll bring the customers in. We’ve got the technical people here already. So we shifted that and have been growing that steadily since. And January of this year, it actually equaled and even surpassed a little bit on our managed revenue beat Printout.

0:04:49.7 Jeff Bendix: So that’s growing faster now in today’s market. But so we’re kind of in a friendly war between those two divisions here. And now we’re shifting more towards… Or actually we’re talking about that before this call is as you know, we do a lot of cybersecurity and network security, things like that. That’s what we’ll be with. So moving from an MSP or a managed service provider to we’re officially shifted to an MSSP, which is a managed security services provider. So we work a lot with companies that have their own IT departments or other things, but we can come in and take care of all the cybersecurity on top of that.

0:05:30.3 West McDonald: Yeah, it’s really neat. You mentioned that the distinction between MSP and MSSP and we love acronyms in our space, right? And also before the call, you mentioned that you had a new hire. I was just speaking with someone at Tigerpaw earlier because they have a new hire and the hardest part of training them is not always the skill sets, but the acronyms, right? And one of the comments he came back with, he says, hold on, you got to be kidding me. So managed print, MPS. Yes. And managed service provider, MSP. Yes. He’s like, how am I ever supposed to get that straight?

Jeff Bendix: Yeah, exactly.

0:06:05.5 West McDonald: One letter in a different place, right?

0:06:08.7 Jeff Bendix: Yeah. We, we often get that mixed up in our price book items for, for what revenue codes in Tigerpaw. Cause we have that, MSP and MPS.

West McDonald: Yeah. This is that something, eh? Wow. And now let’s let’s maybe move into this a bit. And I find that fascinating and I’ll talk on that actually before I move on is that it’s, it’s really neat to hear that you actually started with partnership. You took your time, right? So that you were actually working together on deals, developing that expertise, learning how to do it. Because one of the things that I’ve heard from a lot of folks that have tried to do what you’re, what you’re doing successfully is they couldn’t get it to work. And I think the message that I hear is, well, you did take your time with it. So it’s not like an overnight success. You had someone in the building, you started partnering and then eventually started figuring out, wait a minute, what if we absorb this into our business now? So that’s, that’s pretty cool. And I think an important lesson, right?

0:06:58.0 Jeff Bendix: Yeah, absolutely. You know, there’s a lot of different vendors out there. You talked about this lots of different times over the years that dealers can partner with or contract with to do different areas of their business. And well, that’s all fine. And there is a place for that. You need internal people that understand what the heck you’re doing. So it’s not just, hey, I want to add this new product or service. I don’t want to know anything about it. I’m just going to hire somebody else to take care of it. You need to manage that in-house and then you manage that provider, the vendor of yours that’s providing that service and make sure they’re doing what you need.

West McDonald: Yeah. And because at the end of the day, it’s your name that’s on the contract with the customer, right? And when things go wrong, you’re the ones that they call, right? Yeah. Great. And let’s speak a little bit now about kinds of the things that you are doing, right? So as you look at it, you talked about doing cybersecurity today and that’s, it’s so important. And it’s one of those areas that I’d always look to as well for a growth area for our space.

0:08:04.9 West McDonald: Because people, especially with so much work being done online and people use email and other digital communication methods, just so critical trying to make sure that we’re doing something to proactively secure what and how they’re working, right? Now as you look to continually evolve, are there any other things that you’re looking at now, which maybe we could look forward to seeing you doing in the future?

0:08:28.4 Jeff Bendix: Everything starts with security these days. It doesn’t matter if it’s email, if it’s network security, if it’s remote working, if it’s printers, what it is, you have to start at the cybersecurity level and work backwards. Because everything already functions already, but you need to protect all that and keep everybody working and keep your customers or your patients or whatever it happens to be all their data and systems and records safe. If you don’t do that, nothing else matters. So that’s really what we start with. And we stay on top of that every single day. We have multiple trainings every week that our different people are in. Our CSO is on top of that daily.

0:09:13.4 West McDonald: Yeah, because the threats are ever evolving, right?

0:09:16.0 Jeff Bendix: Yeah, I was just gonna say that. Our vendors, the products and tools and the software and things like that that we use to protect people, they’re constantly evolving. So we’re working with their engineers and their security folks daily. So yeah, that’s a big elephant to try to wrangle. But it’s also exciting to some extent, all the new things that meet on the leading edge. So that gives us quite a leg up from most of what you consider competitors.

West McDonald: Yeah, and I think too, one of the things that I just heard there was that you’re leading with security first and always, right? So if it’s printers, if it’s desktops, if it’s email, if it’s remote work that you’re starting with security. And I gotta think that’s got to change how you approach all those other offerings too, right? So, you know, the yardstick that you use.

0:10:10.0 Jeff Bendix: Yeah, I think it actually just came out this morning. I saw I’m constantly reading different things and getting different articles. It might have been a CompTIA daily briefing that with the new, you know, currently going on the Russian Ukraine war, that Russian attackers are actively using the print nightmare vulnerability. So even though it’s IT, it’s related to print. So it’s, you know, which side does that fall on to? Because in today’s market, everybody knows there’s a drastic talent shortage. So even companies that are aware of all the vulnerabilities don’t necessarily have enough manpower enough time to remediate them or to deal with them. And there’s a lot of print nightmare instances that are still out there and they’re actively going nuts and exploiting them.

West McDonald: Well that’s really neat. I think it’s very important, you know, for people that are watching that, you know, as we start to look at diversifying services, that you’ve got to have an important central starting position that can tie the other ones all back into it, right? And at the end of the day, business security, if it’s compromised for customers, that’s probably the most expensive thing for their business, right?

0:11:20.7 West McDonald: Beyond a printer going down, beyond a desktop not working or anything else, if they’re vulnerable and that vulnerability is exploited, that that’s the biggest problem they’ll ever face.

0:11:31.4 Jeff Bendix: Oh yeah, and all the things that people aren’t aware of that, you know, that’s going to suck cash out of their pockets when they have a breach or a ransomware incident. The ransom that they may or may not pay is actually the smallest part of what that incident is going to cost them. All the cleanup and the remediation of it and everything they have to have in places and fines and penalties if you’re a regulated industry like healthcare, banking and finance, things like that. All those things are way more than the ransom costs. Oh my goodness. And I guess potential lawsuits and just so many different costs that come afterwards, right? Just like any storm, you know, after a hurricane, it’s the cleanup that, you know, that once the emergency is over now, the real money and the work begins to get things right.

0:12:24.3 Jeff Bendix: Yeah. Interesting tidbit, actually right on the homepage of our website, we have a button you can click and it says it’s a breach cost calculator and you can put in your own numbers and what types of things that it pulls it up and it shows you different costs that you’re going to incur and what the current market rates are that, you know, for whatever the numbers you entered in is what that’s going to estimate what’s going to cost you to clean up and remediate that incident.

West McDonald: Well, that’s really great. I love calculators, so I’ll definitely be bugging you to share that with me as well. Because then at least you can quantify what those things are as well, right? I do find that that’s been one of the biggest problems in the security market is to say, well, you know, it’s going to cost you a lot of money. And then of course the next question is, well, how much?

0:13:09.6 Jeff Bendix: Yeah. I actually had an insurance agency tell me last week, there’s a couple of them that I’m aware of, that they’re using that as they’re meeting with their clients, talking about, you know, their business protection policies and their cyber insurance policies. And they’re pulling up our website using our breach cuts.

West McDonald: I love it. Oh, that’s great. Well, I can’t wait to have a look at it. You know, when we look at managed print, which is obviously the space that you started in, and that’s how I met you in the early days of remote monitoring and management, a lot has changed, right? And we see sort of the message around managed print oscillates. So managed print is dead. Managed print is coming back. Managed print is this, managed print is that. So I just, for someone that’s in the business that’s moving through this, what’s your take? Is managed print dead? Is it evolving? What’s the change?

0:13:53.7 Jeff Bendix: I see it kind of like the early days of remanufactured toner and how those changes have come into play. And there was companies that just kind of did it the quick, easy way. And of course the promised results weren’t there. And there are a lot of companies which you and I, you know, both forecasted and lived through the whole period of most companies coming on, dealerships, copy of dealers, things like that, where they just said, oh, hey, I’m going to partner with, whether it’s PrintFleet or Print Audit or FM Audit, you know, pick your vendor and install a collection agent and automate toner billing. And that’s it, but we’re not going to manage anything. So a lot of the marketplace got promised managed print services and really just got a different billing model. And often didn’t even fulfill that very well, you know, with lots of problems, machines now never getting serviced, supply delivery issues, all the things that we can add up. So lots of people have a sour taste in their mouth, just like they did in the early days of remanufactured toner. You know, we still hear people, no, I tried that once 30 years ago and I’m never going back.

0:15:07.7 West McDonald: Once bitten twice shy.

0:15:09.5 Jeff Bendix: Yeah. So literally, not exaggerating, literally yesterday I was at a customer that we just brought on for managed print services yesterday. I have another one in another state that has managed print services in place from a different dealer. And that marketplace has multiple dealers that are doing such a horrible job. It’s opening an entire new office location for us in another state. And I’ve got multiple locations in different states that we’re working on doing it.

0:15:38.6 West McDonald: In truth, our industry hasn’t always provided managed print and that opportunity, I think you’ve probably learned a lot when you’re actually an MSP and now becoming an MSSP, right? That there are different conditions when you say you manage a thing and that’s got to only help bolster what you’re doing for your print business as well, right?

0:15:55.9 Jeff Bendix: There’s a company in another state that we’re working with. We’ve been working with for a period of time, a number of years, just on and off and different things, but we get much more closely now and they’re actually, we just signed contracts a week or two ago to officially move forward with a full new print management solution. Of course, your standard DCA, collecting all the network printers and all the things you should be doing there from servicing and maintenance, but doing full user management rules, ID swipes, security release, you know the game from the different companies you’ve worked at. So we’re rolling that out. That organization is about roughly 2,500 printers and about 8,000 people. We’re rolling it out to that organization. So it’s going to make a significant impact to that model one.

West McDonald: Yeah. I love what you said there is that managed print isn’t just about the devices, right? And you remember the old expression, we’ve used it a lot, printers don’t print, people do, right? That looking at those users and being able to manage what they’re doing, to see what they’re doing. And I got to think from a security perspective as well, right?

0:17:14.3 West McDonald: To be able to account for what people are doing with those devices, just like on any other device that’s in their office, right?

Jeff Bendix: And especially in regulated industries that have auditing and things, it’s important. You have to prove these things and this solution is going to provide that.

0:17:35.1 West McDonald: So for everyone watching and listening, remember, managed print isn’t always just about the device.

Jeff Bendix: It’s often not about the device. It’s about everything else that happens in the organization. The device just does what it’s told to do.

0:17:51.2 West McDonald: Well that’s great. I’m really happy to hear that. It sounds like an incredible deal as well, right? Hey, look, I know that your time is valuable and we’re kind of moving towards that time in the interview. And just going to ask you one last thing and what you’re looking forward to, if there was one thing in the year ahead, what would that thing be?

0:18:08.2 Jeff Bendix: The thing I’m most excited on and anybody that’s been in business for a number of years know these things, we often hope and pray for them and then when they’re here, we need to capitalize on them. And that’s this current business environment. I see nothing but massive growth potential. Like I said, we’re looking at, we’re actually actively working on opening up in multiple other markets in different states. One of them should be hopefully coming online this week, starting to bring some of those customers on. So finding the right talent and keeping those employees happy with their jobs and well engaged by always, you know, we try to stay on the leading edge of anything. So we’re always looking for those people that have that same drive to constantly be learning the new thing and not just wanting to stay with the status quo and not have to do anything new. Those people are out there and when you find the right one, it’s an exciting position for them. So we’re looking for more if you’re out there, we’re hiring.

0:19:17.6 West McDonald: Yeah. And if anyone out there is looking, believe me, there isn’t a better person or a better organization that you could work for. So make sure that you check them out. And Jeff, I can’t thank you as always for sharing your expertise and your experience. This goes a long way to help further what we’re trying to do to, you know, sort of lift all ships in these rising tides to make the office equipment channel and the managed services channel all that it can be. So I can’t thank you enough. Yeah. And for everyone that’s tuned in today, either watching us on video or listening to us on Tigerpaw Radio, thank you very much. And remember until next time, keep learning.

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