“The hallmark of service in a digital age is human interaction, and we employ great humans.”
The calm demeanor of Toby Musser as he arrives at his office in the WSMT Building on Churchville Road in Bel Air surely belies the frenzied activity that must surround him wherever he goes – from his home in Bel Air with his wife and eight children, to his thriving technology business with 15 employees. This morning, someone can be heard relaying a message to a colleague that a client’s email system keeps going down. There are sounds of tech professionals mobilizing for action – murmurs, keyboard clicks, cell phone beeps. Musser admits that the offices are “bursting at the seams” and that MNS (Managed Network Services) Group is expanding within this building, the third the company has occupied in the last 14 years.
Musser sits in an oversized leather club chair in his office and talks about what differentiates MNS Group from its competition and why there is enough business out there for everyone. “In an age when every technology group refers to themselves as a managed service provider, it’s most important to examine their expertise in providing business value to clients,” he says. “Everyone expects when hiring a technology firm for cybersecurity, helpdesk and other tasks that they’ll do the job they’re hired to do. That is the baseline. The difference is in the way you interact with and help people.”
• Leader in technology management
• International network of certified IT specialists
• AICPA SSAE-16 SOC (Formerly SAS 70 Type II)
The IT and network security company grew from a few people in the basement of a Bel Air building in 1999, to a building on Main Street and then expanded into the former Slavie Federal building, now the WSMT building. Musser discusses that growth, and future growth with confidence. “There are so many service companies doing an average or below average job of servicing clients that there is more than enough business out there for those focused on quality,” he explains. “Our motto is: The hallmark of service in a digital age is human interaction, and we employ great humans.”
In fact, one of the key messages the company’s collateral material communicates is, “We are people helping people – and using technology to do so.” The employees who make up the team of MNS Group are trained not only in technology but also in social skills and communication. MNS Group stresses interactivity with clients, calling themselves “The Human Cloud.” Musser says it’s all about frequent – but not annoying – communication. “It’s letting clients know what has been done, what is being done and what will be done, permitting them the opportunity to interact with questions and ideas as work is being processed,” he explains.
Client contracts are flexible. MNS Group calls them “living contracts,” because they may change based on the needs of the client’s business. Services are billed based on people, not devices. Musser says this supports employees, and the constellation of devices that surround them. MNS Group mentors smaller IT companies, whom they may even acquire in the long run. The internal teams know the reach and depth of their own expertise, and they also know other experts throughout the industry. This professional network allows them to reach out to these experts as necessary. “The bottom line is to serve clients first. If you take care of the client, then the money follows,” Musser says.
MNS Group also employs 35 contractors, and an international service network of certified IT specialists for client support in more than 290 locations on six continents. Musser calls it international service with a local touch. The organization utilizes Lean/Six Sigma practices and processes, and Musser explains that they maintain that posture with a process-based approach to the companies they serve. Clients must have a similar mindset if the match is to be successful. MNS Group forges partnerships with businesses interested in becoming better businesses themselves. The MNS Group helpdesk service comes as part of a suite of consulting services that include security monitoring, planning and budgeting, business process consulting and software development.
Musser describes his company as being known for responding to clients’ needs from the first phone call. Clients don’t have to navigate through layers of people to find someone to help them. MNS Group hires high-level employees with both technical and social skills. They use a collaborative approach to determine the best solutions to achieve goals and drive profit for clients.
Musser says he is most proud of his team of people who have allowed the business to succeed. “It’s been a humbling experience to benefit from their dedication and wisdom every day,” he says. With industry turnover at just under three years, Musser places great value on employee retention – providing leading edge instruction and education, as well as offering the opportunity for upward career mobility. MNS Group provides regular training for its employees, and covers the cost of certifications and continuing education. “We believe excellence is always a few yards in front of us, and we always strive to reach the next first down. We devote significant resources to bettering ourselves so we can be a better resource for clients,” Musser says.
In addition, the organizational structure is designed for development and advancement. Musser likens it to the Roman Legion. The employees are divided into teams. Each client has a three-person team assigned to its business. The group includes a team leader, a second-in-command technical person and a development person, or learner. According to Musser, this model ensures that there is always someone who knows the client’s business. “We teach our clients to have backup for their data, so we do the same thing. We provide backup, so if the lead person is out, then the second in command knows what to do,” Musser explains.
Not only does MNS Group invest in its employees, it invests in the community. Musser, who is president of the board of the Center for the Arts, says he gives employees the opportunity to support causes of their choice. Whether donating time, people power or funding, the support currently includes enhancing the lives of children by providing food, education and mentoring to children around the world. “A key part of motivating employees is to not exist for profit alone. You have to be for purpose as well, improving the world around you to make it a better place,” he observes.
A Harford County native, Musser says his first job was milking cows for a neighbor across the street from his parents’ home in North Harford County. Since then, he’s run a number of businesses in Harford County. When not working, Musser says his spare time is spent investing in his marriage and his eight children – three boys and five girls, ranging in age from 5 to 19. He also practices welding as a form of art, and he is an avid reader, currently studying several books. A couple of his current reads? “Right now, ‘Ten Secrets for the Man in the Mirror.’ And always the Bible,” he replies. I95