The story of RasTech IT as told by its founder, Brian C. Rasmussen.
From a young age I demonstrated a heart to help others by solving problems. As personal computers became available in the early 1980s, I was drawn to the possibilities they offered. I was able to intuitively understand the school’s brand new Commodore PETs and soon thereafter, my own Commodore 64.
As computers came into the schools, teachers began creating quizzes on them rather than using typewriters and mimeographs. Throughout my high school years I frequently received notices during class from another teacher urgently requiring assistance printing a quiz needed for their next class. I was the de facto “IT guy” for my high school long before such a position was formally created.
After high school and during my summers off from college, I was employed at a defense aerospace contractor. My ability to creatively apply technological solutions to everyday tasks thus dramatically improving productivity was recognized within my first two weeks. They brought me back every summer, even during the defense drawdowns of the early 1990s when no other interns were allowed because of cutbacks. Though I was offered a job upon graduation, I declined the position in order to pursue my desire to be an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
In the Air Force, my first assignment was as an electrical engineer on our Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. I was part of an elite team of people who troubleshot problems that the regular technicians or operators could not solve. This environment of working as part of a team to solve urgent, high-visibility problems with nuclear weapons provided me with foundational abilities.
As part of joining the Air Force unit, I was given an email address and network account. The network administration shop learned that I knew quite a bit about computers. At the end of my first week, I was called into the top commander’s office to solve a computer problem. I solved it quickly and was thereafter branded the highest-ranking tech-savvy person in the unit.
Within time, my responsibilities grew to include leading the nine-person network administration team responsible for over 700 computers with 1500 users around the clock.
In 1997, I also had the dubious honor of heading up the newly created Y2K compliance team. My commander knew that as stewards of nuclear weapons, Y2K compliance was critically important, and that our program would be under the closest scrutiny by the highest levels of our government. Through this time I learned much about continuity of operations in the event of technology or electrical failure. While Y2K ended up being a non-event, there are many uses for this type of business planning to include acts of nature or terrorism. Sadly, most American small businesses and organizations are used to nothing going wrong and never prepare for outages in advance.
In the summer of 2000 I transitioned to civilian life taking a position working in a group of family-owned businesses. I built corporate networks for five geographically separated businesses. By 2001 I was also asked to be the COO of one, a data entry and processing business. We migrated from the reel-to-reel tape mainframe with connected computer terminals, to a Microsoft Active Directory-based network.
The companies outgrew existing facilities and moved into new facilities. This provided valuable experience in coordinating with vendors to build out new locations and managing the logistics of moving companies while maintaining operations.
As the point-person for all technological special projects, I was responsible for obtaining the physical security systems, RFID proximity card access control systems and the phone systems. Long before BYOD was conceived as an acronym, I was living the realities of individuals utilizing their own technology in the businesses.
Throughout my time at the companies, I also helped other organizations and individuals. Active in my church, I helped running sound and video for weekend services. As the church grew, it bought new property and built a new facility. I served on the tech team to spec and design the technologies installed in the new building. During construction, I served as the technical foreman working hand-in-hand with the builder’s foreman as the construction company was used to building traditional churches, not ones with server rooms or a broadcast video production room.
I never intended to start my own consulting company, but in 2008 my employer’s companies suffered from the economic downturn and it was no longer feasible for them to sustain my employment.
With years of experience helping others solve technology-related problems, I was encouraged to start RasTech IT Services.
Friends and family provided referrals to others who needed IT support. I began helping small businesses that had core competencies in their fields, but lacked someone internally to make the technology “just work”. Too big to run without technology, but too small to afford hiring a full-time IT network administrator able to handle all of the technological changes and needs, I serve a market of small businesses and organizations that contract services from someone they trust to be capable, responsible and honest.
Since 2008, RasTech IT has continued to grow. Clients asked me to help them solve increasingly wider arrays of challenges. I have subcontracted to companies to provide network design and administration for municipal and corporate surveillance systems. This expanded into city-wide wireless deployments to transport the video data. Soon I was helping install and configure wireless point-to-point links, both licensed and unlicensed.
As the wireless technologies continued to evolve and mature, I was trained on and deployed wireless networks from various manufacturers. As BYOD has taken schools by storm, I see where the standard answer is to place an access point in every classroom. By not understanding the underlying wireless principles, it is unfortunate that many of these schools are now suffering from having “five bars” of wireless, but abysmal performance. High-density wireless computing needs to be engineered quite differently than the home wireless access point.
Another niche market into which I have found myself is broadcast video streaming. With a working knowledge of broadcast video and audio, combined with a greater understanding of computer networks and media encoding built into IP surveillance cameras, I was referred to a company that provides streaming services to large corporate clients. We deploy networks for corporate training events at large venues. Live video is encoded, distributed throughout the facility over a computer network, then decoded and projected in a multitude of rooms simultaneously. As with all live production events, the ability to perform with technical excellence and think very quickly to resolve any issues that may appear is essential.
RasTech IT continues to expand. We expanded our network of technically skilled friends who share the same values of cheerfully serving with technical excellence, honesty and integrity. We work to learn each day how to better serve our clients so they can focus on their core tasks and trust RasTech to keep the technology working for them and not against them.