Growing up in Miami, Charles Berry, CEO and Founder of Total Care IT, a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP), spent 10 years as a professional student before discovering an opportunity to launch his career with Microsoft Certifications. Berry’s brother, who many would consider a serial entrepreneur, encouraged him to investigate the certifications. While waiting tables at night and taking college classes during the day, Berry passed the exams with ease and went on to work for Western Digitech. By the time he worked his way up to Senior Engineer, however, he was ready for a change.
“Living in Miami, I was taking my daughter to school before the sun came up and getting home after dark,” Berry said, referring to the traffic. “I was tired of it. I also wanted a different place to raise my daughter. I used to come up to Melbourne to surf all the time and I had friends in the area. It was the perfect place for us to move.”
Berry gave his notice and moved to Brevard County in 2001. Honoring his commitment to Western Digitech, he spent his final two months with the company commuting between Melbourne and Miami. After a year or two of doing part-time IT work and working in a restaurant, Berry launched Total Care IT in 2004.
“I spent the first two years working out of my house,” he said. “I had the technical know-how and knowledge of finance and accounting, but I was missing the sales piece. I eventually hired a pizza delivery guy, Dan. A year later, we moved the business into a warehouse off North Drive and worked out of that location for 10 years. For the past four years, we’ve been in a building we bought.”
Berry continued, “In terms of early growth, I joined the chamber and a BNI group. I later became president of that BNI group and, through networking, building relationships and mostly word-of-mouth referrals, the business started to expand.”
Berry also pointed to the emphasis he places on service delivery and technical ability as factors that contributed to his company’s growth. The process behind the laser-focused services, designed to work together, ensures the delivery of the incredible and unique end result. Total Care IT has grown into one of Brevard County’s most elite and respected IT businesses.
“Walmart wasn’t a successful multinational company overnight,” Berry pointed out. “They figured out over time what worked and how to deliver value. I’ve taken the same approach – I’m taking my time to find the most efficient way to deliver the most value. Now that our operations work as a well-oiled machine, we’re starting to focus on sales. We’re creating a repeatable process which identifies clients who are a good fit.“
Over the past 16 years, the common thread that has guided Total Care IT has been a focus on the customer and being proactive in the face of changing technology.
“We’re constantly absorbing new knowledge,” Berry said. “We’re never satisfied with what’s available and we’re always changing and learning. Maintaining the perfect balance of change & reliability is similar to the same balance of convenience and security; they are both paramount to the success of an MSP. As the first IT company to do Managed Services in Brevard County, we became extremely customer focused – to the point that we speak a different ‘language’ to our customers. Everyone can be proactive and fix computers. What makes us different are the powerful conversations we have as part of our customers business. As a result, we have long-standing customers and very little turnover.”
Berry continued, “Serving law firms has been a unique niche that has followed since the Western Digitech days. We’ve expanded into other professional services verticals; our dedication to specific verticals and the specifics on what makes a customer unique help drive the value of Total Care IT. We do not do copiers, phone systems, website and we aren’t everything to everyone. Some companies think they do what we do are just figuring this out.”
Looking ahead, Berry, is focused on building a sales engine that’s as awesome as the company’s service delivery component. As an IT Professional, he understands the importance of matching the ‘operational maturely level’ of a customer as part of the process. He’s also focused on remaining teachable and continuing to educate himself and his team on new technologies. “Our source of awesomeness is our staff,” he said. “As Jocko Willink said, ‘There are No Bad Teams, Only Bad Leaders.’”
What advice does Berry have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Start with ‘why’, fear nothing, ask for help and take responsibility for everything,” he said. “Always remain teachable. There was a group called SCORE made up of retired executives. When I first started the business and I learned about them, I figured they didn’t know anything about IT, so I didn’t use their services. I was wrong. While they didn’t know about IT, they did know how to run and grow a business. Being technical and running a technical organization are two different skill sets. I wished I used their services when I first got started. Also, at the time, I wasn’t open to learning leadership skills. I thought the technology was enough.”
Berry continued, “Also, in our world, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to be the biggest to provide the most value. I have guys that can accomplish more with less because of the process that has become part of our core. We carefully choose our focus daily and remain accountable to our goals. We help each other out of the self-deception box. We hire and promote the most humble, hungry and smart employees. Lastly, as Jim Collins points out in Good to Great, it’s critical to have core values. It doesn’t matter what they are, just have them.”