Space no longer limited: IT firm moving to larger quarters

Networks Unimited
Mark Swain, left, president of Networks Unlimited, and Preston Thornburg, vice president, manage a firm offering a range of information technology services. The growing operation soon will move to a larger location at 610 Rood Ave. in downtown Grand Junction. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Mark Swain has wanted for some time to hire additional employees to keep pace with growing demand for the information technology services provided by Networks Unlimited. But space at the Grand Junction firm was very much limited, and Swain didn’t have any place left for additional staff to work.

That’s all about to change, though, as Networks Unlimited moves to a different and larger location. “We’ll actively bring more folks on,” said Swain, founder and president of the business.

Swain expects to soon complete the move to the new location at 610 Rood Ave., a downtown building previously occupied by Unifirst Mortgage, which in turn moved to a new location at 604 25 Road.

The new location for Networks Unlimited offers about 7,000 square feet of space, more than double the available space at the old location the operation has outgrown since moving there in 2004, Swain said.

More room will accommodate more staff. Networks Unlimited employs 17 people and an intern in Grand Junction and three more people in an office in Montrose, said Preston  Thornburg, vice president.

The move constitutes the latest milestone for a company Swain helped start in 2001 and subsequently has grown as well as changed along with technology.

Swain estimated Networks Unlimited has grown 15 percent to 18 percent a year. Technology has enabled the company to expand geographically to serve customers in all 50 states as well as a handful of foreign countries.

The company offers a range of services that include computer network setup and service, telephone systems and video conferencing, data backup and recovery and computer repairs and support.

Over the past decade, the company has shifted to offering managed services designed to meet the individual needs of customers, including small and mid-sized businesses. “We can really tailor our offering to any size customer,” Swain said.

The shift has changed the role of company from one of a firefighter putting out such “fires” as computer and network malfunctions to a more proactive approach in which the firm monitors and maintains networks to minimize down time, he said.

Thornburg said the shift has promoted a more collaborative approach among Networks Unlimited and its customers. “It’s a lot like a partnership.”

Swain said Networks Unlimited focuses on business-centric solutions. As an entrepreneur, he said he appreciates how computers and networks affect overall operations in improving processes and efficiencies and offering a return on the investment. “It just speaks to the business owner a lot more,” he said.

Swain attributed the growth of Networks Unlimited in large part to customer service. That starts with hiring employees for not only aptitude, but also the right attitude, he said.

Swain also attributed success to keeping pace with changing technology and offering the latest equipment, services and knowledge to customers. “That’s what attracts me to the industry.” he said. “We do try to really stay on top of that.”

But new technology alone doesn’t always best meet the needs of customers, Thornburg said.

Many businesses have transferred computing activity to the Internet, running software and storing data on the cloud, he said. There are number of advantages to that approach, including the ability to operate a business or work from any location with Internet access as well as the security of off-site data backup. Cloud computing also accommodates the growing use of smart phones, table computers and other mobile devices

Cloud-based services don’t work well for every business, though, he added. “Some of the time that doesn’t make sense.”

Businesses might also need the ability to access and work with data more quickly with on-site servers, he said.

Many businesses take advantage of what Thornburg called a hybrid approach in which some functions are handled on the cloud and other functions are handled on site.

As access to fast and reliable Internet services improves, more businesses likely will move more operations to the cloud, Swain said. But for now, hybrid installations sometimes work better.

Meanwhile, Swain said he’s grateful Networks Unlimited will no longer face the constriction of limited space. Even with continued growth, the new location should offer ample room for the next five to 10 years, he said.

Swain said he likes the downtown location within walking distance to coffee shops and restaurants as well as the culture of the area.

Moreover, Swain said he’s pleased with what the new and larger location represents in the continued growth of Networks Unlimited. “We’re proud of what we’ve done here.”

For more information about Networks Unlimited, call 243-3311 or visit the Web site located at www.networksunlimited.com.