When Hurricane Laura, one of the most powerful storms ever to make landfall in the United States, rolled up on the shores of Louisiana on August 27, executives at solution provider Last Mile Strategies knew they needed to help local businesses rapidly regain connectivity in the wake of the deadly Category 4 storm.
“The destruction was something you had to see to really take in. The consequences of that was infrastructure — everything that wasn‘t in the ground — was devastated,” said Dan Majure, president of Alexandria, La.-based Last Mile Strategies (LMS).
Hurricane Laura “completely leveled” the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and surrounding areas, a key secondary market and one of the largest cities in the state, Majure said. The storm made landfall on a Thursday night. The name of the game on Friday was getting trees off houses and making sure friends and family were OK, but by Sunday and Monday, business owners were wondering how they were going to be able to connect to the applications they needed to get work done and to make sure their employees were paid on time — all without power and catastrophic damage to the cable connectivity infrastructure.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, LMS began evaluating a handful of providers that could provide immediate connectivity to their clients that didn‘t have a backup connection, including fixed LTE and satellite providers. However, many providers were offering 4-5, or in some cases, 7-10 day install timeframes to get these businesses get back up and running. The three-year old solution provider then reached out to its master agent, Telarus, for help finding the right provider for the challenge. Sandy, Utah-based Telarus connected Majure and his team with For2Fi, a new company specializing in 4G LTE wireless internet services for businesses that launched in April.
“As soon as [the work] landed on For2Fi‘s desk, we immediately got a response and a plan of action,” Majure said.
For2Fi shipped 24 Cradlepoint devices for LTE connectivity on Sunday that arrived to LMS on Monday. “The fact that we had devices in an office by 10 a.m. Tuesday morning and could start deploying to customers was really great,” he said. ”It was 24 hours instead of a week.”
One customer that received an LTE device was a small generator shop that had been inundated as a result of the hurricane but couldn‘t reach its systems online. LMS also helped several of its construction, hospitality, healthcare and engineering clients come back online by Wednesday, Majure said. LMS has deployed the For2Fi solution to about 30 customers so far and has sales leads for the next two months.
“People were so excited to be taken care of because they didn‘t think they had any options,” he said. ”The speed and flexibility were huge for us.”
For2Fi, co-founded by former MSP owner Andrew Gregoire, helped LMS manage the LTE devices on behalf of the customers. “I jumped on this myself because I wanted to make sure the devices got turned up properly with the right data plans,” said Gregoire, CEO of Fall River, Mass.-based For2Fi. ”You can go to a retail store and buy your hot spots, but you need the support behind it to make sure the devices do what they need to do.”
Gregoire, who comes from the channel world himself, understands the importance of having strong relationships with suppliers and post-deployment support and management. “Understanding what [solution providers] are going through was how For2Fi was founded. Because of that, I will never, as owner of this company, have anyone deal with red tape. It‘s not how we are going to do business,” he said.
Gregoire previously served as co-founder and CEO of MSP ACE Technology Advisors for more than nine years until November 2019. ACE Technology Advisors continues to be led by Gregoire‘s co-founder, Lou DiMuzio, president of ACE Technology Advisors.
LMS expects the majority of its clients that didn‘t have a disaster recovery strategy prior to the storm will keep the For2Fi solution in place, Majure said. LMS’s typical connectivity design built for failover for its clients includes a primary circuit and a secondary cable modem, layered with SD-WAN. By tying in an LTE offering like For2Fi’s, partners can put together a very cost-effective connectivity and disaster recovery solution for even their smaller business clients.
Majure said that For2Fi‘s solution also gives partners another avenue of recurring revenue. “You can really build this really robust solution for a pretty economical price point for SMBs, and so far, the market has responded really well to it.”