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Ep. 22: Taylor Ford of I.T.'s 4 Me

Summer of 50 PGH Tech Stories


Taylor Ford may have a degree in chemistry, but her passion and business is around all things technology. Her managed services company, I.T.'s 4 Me, brings information technology services to small and medium-sized companies at an approachable and understandable level. Taylor has an amazing story of following her passion and providing a valuable service. Summer of 50 PGH Tech Stories is powered by Comcast.



Hey everybody, this is Jonathan Kersting hanging out here with Comcast to bring you our summer of 50 Pittsburgh tech stories. I'm gonna tell everyone right now, they're going to have to strap on their seat belts. Because I'm talking to someone who brings it all the time. I've never known a time when Taylor Ford has not brought it in. She always brings it cuz he's gonna Pittsburgh's coolest people without a doubt. She's very inspiring. She's full of energy. She's gonna take live radio a few times. And every time I talked to her, I'm like, man, Taylor. She's got it going on, man. She's got to come back. I got a chance to interview Taylor. I'm like, let's do it. And then when this series come up, I'm like, Taylor's got to be on the show. So Taylor, thank you. It is for me good to see you again. How's it going?

Good to see you again. Hello, everyone.

Yeah, so glad to talk to you and for hit the record button. You're telling me that you're doing well and you're super swamped, obviously because you are like an honest right. Give us a quick little pitch about about about about about the company. Yeah, it is for me. I mean, you had you had your own, you've always had multiple gigs going on, then you decide your own thing. That's why I think you're so inspiring because like, no one can hold you down to one thing.

It doesn't no one does well trying to do that. Let's put it that way. Now we are, we are in it in managed service in digital media marketing company. And what we do is we provide it consultation is one of our legs. That's actually a lot of what we're doing right now. Because being in this virtual environment, a lot of people just don't know what they don't know. And now it does matter. We have a lot of people who are needing to buy a ton of laptops because they purchased you know, work desktops for their employees. And now they're going home. So they're doing repurchasing and even purchasing a large amount of software hardware is just a lot for any company. I mean, from the past Adjusting a bit to picking the device to handing out the device to you know, the inventory tracking, like all of that is a whole thing where they need you because it's a lot they didn't realize a lot of people just really didn't realize when it when COPPA hit, it was hard for the businesses It was kind of like an abrupt hole. It wasn't something that was done in phases. It wasn't something where they were, you know, they had time it was kind of just like you're done. And like at one fell swoop. So what was nice about our company was our current clientele. We actually were preparing them for this long before we have, yeah, because we support virtual environments. So our business is virtual. We have multiple offices. However, my office essentially follows me really wherever I go, right? So we help companies kind of adopt this idea because there are security that's behind that. So my in my information, can't just wait Walk with me everywhere, right? And there's no security behind it. So, you know, a lot of times I'm like, okay, we'll just get people laptops with their information on it. And it's no problem. Yeah, that's not the case. So we help them understand way early on, like we preach to be more proactive. So we don't like to be reactive. In any case, because it just leaves for mistakes. It leaves Russia, your pressure. They're pressured, were pressured, and never look like never works. Well. Yeah, we tried to, like prepare our clientele if you have, you know, let's say you have 10 desktops, we try to encourage you to get at least two laptops just in case something happens. Yeah, just back up, you know, just trying to even get them to understand that you can back up.

We're starting to believe that a lot more now than ever.

Like now they're getting it.

Especially the ones that last like we had a lot a lot of clientele who didn't do that. So they decided they were going to keep all the information Office, it's safe, it's protected. Well, we had to like literally transition them to an entire virtual environment. And that's fun.

Oh my god it was fun, very fun. you've not had much sleep in the past four months that's now ours call like a few days in the chat. You're like, Oh my goodness. Because Because I'm it's one of these things where it's not like when it first happened, but you know that you're you're busy. But now like people are trying to figure out whether how they're gonna go back to work. They have new plans about going back to work so that you keep reconfiguring their systems or think about new ways to do things based on what they think happened. And it's a great is ongoing for you, right?

It's very much so an ongoing thing is changing. By the day, you have different regulations. Now. You know, there's regulations for certain people that can be in the office. So we're looking at different bandwidth, like what we did a lot of was home computation, which was really surprising for employees that were going home there so they were home. husbands are home, their children are home, their TVs are all on. So everybody's using this Wi Fi bandwidth. everybody's on the same network. And it just some of them just weren't fast enough. So the mom who needed to use the network for her work computer, it was bogged down by all these other devices. So we had a lot of employees that our Internet's not fast enough. So we did consultations, where we just, you know, worked with Comcast, actually, and we talked with them. And we came on Yeah. People, yes, Comcast. They're my people, too. I always use Comcast for everything as far as like the internet connectivity. I use Comcast myself at home, I'm an xfinity user. And we have Comcast business for us as well. So a lot of my Comcast customers were, you know, calling me to ask what do we do? How do we do it? So it was like kind of playing to Devil's I was doing the IP consultation and you know, getting the client set up and then I was also interfacing with xfinity And Comcast, right in order to make sure that everybody had the proper solution, the proper speed, the proper password. It was a lot turned out like it was very opposite.

This is the delivering the strap on their seat belt. So it told me it could be a bumpy ride. It was interesting because a previous episode of our of our summer stories, I was talking to Tony Murphy at Comcast. And if you know Tony Nava Tony's like, another one of my favorite people, like he's just man, she's cool. And she's telling me just how Comcast had to step up to provide the bandwidth and the engineering that was going on behind the scenes a seamless thing because everyone takes it for granted. They think their, their emails on a laptop is gonna have their spreadsheets in front of them and they realize No, it takes smart women like you to make sure those things work. It takes smart engineers into the networks workings and all this stuff going on and make that gone. Exactly. I find it crazy. And that's why I'm glad you're around doing what you do. Because like I think so many of us would be in so much trouble. We didn't have really tight IT services as simple as that. Right? Right. And I've always liked your approach too, as well to remember when you first started the company, I was like, you're trying to make it simplified and not scary and understandable for people, which I think is the right. Like, like it's not threatening when you start talking about stuff. No, no, it will try to make it looks like me can understand.

Right, right, exactly. That's why it's called it is for me. If you think about anything where it's for me, it's typically taking something that's hard and making it for you and not for you can be anybody that can be a child, my son's four, and I teach for him because he works on his iPad, he draws an Apple Pencil, and he thinks he's doing really great. And then we have it from my grandmother. She owns two daycares. We have her set up with her iPad or her computers, all her printers. So try to make it you know, very easy for anyone to understand. We try to under help people Understand that technology is something that can be seamlessly integrated into your life, as long as you understand how to use it and what its purpose is supposed to be part because one of the things we've been talking about a lot in this series has been bridging the digital divide. And sometimes, Hey, be comfortable with technology. And to be able to understand it, we first there's the access to it, which we're all trying to work on to make sure that students have the right laptops and the right connectivity so they can continue to learn. But then actually being able to use this stuff and not be afraid, right? Talk about your grandmother and your kids is a two ends of the spectrum here where you're like, these are folks that need a little more sometimes, and to make right we could understandable. This means now they can start using it and now they're empowered in order to connect whatever they want to connect. Exactly. Exactly. That's our four pillars of education. And then we have integrity and we have empowerment and value. And simply put you know, whenever you go to Best Buy whenever you go to a bigger technology store and you go to buy a computer Their game is not really to help you buy the device that you actually meet. Typically, it's to get you to find something that you may still need help with. So you're going to come back, you're going to just keep coming back and you're going to pay Geek Squad or you're going to ask your question, you're going to keep coming back to spend more money. That's not our game. We do. All right. Yeah, exactly. We don't want you to have to keep using us like the Geek Squad, we want to educate you. So when you get a device with us about integrity, we're honest, we're not gonna make any money off of you off of this device. You either need it or you don't. And we're open and transparent with our people. We educate them on everything, after they're educated. And now they're using these devices to its fullest capability. Which means you're going to feel empowered in whatever situation they're in using that device are able to provide value. So that's what the four actually in it is. For me, it's the four core values that we hold. I learned something new today.

I just thought you're being clever with the numeral for it. Actually.

No, no, it was already For volume,

I like it. That's awesome. That's super cool. So what's your sweet spot for customer size?

Honestly, we like small to medium sized businesses. What we find is bigger businesses have bigger IT companies and they're robust, right? But the like the economy's actually powered from small businesses. And we're like the misfit and funny wherever always overlooked for our computers, you know, they don't make as much digital stain. If you have enough small businesses, you actually have more devices, more bandwidth, more security that's needed. In a bigger business. Small businesses are much more of a target for hacking for you know, intrusions, because you're smaller, you're not thinking you think you're not a target because you're small. And if you're small in size, but you're doing, you know, a million in revenue, you're still very much so a target. You're just all in your ads. So we try to empower our clients with that as well. Like they want We're small businesses, we don't matter, you matter just as much as a big business, if not more, because you're small and small, typically provides good quality, which is why we like to stay small. You know, we keep our unit pretty close. So every client gets that touch of a feel you can call anyone on my team, and they're just as knowledgeable about what's going on in your technological environment as anyone.

Absolutely. So let's change gears a little bit. You told me the story before, but I think some of our listeners of yours probably have not heard this. So what got you inspired? It got you like,  hooked on tech.

I always got them interested in what they do. And I think you've got a cool story around.

Well, mine actually started out from when I was a little girl, I've always been into it. I've always been into like devices, and once typically phones, so my mom would not allow so I wanted to start by my I had to figure out a way in order to get my money to do it. So my uncle Bobby was in the NFL and I told him at the age of 10, if you buy me a computer, I'll put the whole thing together and I'll start my own business by myself.

I love your job. Like that's so cool. Did he thought I was a joke. He was playing for the Seattle Seahawks at the time. Like she's not going to do that. So as a joke, he really went out and bought it. I mean, it wasn't, you know, he was an NFL player. So at the time, the computer wasn't, you know, anything. So they laughed, and they went, they were doing what they were doing and left me home. And when I went to actually build this computer, they came home. The computer was set up, I call it Windstream and I had back then it was Windstream. And I had our internet set up, my son's game on and I was playing my game the computer, and they were just like floored, like this little girl really went and did that. So after that I said okay, now I want you to talk to your player friends, because that's when the big old iPods were out like the big classic back A day. Remember the Dow okay those so players didn't know how to use them. Like I used to call them dumb jobs like you guys have lost money but you literally don't know how to use your iPod. Like, that's crazy. It was great. So I was like, okay, send me all your iPods. And then I would load up their music and then like, send it back to them. So I would get paid for my little, you know, loading up a bad pod and tell them how to use it. But I was like, 1011 like doing this and my family was floored because it really did work like it worked. So that was when I first knew my love. And then when they saw me helping the players, they saw me set the computer up. I actually then turned into my family tech person at like 1011 years old. So they were like, it was disturbing little for them to be asking me but I knew and then as we grew up, I really became the tech person so they didn't, no one was allowed to go to Best Buy you weren't allowed to go to any phone company. Unless I was there because I would have to pick up the pieces they would go to the store. buy these devices and come home and I don't know why I had this, I don't know. And I was like, I'm not doing this because I have to do the reps job. I like fixing the phone and telling you how to use it. So I said, You know what, I'm going into business. Because everybody needs these skills. And I'm tired of walking around each family member giving special classes. So I just started I wanted a business to help everybody and it's actually been quite successful. I'm very proud of it.

Freakin cool story and consulting at the age of like, 12 No, no, no. Because when I set that up, it's gonna mess up. So you're buying this.

Exactly. And I would be like a little commander in the, in the, you know, Verizon store and a little girl and I was like, No, he knows. I know what he needs to give him this device. I'm still that way like phone stores to this day know, when she comes in. We're not going to sell her anything. She's probably going to sell us like, exactly. Yeah, just let her go and do her thing. How'd you carry that momentum you through going to college and then like getting out and being like, you know, you work for some companies and decide you're going to start your own thing again, like, how'd that work? Well, you know what, that was a crazy story. So I actually went to school for chemical engineering, right? I did not go for anything that had anything to do with it. It was simply because I was always good at math. I was always going to chemistry. I graduated from open Catholic honors. And my sister had sickle cell. So I wanted to get my chemical engineering degree so that when I graduated, I would be able to research sickle cell to find a cure for her. That was what it was at its root. What?

Okay, yeah.

And so I went to school for chemical engineering. And when I came out in 2014, I had had my son, so I decided, you know, I went right into the workforce, and it was that catch 22 where either I was too qualified, meaning that I wasn't gonna want to stay because I felt like the job was beneath me. Or I was overqualified. Like, okay, like, you know, is your Either under or over, I didn't have enough experience or I had too much experience where they wouldn't think I would want to say so I dealt with that for a couple months. And it was always like my heart. Like, I was still always doing it stuff. Even in college, I had it jobs. I've never had a chemical job, which was funny cuz everybody else did. And I was tired of doing chemicals like I wanted to play with a computer. So that's what I actually had my experience. But that's not what my degree was. So I went and I became an IT person. I was just like an IT help person that we returned. And then within three years, I agreed to be the IT director, project manager, and I was the first African American woman there to ever hold that title. Oh, that's what I was like super excited, very honored. And after a while, I actually had a third party provider when I was there. They did exactly what I'm doing now. But they would make it difficult. They would charge me a lot of money for things that weren't getting done like they would come in on two days out of the week, and spend Three hours there, and then they would leave, and there'd be all these problems that I still had. So, wow, this isn't nothing's really happening. And then I would ask questions like, you know what's wrong with the phone and they would say, Oh, the telecommunicators not working to my boss. And I'm like, my boss is now thinking that we had this whole telecommunications system. And it was just a phone. So I was like, you know, you're not you need to be speaking in terms that people can understand. Because you're causing unnecessary stress and you're charging exorbitant fees for larger words. So I realized I'm just going to go in a business to help businesses I'm not going to go into business to make money off of you. That's essentially what you know what happens. They go into business and they do want to help you. But a lot of the time, they still have the profit. You know, it's a profit driven mindset. And I am a people driven mindset. We want to help you as a person, that's what I was doing as it director. I was saving my company money. I was going through big contracts like with Comcast, for example. We didn't want to a huge contract with Comcast. That was the biggest one that my company had done ever. And so we went and I was doing different types of things and I realized what I'm doing for one company, I could literally replicate myself and do for multiples and you know it will it'll help everybody you don't know what you don't know and I make it my business to make sure that you know that you're educated so you can make the right decisions for your business.

Such a cool story all the way around.

Because I can tell it's your passion is your jam without a doubt and that's why I'm gonna talk to you and give our listeners and our viewers a little sliver of what you're all about. I get till everybody What a fun ride and I wish you continued success doing what your job is why having such a great time this summer telling some of these 50 stories with Comcast because you're out there inspiring a lot of people Taylor, you need 100 more of you in Pittsburgh, the tuner more reviews.

Well, I'm trying

new fresh No pressure. Keep up the good work. Great talking with you.

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