Customer Stories

From Startup to Enterprise: Engineering IT Built to Scale

A case study with Power Grid Engineering, A Qualus Power Services Company

A PGE field services technician testing a relay in a power substation.

When it’s your business to design and build the infrastructure that provides electricity to the national grid, you understand the need for power and reliability. But, no business jumps right to the top of its game without laying the foundation to build and grow on.

Power Grid Engineering, a Qualus Power Services Company, came to ProSource as a small business. After a decade and acquisition, they’re nearly 900 employees strong with offices in multiple locations.

A city without power doesn’t grow, and a business without the right IT support doesn’t grow either. That’s where ProSource comes in.

Powering Now, Preparing for the Future

In 2011, three engineers came to ProSource understanding that while they were experts in their field, the current situation was not sustainable. Working from back bedrooms and garages with less than a handful of employees meant there wasn’t time, or expertise, to leverage technology in the way they needed to support their rapid growth.

As a startup moving into the next stage of growth, Power Grid Engineering needed a partner who saw and understood their rate of growth and their potential as well. When they came to ProSource, their team collaboration meant heading to one person’s house with USB drives and portable files. They relied a lot on Dropbox.

“We needed someone to take us to the next level. Opening an office building? Our speciality is protection and energy control. Our theory was the more hours we could do what we do, what we’re experts at, we can get someone to help us set up our IT and look towards the future with us. We didn’t want someone who would address what we needed immediately, but partner with us and understand where we needed to move forward as the office continued to grow,” confirms Glenn Durie, Principal Engineer/Co-Founder of Power Grid Engineering.

Even knowing their situation was untenable, their focus needed to be on their business, its growth, and their core competencies. They knew they needed a third party to pave the way for growth. They needed experts with a scalable solution and ProSource came recommended.

A move into an office meant a lot of change for the Power Grid team, offering significant benefits. Their new space needed everything from initial servers and deployment of a phone system. They needed functioning meeting rooms. They needed to be able to support a growing team via streamlined onboarding and offboarding procedures, policies, and tech support.

They needed to store, access, and share large CAD files quickly, easily, and securely. And, because their primary business at the time was electric substations (“everything behind the fence”), they needed flexibility and mobility with their technology and technicians.

ProSource’s experience and expertise allowed them to understand and forecast the stages of growth and what needed to be deployed to meet current challenges. In turn, Power Grid Engineering was able to leverage technology to be more competitive moving forward and continue their growth.

Growth Surges, Like Power Surges, Should Be Managed

Every business wants growth, but not every business is prepared to manage and nurture it. With business demands growing and a partnership flourishing, the ProSource and Power Grid teams were able to identify growth stage ceilings and create an agile strategy that allowed them to meet needs as they grew. And they grew. Meteorically.

“The strategic partnership really helped us improve uptime (and our billable hours). That was a milestone. Having your team come and hear our issues gave you the voice of the customer. Rather than just servicing and hosting from a standard slate, you developed a relationship that had you ingrained in our business. We were demanding, but we were growing and you grew to meet us. You served and advised us right. It was scalable technology designed to perform,” notes Glenn Durie, Principal Engineer/Co-Founder of Power Grid Engineering.

Part of that growth included the expansion of Power Grid Engineering’s field technician team. When servicing substations, technicians need reliable and secure access to applications and data, but with a growing team also comes potential security issues.

Through the development of a distributed file system (DFS) that connected multiple offices across multiple states, and creation of data governance policies including access control, ProSource was able to mitigate those risks. Further, this initiative would enable them to address the growing need for data and file access, decrease latency, and improve collaborative efforts.

All of these changes also enabled successful streamlining of onboarding procedures, which meant that, as the team grew, they were able to begin work right away, with tech assets prepared for the appropriate role. These efficiency improvements meant the Power Grid’s exponential growth was technologically sustainable. “The most valuable thing was recognizing we were growing and, as we continued to grow, you partnered with us to grow as well. You were just as vested in us being successful. You were a partner in our growth,” notes Glenn Durie.

Continued Growth and Evolving Needs

In the world of engineering, time is of the essence. More than that, engineering teams require communication and collaboration tools that empower teams to meet deadlines and facilitate adherence to the strict regulations required by governmental organizations and utility companies. This was further complicated by Power Grid’s need to connect multiple offices across multiple states while still providing real time access to track changes across critical documents. Knowing this, ProSource was able to provide Power Grid Engineering with a full suite of technology tools including voice services, servers, end user administration, hardware, cabling, and more.

With Power Grid’s growth rate, it meant assisting with office consolidations as well as moving offices and keeping everyone connected. In one case, it meant moving three separate office locations in Florida to one shared space, over the course of one weekend, with no downtime during business hours.

A four-story corporate office building next to a lake in Central Florida.
Power Grid Engineering’s Lake Mary office, a consolidation of three offices within Central Florida.

And, more than moving offices, it means understanding that business continuity was a growing need. ProSource initiated a disaster recovery (DR) plan as well as providing disaster recovery services when needed. While the goal of a DR plan is to be prepared with the hope it will never be needed, in this case it was.

However, the planning, attention to detail, and strategic forethought meant that when a technical failure occurred over one weekend, ProSource had the impacted hardware replaced immediately. Business continued as normal on Monday morning.

Eventually, Power Grid’s growth meant they needed an in-house team. While many vendors might politely bow out, as a pattern, ProSource continued to work with the Power Grid team to ensure the growth could continue at its current rate, with scalable infrastructure that adhered to increasingly complex and strict government regulations, like those applied to critical infrastructure projects.

“There came a point when we needed more IT resources, a bigger team. There were IT requirements from clients that necessitated hiring an IT person with our logo on it, and we engaged ProSource to help us vet for the position,” said Glenn Durie. “Understanding our infrastructure was helpful to finding someone who had the qualifications and could continue to take us where we needed to go.”

Not only did the ProSource team assist in vetting potential candidates, but they efficiently and effectively managed the transfer of knowledge to the new IT team and leadership. Much like the seamless delivery of services, what could have been a complicated handover process was handled as a partnership.

You encouraged us to grow when and where we needed to, even when it was time for us to go, when we’d outgrown the services. That takes a lot to say; it takes guts. It’s about relationships, integrity, and understanding the business enough to know when we were ready to fly on our own.

Glenn Durie, Principal Engineer/Co-Founder of Power Grid Engineering

Bottom Line

“I think we kind of grew together in figuring out and understanding what a high growth business would need. ProSource was a vital service at the start, but we grew into a partnership. Conversations with the team helped us make a lot of decisions, and we were able to move into a growth stage where we were starting to be incredibly demanding, and you grew to meet us,” Glenn says in closing.

Outcomes

  • Supported growth from 10 employees to 300+ over the course of 10 years
  • Opened remote offices in the following locations:
    • Winter Springs, FL (Sales)
    • Canton Cove, FL (Finance, Engineering)
    • El Dorado, KS
    • Raleigh, NC
    • Birmingham, AL
  • Built onboarding processes for employee roles and technology standards for rapid onboarding
  • Built a DR Plan for critical infrastructure, and executed it multiple times avoiding business downtime
  • Scaled infrastructure to support business apps (ERP/CAD), large data management infrastructure, and multi-state office openings
  • Consolidated multiple offices in Central Florida, consisting of 75 employees across three locations, with a weekend cutover and no downtime
  • Established a large, distributed field technician program with 100+ remote employees.
  • Assisted in the vetting and hiring of the new IT Director and knowledge transfer to the new staff
  • Provided solutions for NERC/CIP compliance, and managed a data encryption project