by Ian MacRae
President and CEO, E-N Computers
E-N Computers has been serving Washington, D.C. since the early 2000s. After founding E-N Computers in 1997, I became an integrator of a computer-based medical imaging solution, which involved servicing some clients in the D.C. area. I quickly fell in love with Washington, D.C. and the city’s vibrancy with all its arts and culture.
When I got started in the D.C. market, little did I realize that medical and dental offices are only a small fraction of the businesses in the area. As the seat of our nation’s laws and military-intelligence complex, it took me several more years to get to know the full business scene inside the Beltway. Unlike any other American city, D.C. has many non-profit advocacy groups, datacenters, and government contractors. Due to such a high concentration of these specialized organizations and the high demand that many of them place on highly trained IT people and vendors, a number of large IT organizations have taken root in the DMV area to support them.
When building my Top 5 list, I focused on firms that are able to service one or more of the industries that make D.C. unique. However, I didn’t include companies that only sell services to the government or military. I also focused on firms with headquarters in the DMV region within a short drive from D.C. and have offices in D.C. While I often see companies servicing the greater D.C. market from the entire I-95 corridor from New York to Richmond, I only included companies that focus their operations in and around the Beltway.
To me, a reliable IT vendor has to have moved beyond a craft-based approach and has developed a process to ensure good support outcomes. Through being active in several IT professional peer groups (Beltway Brigade, TruMethods & Connectwise HTG) I have found that IT companies start to rely on their internal processes once they hit 20 or more employees.
Lastly, why should you consider my opinions? Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with many IT vendors as part of onboarding or offboarding clients to or from another service provider. Or we’ve been brought in as a third-party consultant or auditor and have reviewed their work up-close. I’ve also met many of the leaders of these firms through peer groups or networking events.
To recap, the requirements for my Top 5 list are:
1) Able to service a client with 20-150 employees in one or more of the common types of organizations you find in the D.C. market
2) Headquarters in Washington D.C., Virginia, or Maryland with a service presence in the D.C. metro area
3) At least 20 employees on the payroll — none of the (in)famous fly-by-night subcontractor virtual organizations.
Drum roll, please. Here are my picks for the best IT providers in Washington, D.C.:
A reliable IT vendor has to have moved beyond a craft-based approach and has developed a process to ensure good support outcomes.
5) Hilltop Consultants: Based on K Street in Washington D.C. Hilltop Consultants is known for supporting the types of organizations you’d find along K Street: Lawyers and trade associations. With 70 employees, Hilltop prides itself on responsive, 24×7 local support that’s only a metro ride away.
Plus, Hilltop has the advantage of Yoda being part of their team! No other IT company here line you up for a consultation with Caleb Yoda. Caleb is much more handsome than the Green Yoda, and thank you for letting me have a little fun with your last name Caleb. All this makes Hilltop nationally ranked as 34th on a list of 501 of the best MSPs around the world.
4) Network Depot: I was out with a friend at LaCosecha, Union Market and made the mistake of walking past the Adelante Shoe Co. stand. What seemed like an eternity later, but was probably only an awkward 4 minutes, we left informed about how we could own a pair of custom made and fitted shoes with our choice of stitching colors. I once heard that consumers left downtown stores with helpful salespeople in favor of big-box stores, not because of the low prices, but because they didn’t want to talk to those “helpful salespeople.”
In today’s complex IT set-ups, a lot of IT companies want to help their customers develop an IT plan to make sure everything works together. But what if you don’t want to spend the time to have a planning conversation. A lot of people want to run their systems without a plan until they break and see what their best options are then. If that’s your plan, Network Depot is here to serve you on your terms, and due to this, they are able to offer “Depot” pricing for the past 29 years.
Unlike the “Depot” stores where you might be waiting for an associate to come and help you, there is no waiting with Network Depot. Once at a trade event for ConnectWise, a service management software E-N Computers and Network Depot both use, CEO Rich Forsen asked me to masquerade as a new customer and submit a request. Inside of 5 minutes, I was contacted by sales. Network Depot is my pick for prompt Reston based support for organizations that know what they want.
3) MainSpring: Although I had been working in DC for 20 years, I had never run into MainSpring until I met founder and CEO Marshall Micheals as part of a TruMethods Peer Group in 2017. Based in Fredrick, Maryland, MainSpring’s 45+ person team can support all types of organizations and has particular expertise in non-profit associations.
What I like about Marshall is that he has software development experience. Marshall’s background gives MainSpring a systems perspective that I too share. The MainSpring team can map out and support your data’s entire lifecycle, from the first collection on a form through to the final deletion as part of a records retention policy. Lots of IT companies can “keep the lights on,” but few have holistic solutions like MainSpring. This holistic approach has helped the MindSpring team map out how large associations retain and manage their member’s records.
2) D.P. Solutions: Over the 23+ years of owning E-N Computers, I have much appreciated gaining diversity on our team. I have seen firsthand how much better we operate having strong female leadership. Having Karyn Schell as president of D.P. Solutions in a male-dominated industry such as IT infrastructure support gives D.P. Solutions an extra edge. I believe I’ve seen that edge in the marketplace as I’ve watched D.P. Solutions grow in the past years.
D.P. Solutions offers general business IT support and can handle all common industries found in the D.C. Metro area. Customers also appreciate their straightforward website, which clearly outlines what to expect, from a client Bill of Rights to an RFP template. However, unlike some others on this list, D.P. Solutions is still small enough at 63+ employees to feel like a family operation. Founded in 1971 D.P. Solutions has a track record of successfully replacing key leaders and developing new products over 49 years. The company is based in Columbia, Maryland, and operates offices in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
1) Dataprise: With corporate offices in Rockville, Maryland, Dataprise is a well-respected regional managed service provider. In recent years they have blown up into a national player. With over 150 employees in the D.C. metro area and 300 total employees, Dataprise has grown by focused on mid-sized organizations since 1995.
I appreciate the leadership of David Eisner, former CEO of Dataprise, because he developed a company culture of clear communication and pricing. For example, Dataprise offers per-user IT support pricing, versus charging for techie tools, which might be challenging to keep track of whether or not they are actually in use for your organization. Under the new leadership of Steve Lewis, who has an MBA background, rather than the founding CEO’s technical background, it will be interesting to see the future trajectory of the company.
I’d also like to make a few honorable mentions. These two IT service providers are based outside of the D.C. area, but still have a strong presence in and around the Beltway:
1) Miles Technology is a pretty interesting MSP, offering SharePoint development, like MainSpring, based out of New Jersey, which also has an office in D.C.
2) TechImpact is a non-profit focused service provider who merged with a D.C. outfit and has now consolidated operations to almost all Philadelphia based staff.
Here are two smaller service providers that provide great thought leadership and consulting through fewer than 20 employees.
1) SysArc based in Rockville Maryland, specializes in helping defense contractors with DFARS, CMMC, and NIST 800-171 compliance.
2) And for the lawyers among us, Sensei, based in Reston, is the only IT company I know owned by a lawyer.
Lastly, a big (140 employee) and fluffy cloud-focused local player I couldn’t get into the top five but I think has potential is nTiva. They’ve grown a lot through acquisition in D.C. and beyond, so it will be interesting to see how their company culture gels over time.
As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing an IT provider in D.C., Maryland, or Northern Virginia. Here at E-N Computers, we want businesses of every size and in every industry to get the IT support that they need at the price that’s right for them.
If you’d like to find out if E-N Computers is the right Washington, D.C. IT service provider for you, check out the following case study:
And if you’d like some help choosing the right IT provider, reach out to me via the contact form or live chat. We’d love to talk to you about your IT needs and help you to select an IT provider that works for you.