Long-time AKUITY client Rocheleau Tool & Die, located in Fitchburg, MA, has innovated and adapted to the world around them since 1938. Lisa Rocheleau says this evolution is essential to doing business as the world grows more interconnected – which can be a double edged sword when it comes to customer satisfaction. As Lisa put it, “If we can’t solve a customer’s problem, they’re going to find somebody who can. That’s what we try to do, and we look to our vendors to do that for us as well.”
Read on to learn more about how Rocheleau has evolved to changes in business and technology over the last eighty years.
Celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2018, Rocheleau Tool & Die manufactures custom blow molding systems, molds, and automations for its clients across the world from its Fitchburg, MA headquarters. The company got its start as a tool & die shop, moving into blow molding machinery in the 1960s. According to Lisa Rocheleau, her grandfather’s blow molding techniques create goods with air trapped inside plastic, such as milk bottles, doll arms, or maple syrup containers.
Lisa is one of the 3rd generation owners of Rocheleau Tool & Die. She serves as the CFO, HR Manager, and IT Director, though she says, “I don’t have that background,” referring to IT, “and I don’t have anyone else here that does any sort of IT.” Rocheleau didn’t have computers in 1996 when she joined – they had been doing business without computers since the 1930s – but Lisa recognized it was time to embrace technology. “Business does evolve,” she acknowledged, “and you have to. There’s not a lot of just plain-old machine shops that just do job stuff anymore – a lot of that went overseas.”
Lisa enlisted a consultant to bring in computers and servers. Their consultant, Todd, “did everything. He set up our first server, he showed us how to save files – our whole structure of everything started from zero.” As they trusted his guidance, Rocheleau stayed under Todd’s care, even as the companies he worked for were repeatedly acquired. In 2012, the company Todd worked with decided to focus solely on healthcare, leaving Rocheleau without a technology manager.
To help make the best decisions she could in a world she wasn’t well versed in, Lisa interviewed several IT management companies, including AKUITY. Lisa felt that many of the companies she spoke to were, “very dismissive of my questions, patronizing. I didn’t feel as though they were taking my concerns seriously.” On the other hand, in AKUITY personnel she saw, “the perfect combination of listening and making sure we understood their capabilities.”
Though she preferred AKUITY over the other companies she met with, Lisa was wary of the managed service model overall. She decided to put AKUITY to the test with a project in 2012: upgrading their 25-year-old phone systems. This project was in its early stages when the unexpected happened – Rocheleau’s building was hit by lightning during a storm. “It fried our phone system,” Lisa recalls, referring to the phones Rocheleau had since the 80s.
Unsure what else to do, Lisa called AKUITY. Luckily, AKUITY had just received the equipment needed for Rocheleau’s phones, and brought it straight up to their Fitchburg offices. Once Lisa saw how this awareness of Rocheleau’s infrastructure would allow AKUITY to anticipate and plan for her needs, she was convinced the managed service program would work for them.
It took a bit more for Rocheleau’s staff to develop the same trust in AKUITY, and in the beginning Lisa said she had to walk her more skeptical employees through calling support. “I mean the help desk is so easy – our phones are programmed so you dial H-E-L-P and they answer, ‘hello, Rocheleau Help Desk.’ It’s awesome.” Once they saw how easy it was to get support without judgement, her employees embraced the program. Lisa said this is one way the AKUITY managed IT service, “takes so much more off my plate.”
As for the ‘lifeblood’ of Rocheleau, the records and data, Lisa is confident in AKUITY’s disaster recovery plan. She said before AKUITY, “I was doing daily backups, which rolled up into weekly backups, and now I’m getting hourly backups. Hopefully I don’t have any kind of catastrophic loss but you never know – look at the explosions in Andover with the gas lines – you don’t know what’s going to happen. The hurricane coming into South Carolina – there’s people who are going to need their backups.”
AKUITY’s services have helped Rocheleau as a whole, and Lisa indicated that, “What’s been really good for me is the vCIO. I wear so many different hats, I do so many different things, and it’s hard for a non-technical person to know everything I need to know about technology and what’s going on in the world.” With a Virtual Chief Information Officer, however, “I literally have a plan now,” Lisa said. “We have regularly scheduled meetings, we talk about different things that might be coming up, or issues I might be having in my manufacturing plant – not just in the office. I was thinking ‘AKUITY will be able to help me in the office with my computers,’ but they’re helping me with the whole business overall, the manufacturing, and how the integration between the shop floor and the office happens.”
Lisa appreciates the proactive direction her vCIO offers, and says it’s, “a key piece of how AKUITY keeps my business safe and running. The machinists, they make our parts, they need to be able to work. If their machines are down, or they can’t get the data they need, they can’t work.” In her view, AKUITY has been, “able to integrate the different kinds of software from all different kinds of manufacturers, and will [work with] other companies’ technical people,” to solve problems. Once Lisa and AKUITY agree on a plan, she and her vCIO will work out a schedule to implement it without overloading her systems or interrupting workflow.
At the end of the day, Lisa says she’s not concerned about not being a technology expert at this point. “I don’t know exactly how it all works, but that’s ok because John does, because Rob does.”