Founded in 1994, the Bulfinch Group helps ensure that individuals, families and businesses reach their maximum wealth potential. The company provides a comprehensive range of finance-oriented services including insurance, investments and financial planning.
Originally based in Boston on historic Milk Street, the growth of the business led founder and President Seth Medalie to move his company to suburban Needham, Mass. in 2004. By October 2013, having grown to 90 associates and 150 employees, the company planned to leave the 15,000 square-foot Needham facility for a 25,000 square-foot space across town.
The move presented Donald Gilmore, the Bulfinch Group’s VP of Operations, with an opportunity to upgrade all of the company’s technology, including a new phone system. “We were relocating for more space, and our lease was up,” he explains. “And because of that relocation – the fact that we had to move equipment and so forth – we looked at everything. Upgrading IT, our network equipment, our phone system. So the move motivated a lot of opportunities to bring things current.”
The Bulfinch Group had a strong relationship with Harbor Networks dating back 20 years. In fact, Harbor sold Bulfinch its first office phones back in 1994. “We initially came across Harbor when they sold us an office phone system back when our company was first founded,” says Gilmore. “That was back before my time.”
“So I went out and did a due-diligence search that really was independent of our existing relationship with Harbor Networks. And I looked at everything. I looked at cloud systems, owned systems, all the different companies that are out there. I interviewed them all. I looked at different phone systems, different technologies and pricing. And ultimately I came full circle to the VoIP system from ShoreTel and Harbor.”
“I liked the idea of not going to a cloud-based system after I looked at both. Part of that was for security and stability in the system. The end result was to reinforce that we wanted the local PBX system with Harbor and were committed to the VoIP system for the foreseeable future.”
“We came back to Harbor for several reasons. Because of the relationship, the good record that we had with service, and the fact that the type of system that we chose was consistent with what Harbor was recommending. And the pricing was competitive.”
Gilmore explains that the outstanding service Harbor had provided over the years had an impact on his decision.
“Basically after doing all the due diligence and looking at all the systems that were out there, we gravitated back to the relationship with Harbor. With the direction we were going in, it just made sense to stay with them.”
“We certainly had no reason to leave Harbor. The service had been excellent in fact. I just wanted to make sure that when I was doing that due diligence search to make sure that we weren’t overlooking anything. And when it became apparent that the ShoreTel system was consistent with what we wanted to do, then it just made sense to stick with Harbor.”
Prior to the move across town, the Harbor Networks transition team mapped out a transition plan to the new ShoreTel platform.
“Harbor came in and did a couple of demonstrations for us,” recalls Gilmore. “It appeared to be an easy transition. The equipment operated similarly to our old system and was easy to use. The training and installation were done very well.“
“When we were in the midst of moving across town, they did an equipment training to different groups. They came in to scheduled events where people could see the equipment, get an idea of how to use it and so forth. It was a great approach, because when they started out live on the first day we were in the new space, the new phones weren’t completely foreign to them.”
Gilmore says the system was so easy to use that no training was required for his back-end team. “The transition was seamless. Harbor came in and did the installation, the setup and helped people starting to use the equipment. Literally in a matter of days, learning the phones was not an issue any longer.”
Gilmore says that the due diligence he conducted was helpful when it came time to selecting phone systems for Bulfinch’s satellite offices. “As a result of that research, for our decisions since then, I haven’t had to perform any additional due diligence,” he says. “I’ve just gone back to Harbor.”
“We opened a new startup location in West Warwick, R.I. in January 2014. So we needed a new phone system there. Again, we reverted to the decision that we made for the IP system in Needham. And now we’re relocating our Rockland, Mass. office to larger office space in the same building and I made the same decision.”
Based on the success of the Needham upgrade, Gilmore says it made sense to establish consistency among the three offices. Today there are 15 ShoreTel units in Rockland and three in West Warwick.
Harbor Service & Support
Gilmore had extensive experience working with Harbor’s service and support when Bulfinch was using the original phone system.
“That was one of the reasons that motivated us to make the change. The legacy system was 18 years old, so we were starting to have this handset go out, a base unit out. We had to replace this part or that part. So it started to become evident that the car was getting old and that it would be a lot more efficient to get a new one instead of always fixing the old one.”
“Since we came into the new ShoreTel system, the only service events that we’ve had have been refinements or clarifications. We haven’t had any systems problems. And of course the Harbor service is fine, as always.”
Gilmore says he has come to appreciate the individual attention he receives from Harbor. “One of the things I rely on in my role, when I work with the various companies, whether it’s a cleaning company or IT or phones, I like to work on a relationship basis. So if I have a telephone issue, I contact the service department. If we happen to run into a wall, I might go to the service manager.”
“But at the end of the day, I don’t get past a couple of calls into an issue before I call my Harbor rep and let him handle it for me. He understands if our service is good and I’m satisfied with the product, that the next time we have a purchase we’re going to go back to him.”
“As long as they keep up the service and stay competitive with the pricing, three years from now I’m not going to go out and shop. I’m going to go back to Harbor.”