HOSTSEARCH: Hi Richard, it's such a great opportunity that we have a chance to talk with you today. It would be good if you could let our visitors know a little about AIT.
RICHARD KIRBY: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. We started in a garage, with our current CEO, Clarence Briggs, developing the company during his off time while serving in the United States Army. Since these humble beginnings we have developed into one of the leading web hosting companies over the past 15 years. In that time we have seen the industry grow and flux, yet despite all the changes AIT has been able to remain an industry leader.
HOSTSEARCH: What make you decide to join AIT and what are your day-to-day roles here?
RICHARD KIRBY: It is a little bit of a unique story. I served in the Army for 5.5 years and had just transitioned out. I was looking to work at a local bicycle shop when I was offered the customer service representative manager position. The industry intrigued me and the pay was better than fixing flats and busted bike chains. The biggest thing that brought me to AIT was the fact that we are a big small company. Although we have over 210,000 customers, we only have 30 employees. This creates a close knit group of individuals who are focused on a common goal, creating and maintaining an industry leader. This environment and mindset was familiar and comfortable to me as it replicates the military environment I just came from. After about a month the chief marketing officer at the time left to take another job. Rather than hire from the outside and have to train another individual all the inner workings of the company, AIT decided to just move me into the position and incorporate many of my existing manager roles. I never know exactly what I am going to be doing the next day which makes it exciting. A typical day for me begins around 7 and runs full throttle until 5. My main focus is marketing and I will sit down with my marketing gurus and work on any current marketing campaigns we are offering to new and existing customers. We will also look at the current industry battleground and forecast what new products we should look into in order to stay ahead of the curve, think market and customer analysis. In addition to my main focus I will also oversee and work closely with my customer service manager to ensure that our award winning customer service stays above the industry standard.
HOSTSEARCH: As AIT has been in the hosting industry for long time, can you give us an idea of the size and growth of your company?
RICHARD KIRBY: As mentioned before AIT is a “Big” small company. Although we have a sizable footprint in the industry you never guess it by looking at the size of our staff. This small staff allows us to remain extremely flexible and quick to react to any changes. As our company has grown over the years we have done what is necessary to keep our growth positive as the industry ebbed and flowed around us. AIT is always working towards positive gains. Our sustained growth comes from our retention of our customers, which is shown by our commitment to provide quality solutions and exceptional service.
HOSTSEARCH: I noticed that in the recent press release, AIT focused on assisting those affected by the Japanese Tsunami Victims. Please tell us more about this.
RICHARD KIRBY: Because we are a world-wide company we have a sizable customer base in Japan. As we saw the tragic events unfold in Japan we decided that because we are a company that prides itself in customer service we had to do something for our Japanese customers. What we decided to do was to give all of our Japanese customers 2 free months of web hosting. Our hope is that we can relieve them of at least some of the hardship they are going through. There is no telling how long it will take our Japanese customers to recover, because of this we are working closely with our Japanese customers on an individual bases to adjust their plans based on their current economic situation.
HOSTSEARCH: What is your core product? Which one is the best selling?
RICHARD KIRBY: We specialize in providing fully managed solutions. We focus on fully managed products because we understand that most of our customers are entrepreneurs at some level and often times are pressed for time because they have to do multiple things to run their own business or organization. Because of this time crunch, customers don’t always have the ability to sit down and fully understand every little detail that it takes to successfully manage a web platform. That is where we come in. You tell us what you need and we will take care of the rest and with our services open 24/7 we are working when most of our customers are working, during off hours.
Our best selling product right now would have to be our reseller line of services. I think this again goes to show that most of our customers are go getters wanting to build their own businesses and be their own boss. It feels great as a company that those people are willing to place their dreams in our care. Not only do we see sales in our Reseller product line, we’re also seeing very large increases in our Dedicated server product. As costs in this area come down, this type of service is becoming more popular because of the resources provided and the fact that other customers aren’t impacting on your business; such can be the case in a shared hosting environment.
HOSTSEARCH: What kind of packages do you offer Resellers?
RICHARD KIRBY: We are offering multiple different packages for our resellers. Our simplest package starts at $30 a month and gives you the ability to host 5 different virtual hosts on a shared environment. If the customers business is booming and they need to grow, they can move up a dedicated machine with up to 250GB of disk space. We’ve got different levels in between to accommodate our different customers’ needs.
HOSTSEARCH: What is the benefit to the user that using your Reseller products and services? Why choose AIT over others?
RICHARD KIRBY: AIT is one of the most robust and reliable companies in the industry. We have been around for 15 years, seen two economic recessions and multiple hardware, software, you name it, issues. Despite all of this we have been able to maintain positive growth and remain at the forefront of the industry. The benefit that a user would get from us and why they should chose us is that they will know for sure that they are getting a known and solid product. We aren’t the flashy European sports car that will take you from 0-60 and around the block in 5.2 seconds and then run out of gas and break down. We are the rugged, durable and reliable pick-up truck that will start for you in the middle of the night when it is 30 degrees below zero and then drive you and all your stuff across the country for new beginnings. By combining our knowledge of the industry, longevity and customer service we can offer our customers a product that is hard to beat.
HOSTSEARCH: Where do you see web hosting going in 5-10 years and where will AIT be?
RICHARD KIRBY: Web hosting is a commodity, as is domain registration. Consumers are looking for web hosting and can probably get it most anywhere now days. The web hosting companies that survive in the next 5 to 10 years will be ones that can provide the added value. What applications can the company provide the consumer? Does the consumer or reseller have the tools they need to succeed, whatever they may be? The companies that will be around then will be ones that can answer questions like that and I know AIT will be around because we’re able to answer those questions on a daily basis for our customers.
HOSTSEARCH: What are your advices for HostSearch users who are looking for Reseller hosting service?
RICHARD KIRBY: They should give us a call and host with us of course! On a serious note, the best thing for customers to do is to do research and talk to several different companies before making a decision of who to go with. By comparing other companies, AIT comes out to be one of the front runners the vast majority of the time. As most researchers will learn, in the 2004 through 2007 timeframe, there was some bad press about us. This came from a selection of hardware that failed horribly for years until we moved to a new platform. Since this new platform move in 2007, we’ve seen our retention rate, and customer satisfaction rating return to the pre-2003 days, which is important to us. We’ve moved forward with partners like EMC, VMware, and IBM to provide robust solutions in web hosting.
HOSTSEARCH: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us today. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our visitors about your company?
RICHARD KIRBY: I would just like to reiterate the longevity of our company. It just goes to show how robust and flexible we are and how easily we can change to stay ahead of the game. A lot of other companies can’t do this for one reason or the other and their customers run this risk of being left behind. At AIT we breed the “get it done” attitude that it takes to stay ahead and that mentality trickles down to our customers which allows all of use to remain industry leaders.