By Paul Briand
PORTSMOUTH – Dave Hodgdon threw a big 20th birthday party on Thursday, May 28.
The party was as much for his employees, his clients and his vendor partners as it was for him and his wife, JoAnn, as they celebrated the creation of their Portsmouth Computer Group two decades ago.
The party embodied his approach to how he has kept the business running and thriving for 20 years – how he’s reacted to the changing needs of customers as technology has changed, how he’s maintained a long-standing relations with customers and vendors, and how he’s retained employees, some of whom have been with him for many years.
Hodgdon is founder and CEO of the company located at 30 Mirona Road Extension.
Portsmouth Computer Group is a full-service information technology company that was on a different path when he and wife JoAnn, vice president/director of marketing and corporate communication, started the company.
Originally, the company’s focus was on training for Microsoft products. They were located at 75 Congress St. and had training rooms for all things Microsoft.
“Back then, it was new to everyone so that training was huge,” Hodgdon said.
But it didn’t take long before he knew the business model would ultimately shift.
His previous stint as vice president and director of sales at NECB Data Systems showed him a new path in 1998 for his business toward networking.
Then the Internet happened, in a big way.
“That really opened the door to many, many opportunities,” he said.
Networking companies for email and data exchange gave way to a larger electronic universe that, these days, embodies just about everything. As a result, said Hodgdon, these days his clients “expect us to do everything.”
He has what he calls “a four service delivery model.”
At the core of what he does is the centralized managed service. “You have to be an active managed service provider,” Hodgdon said.
The idea, according to Hodgdon, is to be more proactive than reactive to a client. To that end, certain checks and maintenances are performed on a regular basis to make sure systems are running as they should. “If you’re not calling me, then we’re doing our job,” he said.
For a monthly flat-rate fee, the company will completely manage the company’s IT needs.
The three other pillars within his managed service: Network administration (a tech who’s on site to deal with any issues), a help desk (where help is a phone call away from the simple – I can’t open a PDF – to the more complex), and what he calls a “real chief information officer” who will work more strategically with a client to make smart decisions about how to use their technology assets.
And there are other business offerings within PCG for clients with different needs. “They don’t need all of (managed services), they need part of it,” he said.
There is Break/Fix, which is a pay-as-you-go service to clients who summon PCG techs for help and are billed accordingly. And there is ClicknFix, a relatively new addition that is geared more toward the home user. From PC repairs to virus removal, from wireless to home security, from a networked baby monitor to an integrated entertainment system, ClicknFix is a response to how PCG has reacted to the internet of everything.
So much so that, in addition to his technology partners such as Microsoft, HP and Lenovo, he has added Sonos, the wireless surround-sound speaker pioneers, to the roster.
Hodgdon estimates that across all his services he has about 1,500 clients, large and small.
He described his May 28 anniversary party as a “big thank you to our clients.” At the same time, he gives a big shout-out to his 19 employees, who he describes as hardworking. He said the work, which can happen day or night, week days or weekends, can be a grind sometimes but he tries to keep in light in the office. “We work hard, but you have to have fun,” he said.
The customer appreciation party included live music, food, drink and giveaways, as well as technology workshops. The customer party was followed later that same evening by a Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce business After Hours event at the office., Portsmouth Computer Group currently has two offices – its primary location in Portsmouth and an office at 19 Weeks Lane in Dover that opened early last year. He is looking for another location, this one in Exeter, to serve the Exeter/Brentwood region he hopes in 2016 or 2017.
“The great thing about this business is it’s not dull, it’s exciting every day,” he said.