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First Choice Medical Supply: Getting Back to Core Responsibilities

By relying on Fuse.Cloud for phone, fiber and IT support, Kevin Crothers was able to get back to coding to grow the company he worked for.

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See how partnering with Fuse.Cloud helps Kevin Crothers, a senior-level software engineer, outsource his company’s IT tasks so he can get real work done.

Kevin Crothers gets right to the point when he talks about the partnership he had between his former company, First Choice Medical Supply (FCMS), and Fuse.Cloud for voice, fiber Internet and managed IT services.

“With Fuse.Cloud doing the grunt work–no offense!–of installations and managing routers, it meant I could do my real work, which grew the company so we could sell it,” Crothers said.

FCMS, started from scratch in the mid-2000s, grew to over $200 million in revenue before being acquired this year.

Now the Senior Director of Software Engineering at McKesson, Crothers was previously the Director of Information Technology for FCMS. The company grew as a medical supply company in part because Crothers would work with potential customers to integrate online fulfillment directly into their accounting software.

“We had clients running Peachtree Accounting, Great Plains or NetSuite,” Crothers said. “And our competitors wouldn’t do the integration. I told them ‘I can do that,’ and we would get them as customers. We grew revenue every year for 17 years. 98.7 percent of our customer communications were online–building those integrations was critical.”

While programming was his core responsibility, FCMS also relied on Crothers for major IT projects; he said they didn’t want to hire a large IT department.

“Keeping a network running with denial of service attacks; permit changes; routing changes; a carrier has a line down–every business with more than a few employees has to deal with that,” he said.

“But doing $200 million in e-commerce means programming,” he said. “When I ran into an IT support group like Fuse.Cloud has, it was a relief. It allowed me to get back to the keyboard and write code.”

Outsourcing IT installations made it possible for Crothers to oversee high-quality phone, fiber and IT installations for his company, while leaving him free to code new products.

Fuse.Cloud (then Broadband Voice) started out offering VoIP phone service and PA equipment for a warehouse that FCMS had in Dallas, Texas. “They proved themselves within six months,” Crothers said, leading to more warehouse installations around the country.

FCMS had locations from Portland, Oregon to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; Compton, California to Miramar, Florida; Fuse.Cloud began providing voice and Internet for all of them.

“I didn’t have to go there,” Crothers said about those installations in warehouses. “I used to have to go to the location and install each T-1, cable or DSL line–run conduit, run cable, meet the specifications of the property manager–it’s always something,” he said.

“Fuse.Cloud worked with my project manager and it just got done. They did the dirty work. In warehouses, you’ve got to work nights and weekends. Most providers laugh when you ask them to do that,” he said.

Crothers also believes he’s gotten better service from Fuse.Cloud as an Internet provider than he would have from others. “If it is going to be down, they’ll let you know. If they have to power down for maintenance, they’ll check and make sure your backup is fine. If there’s any downtime anticipated, they’ll see it, and I get a call and an email. No one else had done that.”

With their successful partnership on phones and data, eventually FCMS decided to work with Fuse.Cloud for their managed IT services, called Fuse.IT.

Fuse.Cloud Phone and Internet Setup

First Choice Medical was able to reply on Fuse.Cloud for security and HIPAA compliance.

Because they were a medical supply distributor, First Choice had both HIPAA and OSHA requirements that had to be a part of any network installation and PC workflow.

Crothers said that the Fuse.Cloud team wouldn’t work to just stay compliant, but they’d troubleshoot for any gaps in compliance and recommend new solutions.

“Ben Sims and two of his guys personally helped me review file sharing, email attachments, email itself, storage, archiving email, archiving files.” Crothers said. “They’d be great for IT support for a hospital or clinic, because they know what HIPAA is and how to work with it.”

After a successful test in FCMS’s Richland, Mississippi location, Crothers tried Fuse.IT in Olathe, Kansas and in Dallas. That worked, so they expanded to Phoenix, Arizona and Lexington, Kentucky.

Eventually Fuse.Cloud worked in 12 locations around the country for First Choice, supporting upwards of 260 employees.

“Honestly, I might have jumped ship if it wasn’t for Fuse.Cloud,” Crothers said. “I’m a systems developer. Getting support from them let me do the best part of my job and build solutions–which is exactly what my CEO and majority shareholders wanted.”

Fuse.Cloud offers VoIP, fiber and managed IT services for companies of all sizes. Want a free consultation? Get in touch today!

September 25, 2019

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