Follow the Leaders
“It happened kind of naturally,” says Randy Sklar, when asked if there was one pivotal moment when his father handed him the reins to the family business. “I remember it was around 2001, when the economy started to go sour and our business was really suffering. He began to look toward me for guidance. I suggested we move away from retail where the return was just too low. I began to focus on our commercial accounts and developed a new program for them that eventually brought us the cash we needed at the time. We even turned a profit that year. That was the turning point.”
Randy later got some words of wisdom from two family business owners in his Roundtable: transitioning from second-in-command to primary business owner will have its bumps. It takes courage and faith, they said, and they were ready to help guide him through the exit strategy.
Today, Sklar Technology is a multi-million dollar company in the middle of a remodel. Randy plans to add more employees to his team of 13, and the preventive maintenance program he brought to the once ailing technology company is still an important part of his business, along with a program that thwarts malware which can cripple a business in minutes.
Sklar Technology began under a different name. In 1982 the business was called the Computer Corner, which back then more aptly described the retail-focused computer shop. As the commercial accounts and range of services grew, a name change was required in 2007 — to the chagrin of Randy’s father. But this was yet another necessary step to capture more accounts. It was also another example of son Sklar’s growing decision making power.
The company has shaken its retail services and has evolved to offer technology management and consulting, network administration and general IT support services to large and small commercial accounts located primarily in the Richmond region.
Randy explains his services in more detail: “Most small companies don’t have internal IT department to overlook their network and give support to the system users. We’re here to be an outsourced, virtual IT person. We handle all the normal services a company requires, like security, end user support, 24/7 monitoring and automated backup/rapid recovery services.”
He adds, “We see our customer’s data as an important asset, but unfortunately business leaders are typically delegating one of the most important areas of the business to the wrong person, persons who don’t have the skill or don’t understand the importance of a security breach, for example. Our customers are those who really depend on and value their data.”
Ransomware is a class of malware that restricts access to an infected computer system. To “get your computer back” you must pay the malware creator a ransom — which typically means coughing up several hundred dollars worth of bit coins.
Sound like a movie script? It’s not. It’s real and small to mid-size businesses are an easy target, says Randy. “People think that these culprits ‘break into’ your system. That’s not true. Businesses are tricked into installing the malicious software. It can be very disruptive. We’re helping a number of local businesses deal with this problem on a regular basis.”
The malware can lock up systems or erase data. For small businesses, it could mean appointments disappear, customer’s accounts are erased, or accounting systems are corrupted.
“Our unique approach is in our proprietary programs and processes. We start with a Risk Assessment to determine what assets are critical to the business and where relevant vulnerabilities exist, then we mitigate these threats and finally we implement our programs and services to keep the data secure and highly available for the end users. The key isn’t to stop this process, security is a discipline. Education and understanding is critical from a leadership standpoint, this is a business issue not an IT issue,” explains Randy.
Clearly the family business has evolved over the last three decades. When you speak with Randy in his office, you can’t help but see pictures of his young family scattered on his desk and on each shelf. We have to ask, “Will the children take over the business?” “There’s no pressure to do that,” Randy is quick to say, but then adds with a smile, “But, they DO already have business cards.”
Seems likely that Sklar Technology, no matter who is at the helm, will always be a family business.