When Chris Wilson realized the true scope of the technology gap within the Architectural, Engineering, Construction (AEC) industry, he wanted to make a difference. Leaning on his strong military background and construction IT experience, Chris and his two partners founded Rudick Innovation & Technology and began raising the bar on technology in the AEC industry.
Today, Chris’s growing business serves more than 1,200 users and takes a hard line when it comes to security. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Chris and learn more about what makes this Managed Service Provider (MSP) so successful.
ALISON: Can you tell us about Rudick Innovation & Technology?
CHRIS: Of course. In 2018 I partnered with two well respected construction industry partners to launch Rudick Innovation & Technology. Today we have 16 employees, and support more than 1,200 end users. Our niche includes architects, engineers, general contractors, and subcontractors and we provide Construction Job Site Technology, Strategic IT Planning, Business Transformation, Mobile Device Management, Proactive Managed IT Services, and of course, email security.
ALISON: So, Chris, as a kid, what did you want be when you grew up?
CHRIS: Honestly, I wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force.
ALISON: Then how did you come to find yourself in the MSP space?
CHRIS: Well, my interest in IT really began in high school. I was fortunate enough to do an internship for my high school – meaning I was a network intern for public education. That for me was kind of a game changer in terms of what I wanted to do in my life.
I guess nobody really knows what they want to do in high school, right? But I knew after doing that internship that technology was going to be my future. I didn't know if it was going to be networking, servers, programming, or something in between, but that experience helped me understand what well-structured Information Technology looked like.
From there I studied Network Design & Administration in Community College, which taught me the foundational IT concepts and gave me the fundamental skills I needed.
ALISON: That’s great. So, IT won out over the Armed Forces?
CHRIS: Well, not quite. After community college I enlisted in the United States Army. But instead of being a pilot, I decided to keep my feet on the ground. I joined the Army Signal Corps and worked my up to a Non-Commissioned Officer.
ALISON: And what was the big take-away there?
CHRIS: Well, the experience helped shape my leadership skills and exposed me to enterprise grade IT at scale, which was great. But what I think resonates with me even more today is the fact that I began to really understand how different personalities come together to form a high-performance team.
I did one tour in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Technology and communications in a war zone is about as critical as it gets because lives are at stake – but it showed me two things. First, how to be calm under pressure. Secondly, great technology and communications can be done anywhere and everywhere, at any scale.
ALISON: What an amazing way to gain skills. Thank you for your service. Where did you go from there?
CHRIS: In 2012, I returned to civilian life. I got into Construction IT when I joined an Engineering News Record (ENR) Top 100 General Contracting firm in North Texas. I stayed on for a shade under five years. During that time, I understood there is a huge gap in technology in Architectural, Engineering, Construction (AEC) compared to public education and the military. I wanted to make a difference.
ALISON: Is that what led you to start your own company?
CHRIS: Yes. In 2018, I founded RIT – Rudick Innovation & Technology – along with two respected construction industry partners. Our aim was simple – to raise the bar on technology in the AEC industry.
I am happy to say we’ve seen a lot of growth, have a great team in place, and have zeroed in on our offerings.
ALISON: Congratulations. Tell me more – especially about how you help your customers harden their security posture.
CHRIS: During the first year, when you’re trying to figure things out and also get new customers, it’s easy to find yourself saying yes to too many things. We found that people wanted to customize our services and in doing so, strip out all the security to reduce costs. All that does is drive more tickets – basically because you have bad security. That was a good learning experience and I'm not willing to compromise on the product that we're delivering because consistency is the key, another Army fundamental, if you don’t have a uniform approach, it’s not supportable.
So now we start with the fundamentals - making sure that customers have accurate SPF, DKIM, and DMARC, combined with Multi-Factor Authentication. We follow that up by aligning Microsoft Office 365 Defender with the suite of INKY products.
ALISON: So, what does INKY bring to the table?
CHRIS: I'm a firm believer that after proper security configuration, education through security awareness training is the next most important factor in email protection for employees. What INKY brings with dynamic email warning banners and the convenience of email reporting has been a game changer for us. Outbound Mail Protection also simplifies the deployment and management of data loss prevention. As an MSP one thing we really strive for is to create uniformity. With INKY, we're able to provide a predictable customer experience for email awareness and delivery.
ALISON: How has INKY been received by your customers?
CHRIS: Great. It's easy to use from their computers and their mobile phones. Employees read the banners. It helps.
ALISON. Glad to hear that. You really have a great story and I’m glad INKY is part of it.
Before we wrap up, I have one more question. If you could share some thoughts on INKY with your MSP peers, what would you tell them?
CHRIS: If you're using static warning banners today in your email, you might as well remove them. The banner fatigue is real, and your customers aren't paying attention. INKY will turn the tides in your favor when it comes to awareness by providing relevant information about each email.
ALISON: Chris, this has been fantastic. Thank you for your time. I know I speak for the whole INKY team when I say we’re proud you’re an INKY MSP Partner.
INKY is an award-winning, behavioral email security platform that blocks phishing threats, prevents data leaks, and coaches users to make smart decisions. Like a cybersecurity coach, INKY signals suspicious behaviors with interactive email banners that guide users to take safe action on any device or email client. IT teams don’t face the burden of filtering every email themselves or maintaining multiple systems. Through powerful technology and intuitive user engagement, INKY keeps phishers out for good. Learn why so many companies trust the security of their email to INKY. Request an online demonstration today.