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Episode 52: Kenny Kinley and Edafio are showing their clients the Path to IT Sanity

Spread the Ozark love

Randy Wilburn 0:00

Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. I'm your host, Randy Wilburn. And I'm excited to be here with you today. I have another great guest. Well, I'll let you actually be the judge of that. But I think you'll like what you hear when this is all over. As you know, I am Northwest Arkansas focuses on the intersection of business culture, entrepreneurship and life here in the Ozarks. And today, we're going to actually focus on all four of those areas. I have Kenny Kinley, with me, who is the President of Edafio, which actually means pathway in Greek, but he Edafio is a technology firm that's based in Central Arkansas, but they have an office up here in Northwest Arkansas that they opened about four years ago. And so without further ado, Kenny Kinley How are you doing today?

Kenny Kinley 0:45

I'm doing great! Thanks for having me.

Randy Wilburn 0:46

Oh, absolutely. It's certainly as my pleasure. This is a beautiful for those of you who have been obviously the people that are listening to this, you can't see where we are, but we're on the 10th floor of the building here in downtown Rogers. I just noticed that they're about to build a Torchy's right down the street. I mean every time I look up something new is here. And you can see the Top Golf that's coming up. So it's an amazing place this area is really expanding. So Well listen, you know, I would love for you. I know you've got a busy schedule and you're constantly doing a lot. I'd love for you just to give us a quick intro into who you are. And we'll then talk a little bit about Edafio and about the fires that you put out and the problems that you solve for clients all over Arkansas. So but who is Kenny Kinley? I read your bio. I looked at your background. It's a wide and varied experience. And you're also CPA, right? Yes. Okay. That's right. So, so you know your numbers. So that's good. We'll talk to after the podcast because I can always use help with numbers. But in all seriousness, though, why don't you just give our audience just a little bit about who you are?

Kenny Kinley 1:44

You bet. Glad to do that. So thanks for having me. Glad to be here. So just a little bit about me. I am probably most importantly a man of faith and just try to live my life and follow the path God's laid out. I was fortunate to marry my high school sweetheart, April who is the love of my life. And we've got three great kids. Lauren is a junior down at Ouachita. And I've got an eighth grader named Ashland, who we call Ash and 12-year old son named Luke. So okay, been an Arkansan my whole life born and raised. And as you said, a CPA but been fortunate to kind of move into this technology space 25 years ago. So I've been in various forms of technology leadership at multiple companies and been at Edafio now here for eight years.

Randy Wilburn 2:25

Wow, that's awesome. I even noticed you do some venture capital stuff as well. So, I mean, you're a man of many talents.

Kenny Kinley 2:31

I don't sleep much.

Randy Wilburn 2:33

Well, that's good. Listen, you can Yes, you can sleep when you're dead.

Kenny Kinley 2:36

That's right, exactly right.

Randy Wilburn 2:38

No, no, in all seriousness, though, I, as I had a chance to look at some of the things that a doppio is doing. I mean, you guys are making the idea behind, you know, serving clients that have needs that, you know, honestly are quite critical. quite important. You guys have been able to really help your clients rest easier, you know, we don't think about it. I mean, I don't think about it when I deal with a with a doctor, for instance, or an eye clinic that they know they're holding all of my information, all of my most important data that I would never want to get out. And the only way that that's ensured is by firms like Edafio, that they are able to come in and provide the type of knowledge and guidance that will help a company assure that they are following certain guidelines. I mean, there's so many moving parts here. You don't think of it it's not just Oh, you're not selling a widget, right? I mean, you're selling really a result. And I would just be curious to know if you could just kind of give our audience a view of what First of all, why did you guys come up to Northwest Arkansas?

Kenny Kinley 3:43

So we came up here with an office four years ago, and it was one of those. We wanted to come up here for a long time. We've got several clients that had offices up here, or you know, satellite offices here. And, we made the decision four years ago just to go all in invest in an office invest in engineering to Sales Team. So it was a conscious decision from our board to say, Okay, this is a growing area, you know, we know there's a lot going on. And so we made that that jump four years ago, and it's worked out really well.

Randy Wilburn 4:11

Yeah. Now, when you originally made the jump, was it your thought that it would allow you to maybe expand or broaden your service offerings to different verticals, different industries, because you guys have worked and spent a lot of time in the healthcare field. And that's a very important area, right? Nobody wants, like I said earlier, nobody wants their medical records just out in the open. But it seems like a lot of retail companies, a lot of other companies kind of need help. Absolutely when it comes to managing and maintaining their records in their computer programs and processes. And so I would just be curious to know what your thoughts were as far as that was concerned?

Kenny Kinley 4:47

Absolutely. Clearly, as you said, a big part of our businesses health care and will continue to be and if you look at our 25 clients in Northwest Arkansas, a large percentage of those are healthcare as well. But you're right, we saw the opportunity to, you know, leverage the vendor community. I know everybody's got IT problems, right. And so we saw that opportunity. The other big thing we saw up here was talent. I mean, just to be able to grow our company through hiring engineering, talent and other roles. And so that was another big draw for us to be up here. Full time. Okay,

Randy Wilburn 5:15

So just to kind of get an idea of the services that you're offering. I mean, you guys are basically, it's, I always want to kind of have people understand what you do. Because when people say I'm in IT, that's like an amorphous blob. It's like, what does that really mean? I'm in IT. So why don't you kind of articulate just the breadth of services that you offer? So people have a better understanding of that.

Kenny Kinley 5:37

When you say you're in IT, or IT services, you can just see people kind of glaze over, right? Because that could mean 100 thing. So, you know, at our core, We exist to help our clients run and protect their business. Right. So we are technology enablers. So we're not trying to sell certain hardware, different things like that. We just want to do whatever we can do to help our clients run their business and protect their business. Okay, so for 20 years, the run part of our business has been the predominant thing, right? We keep their systems up, keep them updated, you know, help them just make sure they're being able to focus on their business and not technology, right? This whole protect part has really come around a lot more in the last three or four years with all the cyber security concerns. And so we expanded from helping our clients run their business to run and protect, right, because that's such a key part. So we have several different components of that we do what we, you know, just help clients keep their businesses running. But we also have a cyber security practice. We have a cloud practice with the clients interested in moving to the cloud, we have a variety of options there. We have a healthcare consulting arm, as well for our healthcare clients who want to, you know, maximize benefits from the insurance companies and things like that. So one of the things we think we're different is we've got a broader offering, right, and some of the more traditional managed service companies. So you know, we offer five or six different components that we think can help clients run and protect their business instead of just one or two.

Randy Wilburn 6:58

Yeah, and it sounds like as I was looking There's some of the client testimonials and some of the interactions that your clients have had, it almost feels like that you guys are part of their organization that it's like, there's an enmeshment that takes place where you are physically in the office with them. So it's not like they're calling up to some call center in South Dakota, the call center that they're calling up might be right down the street, or it might be somewhere within the state where people can relate to the issues and challenges that you're going through. Oh, a tornado hit Rogers, yes, we're aware of that we are aware of these problems. And we're able to address those needs at a local level, which sometimes with some of these larger firms that do some of the same work that you do. They're not capable of actually being able to do that.

Kenny Kinley 7:42

That's right. Our kind of mission statement is we want to be the trusted advisor of technology solutions. So as you said, we want to be an extension of the team. So a lot of our clients, our staff have have email addresses for that client, right and we're part of their team. So we are very much an onsite kind of a client intimate model. So, as you said, a lot of the IT companies are very reactive, they've got a help desk, they'll, you know, call us when you need us, our models different, we want to provide proactive service, we want to be in the office with them. So when they're planning to open that next location, or you know, they're going to hire 50 people this year, let's do a plan for what your infrastructure needs to look like for that. So we want to really be a part of their business, not just their IT provider.

Randy Wilburn 8:22

Yeah. You know, and I'm just curious, as I'm sitting here listening to you talk about that. And I think about the importance that we put on our data being protected. How would you what percentage would you say firms are adequately protected? On the IT side on the side that you operate on? How much upside is there in terms of going out and serving, you know, industries in companies that maybe are less protected than say like the healthcare like the healthcare is obvious one right here, it's got a doctor's office, you need to have systems in place to make sure that things there's HIPAA compliance, there's all kinds of issues that come up that you need to make sure that your Protecting your clients records and data. But there are other industries that are may be a little bit more lacks, as far as that's concerned, what are you seeing in terms of the changing tide of that?

Kenny Kinley 9:10

It's really consistent across all industries. So even in, in healthcare, the financial institutions where you would assume they're way ahead of the curve, because of the cyber risks are so diverse now. And you know, it's not just, you know, somebody trying to hack into your firewall from another country, it's individual attacks, right? They're trying to get in. So even these, you know, very highly regulated institutions, they're under a higher degree of attack. So we really see it across the board as the need to have additional training programs and additional safety procedures, you know, that everybody needs it. And so it was interesting is now with a scale, maybe even your small businesses with 20 or 30 people, they're under attack daily. Just like your big hospital systems or banks or those things so we see it really across the board as a big risk and clients are typically understanding your cybersecurity from They may be keeping their systems up and running. But on the protection side of that, it's it's dramatic.

Randy Wilburn 10:05

Yeah, even some small I mean, a lot of small businesses don't understand what PCI compliance is. I'd love for you just to kind of give your quick, you know, snippet of PCI compliance and why it's important in the first place.

Kenny Kinley 10:17

Absolutely. So any of these institutions, and like you said, even small businesses that are taking credit card transactions, right, have to follow certain policies and procedures. And so that's, as you said, it's something that's just not followed. And it doesn't have to be really hard. I think sometimes people hear PCI and think that's really a scary thing. There are just some basic fundamental things with policies and procedures and just some basic security measures you can take to be okay. And so, I think people think HIPAA and PCI, and all these big things are only for the Fortune Hundred companies. And they're not I mean, even the smaller companies need those. And we know we we'd like to think we can help provide those on a reasonable cost scale.

Randy Wilburn 10:56

Right. And yeah, because I mean, when you think about it, you I'm sure and I know I do, I put my credit card out multiple times a day I'm swiping everywhere I go, a lot of people are slowly moving to that cashless society. So as we do that, there's going to be an even greater need for companies to make sure that they are doing things the right way to keep that information safe,

Kenny Kinley 11:16

Especially on the networking side, I think that's one of the areas when we are typical engagement model with a client, if if a new prospect calls or they're interested, we always start with some kind of an assessment right around their pain points. So if they want to, if they're interested in the cloud, we'll do a cloud readiness assessment. If they're adding locations, there's probably some networking assessment. And so, what we see coming in on the front end of those is, you know, we can provide some of that guidance on the front end to say, Okay, here's some of the things we see through an assessment or cyber security assessment, for example, and we can come back with a nice report at the end say, Okay, here's some areas of concern. Here's some things and we'll prioritize those. I mean, you can't, can't fix everything right once but if there are things like PCI or HIPAA, or you know, systems are open that shouldn't be will usually will prioritize those at the top and usually help them fix them.

Randy Wilburn 12:01

Right. And just so people understand, I mean, you guys are not Geek Squad or the Genius Bar at Apple. Because I mean that's more on the software side of things. Whereas you guys work more on the infrastructure. I think it's important for not just this audience, but anyone understand that the problems that you solve are on the bigger side of things, because I mean, again, if any company can't have, sufficient uptime, a runtime with all of their systems, you've got a problem. And that's where you guys can come in and help individuals out and make sure that things are operating properly, whether on the cloud, or if it's a server that you stood up in our operating it properly. You're giving your clients and anyone that is using your services, the ability to have a certain amount of peace of mind that, you know, if we try to do things on our own, it's sometimes difficult to do.

Kenny Kinley 12:49

That's right. Yeah, I describe what we do to technical people, I say, you know, we do everything in IT, except application development. That's just an area that there's a lot of companies that do that really well and so we just decided our job are to keep the systems up and running so that the application developers can do their job. Yeah. Right. So we were kind of the behind the scenes trying to keep those things up and running. Okay.

Randy Wilburn 13:09

So you've been here for years now? What is your take on Northwest Arkansas again, you are an Arkansan. And I tell people all the time, anybody that listens to this podcast knows that I've only been here five years. I'm blown away by this area. To me, Northwest Arkansas is one of the best kept secrets in the country. It's one of the reasons why we're growing. And this is more of a recruiting pitch for anybody that wants to come here and work for Edafio that this is a great place to land. Would you agree?

Kenny Kinley 13:34

Absolutely. When I leave here, I've come up almost just about every week, I'm here. And I get in the car to drive back to Conway, I call my wife and there's two things I always say, number one, man, we should be doing more business up here. Because always think we should be doing more business. And the second thing is we may want to move up here when our kids are out of school. So yeah, we love it up here. I think the folks we have up here a lot of them are born and raised here. And what's interesting is even our we've got over 100 people Our company, and we've got people up here all the time, right? They want to come up here. Yeah, and spend the weekend and just be around. So it really is an amazing place. And we hosted, we're a part of a peer group, where 10 different companies from around the country come in and meet once a quarter, right? It's kind of like it's kind of a support group, right, where you talk about what's going on with Cyber or the Office 365 or whatever. So we actually hosted the group here in October, okay. And so we had Everybody stay at 21C (Museum Hotel), we hosted the actual meetings at Crystal Bridges. And so these are people from DC, San Francisco, Minneapolis, I mean big towns right Boston, and they were blown away by this place. I mean, where they were just went on and on about the trip and how much we took them around to the square and we did the Crystal Bridges tour. And I mean, we just did all these different activities while they were here. And I mean, we had a call last week just to kind of do a check in and they were still going on and on about how amazing and the guy from San Francisco was the most interesting because he came two days early and looked around and He told me when he was leaving that he's going to bring his wife back here. And they've got to spend at least a week here. So, you know, when you hear that from these large cities, you just realize how amazing this place is.

Randy Wilburn 15:09

Absolutely. And I think it helps, it helps on multiple levels. I was kind of being funny about recruiting, but actually, that helps. People need to understand that I think this regional area was rated number 18, in terms of income, growth in the average income in this area, and I saw it on a survey and I posted about it about a week and a half ago, but a lot of good things are happening here. So and even as I'm looking at I'm just I'm remarking on all the new buildings we just talked about a second ago and everywhere I look, I mean, it's not really strip malls, but there's just there's just outcroppings of growth. And you can kind of see, you know, there's pockets of farmland, there are new subdivisions, and there's just new growth everywhere here in Northwest Arkansas

Kenny Kinley 15:51

It really is. I think the recruiting part is something that as I said earlier, we knew that was going to be a part of coming up here, but we probably underestimated it four years ago. I mean, we've been able to get some really talented people in this office? And, we see this as being an office where we grow not just for Northwest Arkansas clients, but to support our clients everywhere. Yeah, right. I mean, we aspire to be a regional player, right. So we're going to have offices in Oklahoma, Tulsa, and, you know, all these different or Oklahoma and Tennessee and all these different areas, but we really see Northwest Arkansas as a hub to support all those locations partnering with the U of A for internship programs, NWACC right up the street has got opportunities there. And then also just the professional hires from some of these bigger companies that may want to come work for smaller companies and and even when we do recruiting with folks around in other states, you know, we'll talk to them about one to move here and when we give them the opportunity to move to Northwest Arkansas after just a little bit of research, that's that's probably a little easier sell sometimes than Central Arkansas.

Randy Wilburn 16:49

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I'm glad you brought that up about recruiting people and just, you know, maybe encouraging some people that are at larger organizations to come work at yours. I mean, you guys have a track Record now you've been around for 20 years. That's a long time. And this company was started with just about five people. And I mean, you're just every day there's something new. But what in, you know, where do you see things going in the next two to three years? Because we know technology is changing, and it's at a rapid pace, you're going to need more experts. Yeah. You know, in certain areas, or fields that you represent within this space. Where do you see things going? In the next few years?

Kenny Kinley 16:49

Absolutely. From an associate perspective, probably one of the biggest changes in our company is the need to have more specialized skills. Right. So in the early days, you'd have an engineer who they knew a little bit about systems, a little about networking, a little bit about cloud, and they could get by right well, now as these things are more complicated as cyber is a whole different thing. Right? So we actually have a cyber security team now, right? That's got eight people. And that's what they do. We've got a cloud team that has now five people and so what I see us doing is being more specialized, so we will hire cloud experts, right people who've done the Microsoft Azure migrations and the Office 365 and training. And so we'll have people come in and they'll be specific experts in areas cybersecurity people who want to come in and just focus on that. So as opposed to kind of hireing more generalists as what we did probably for the first 18 years, we're seeing now that technology is so complex, you can't stay on top of all of it, right. And so when we go visit with prospects, and they may have an IT person, or they may have a couple people, or what we tell them is, it's impossible to stay on top of it, you need a partner to be able to come in, so then we have those experts that can come in on those specific areas. We think that provides a lot more value.

Randy Wilburn 18:38

Okay. I love that it makes perfect sense. You are going to be President and CEO as of the first of the year guess which starts off a new decade actually. So that's kind of cool. Do you What are you hoping to accomplish in this role? And it will there be much change between what you're currently doing and what you'll be doing as the CEO as well?

Kenny Kinley 18:59

From a company perspective, the best thing about Edafio Technology Partners is our culture, right? We've got core values that we live out every day, our three core values are in unquestionable integrity, committed to our client success, and one team with humility and respect. And that absolutely will not change. Right. That's who we've been for 20 years. And that's who will continue to be so I think probably the biggest change will just be more focused on growth. Right, and and how we can expand and because people need the services that we provide, right, and so as we think about more in Northwest Arkansas, can you to invest here we've got a 12 people here now, you know, we plan to double that in the next 12 to 18 months, looking at other locations, as I mentioned in Oklahoma and Tennessee. So I think we we've kind of we've had a great first 20 years, right, we have over 100 people now and I think we see that to continue and just continue to grow.

Randy Wilburn 19:53

Yeah, I'm just curious, what is your take on the overall economy, we're all waiting for that other shoe to drop, right? Nobody wants To talk about it, but I always like talking about it within the context of every of the industries that we talked to, because I think that "R" word that a lot of people are alluding to which you know, we're in the biggest bull market that we've ever seen for years. And so something will happen, whether it happens in at a grand scale or whether it's a minor hiccup, how do you plan for that? And more importantly, how should firms that are looking down the line about what they need to do but are we're kind of concerned about spending money on something that they can't always see, right? Because it's not like you're bringing stuff into their office, they can't see what you're doing? How do you encourage those firms to keep their eye on the prize in terms of what they need to do, and not so much worry about? You know, a lot of the global factors that are affecting them because business still happens every day, even in a recession. That's right. So what are you what are you doing to encourage and, you know, educate people about that.

Kenny Kinley 21:00

I think that's what makes our engagement model so unique is we want to be at the table with that business owner or that CEO, or CFO and help plan for those things, right? And so work on a three year roadmap to figure out how to maybe get an extra year out of that equipment, right? Or maybe these systems make sense to migrate to the cloud, because you don't have to go make that large capital expenditure. So you know, the thing about what we do is it's, everything's affected right by the economy and a recession. But, you know, clients still need to run and protect their business. And so, you know, we don't want to be that transactional company that just says, Hey, call us when you need us, or, hey, that's broken. Sorry. Now we need to fix it. We want to be there at the table to say let us help you plan for this. Yeah. And then so when things happen, and that's the other part that's around the protect side, it's not a matter of if some kind of Cyber events going to happen to a business. We're way past that, right. It's when Yeah, right. And so what do you do when there's an event? And so that's all the more important in a recession because if things are a little tighter for the business, and they have some kind of security event. How are they going to handle that? Right? Do they need cyber insurance? And, you know, what is the incident response plan? Right? What are we going to do? So we've got clients now, and this never happened two years ago. We have clients now who are coming to us saying, Okay, what kind of cyber insurance do I need? Right? Let's do a tabletop exercise, say, Okay, if we have some kind of incident, what are we going to do? Right? How do we segment our network? And that's a little technical, but it's really important. How do we segment our network so that if we have an event on over here at this office, it doesn't affect the rest of the office? So those are conversations that you need to be having? Regardless of what the economy's doing?

Randy Wilburn 22:37

Well, that certainly is job security for you guys, because that keeps you keeps you going. And you know, as I'm sitting here, there's just so many different ideas. You know, I was watching an episode of wasn't American greed, but it was something else on CNBC but they were talking about the dark web and about the impact that you know, a lot of nefarious individuals have had through the dark web in terms of how they are just slowly chipping away at our identities at a lot of information that we know or is valuable to us is personal to us. But there's so many bad agents out there at trying to access that. And that's just a another reason why what you do is so important. Absolutely. Because if you can't, if you don't have a front line to combat that type of continuous bad actor, it really impacts how you serve your client.

Kenny Kinley 23:25

Absolutely. And that cyber security team as we started that a couple years ago, it was very focused on you know, more the operational side, right, making sure everything's updated and putting in all these monitoring tools and things and now it's evolved and more it is what we call a CISO Chief Information Security Officer. So we have one, right we have a guy that that's his job is to protect Edafio right to protect our company. Well a lot of clients can't afford or don't know that I need a full time chief information security officer right. Of course the big companies have that but a lot of our clients don't have it. So we have a virtual offering where You know, we can come in and consult for four hours a week or eight hours a month to help them just think about those things, right. And so there's always different scanning tools and training and all the things you can do. But we really want to be at the table to have those discussions, and then we'll go find the right tool and bring it to the table.

Randy Wilburn 24:16

I love that. And actually, I had never heard of a CISO but that's actually To me, it's it's very valuable for people to be aware of that. Because just you know, sometimes you don't have to hire someone full time on your staff to produce a result. I mean, you can there are many capable consultants out there, and obviously you guys are one of them that can certainly do that. And in an area where you really shouldn't cut corners, even though we know people do. This is certainly a way for you to ensure that you at least have some protection.

Kenny Kinley 24:48

And we've done the virtual CIO or Chief Information Officer or Virtual IT Director, you know, we've done that for years for clients last eight years. So clients that either you know, wanted to use us wanted to use a portion of a person or just said, Hey, we need we know it's full time, but we know you guys train IT staff and harm you guys just provide that. We've done that for years. But this information security officer piece that's become a lot more prevalent in the last couple years just because of all the cyber security concerns.

Randy Wilburn 25:15

Okay. Well, that's good. Yeah, I was. I was listening to some of the other testimonials. One of the quotes that we heard, and I love this quote is that Edafio is the guy you never see, but does everything. That's a great quote. I mean, that that really is you probably know who that that particular client is. But I just thought that really stood out more than anything else. And again, it's one of those issues where a lot of people because we can't really put our arms around it. It's not something that you can physically see that it has a manifestation. It's like, Oh, my God, I understand this. It's difficult. So your job is there's a challenge there. And clearly, with your current clients, you're able to, you know, assuage fears, you know, allay concerns and keep people moving forward and keeping themselves focused. is I mean, it's it's gotta be I mean, there's a lot of work there

Kenny Kinley 26:03

It is. I've been doing this job eight years, and I've never had a CEO or a doctor or office manager call me and say, Hey, Kenny, I just want to let you know everything's working great today. Never happened. I people just assume it's going to work. Yeah. And so that's our job is to keep everything behind the scenes. Now, I do get calls when they're not working, of course, right. But so our job is to keep those things up and running. And and our clients don't need to worry about the why and the how, you know, we need to come back in on at least a monthly basis and say, here's what we did. You know, we patch these 15 servers, we updated these workstations. Hey, you know, we noticed that we needed to make an adjustment on the firewall rule. I mean, we take care of all those technical things, so that they can run their business.

Randy Wilburn 26:47

Yeah. So that that's our goal. Now, do you guys on your website have like a special assessment tool that you allow people to go through that maybe answers a couple of questions to determine if they really need your services now or what they might need? Or is that more Somebody would call Edafio. And then someone would kind of ask them some questions. You know, over the phone?

Kenny Kinley 27:06

Today is pretty generic. I think our new marketing director has a plan.

Randy Wilburn 27:10

I actually know her and she's pretty smart. Yeah,

Kenny Kinley 27:12

I think she's got a plan for something just like that. That's probably coming early next year. But today, what will happen is the cloud have a question or some kind of a pain point, right? It's a it's a new location. It's a Tell me more about the cloud. It's, you know, hey, I've got some concerns. I saw about this security breach for this hospital down in Texas that shut their hospital down for two days. What should I do about that? Right, and so and then whatever that pain point is, we'll come in and do an assessment in that area, right. And then we'll also do a more general it assessment as well, just because sometimes they may need things they don't know. And so we'll do a specific assessment for that area of concern, but then also just kind of a general. So today, that's kind of as needed as they call, but I think our plan is to have something a little more interactive next year.

Randy Wilburn 27:55

Okay, well, good. Well, there you go. Well, I love that. I mean, we're certainly and when I Say we I'm speaking for all of Northwest Arkansas, we are glad that you guys are here and that you are making a difference for the clients that you're working with now, and even those new clients that you will have in the near future, I think, again, your job is extremely important, even if no one really wants to see you, right? Because it's like, if they see you, then there's a problem. So but I mean, it's important for people to be proactive. And I think you guys are playing a major role to do that. And so, you know, again, we certainly appreciate having Edafio here in Northwest Arkansas, and we look forward to seeing what you guys are able to do in the near future. I do want to ask you one last thing, and I had a chance to watch a video online. Some of these videos I'm going to put in the show notes with some of the college students from UCA. And they talked about their experiences. And so one of the benefits I think, and we'll kind of close out with this is that because you are a smaller organization, people get a chance to really cut their teeth on a wide variety of client types and projects and Even though they can specialize, they get a chance to really interact directly as opposed to just being a cog in the wheel. Can you just just speak to the importance of that, from your perspective?

Kenny Kinley 29:10

Absolutely. One of the most exciting things we do here is our intern program. And it is at any given time, we'll have 10 to 12 interns. And so we've had a couple up here, we want to do more of that as this office grows. But so that's 10%, right of our company. And so that's for us, it's a great recruiting ground, but it also just teaches these kids you know, different aspects of the job so they could come in and spend some time in cybersecurity if that's their interest, and networking work on our help desk, our network operations center. So we do think because we're smaller, we can give them a more well rounded experience from and we put up to work. And you know, we want kids who are college students who can, you know, interact with clients and the way we don't just keep them in the back room. We put them out there and we had a young man that's actually a student at the University of Arkansas. He lives in Central Arkansas, but he did an internship with us this summer, and he was phenomenal. I mean, he was helping run Cyber programs, he participate in some of the client meetings. So the other thing that I think's fun to watch with college students is their technical acumen is so much higher than most adults. And so these these college kids can come in and they can make an impact really quickly. And so we want to expand that at the U of A we've got Northwest Arkansas Community College is down the street here, and we think that's a big part of our growth will always recruit professional talent. But I think being able to partner with these colleges and bring them in and and even if they don't come work with us after school, they've got a good education. I mean, they've we've been able to see it in action, right. We had a young man who interned with us in Central Arkansas five years ago, and he took a job with AT&Tout of college and we were devastated because we really wanted to hire this guy, but it was a great experience. He did a good job. We left on great terms. I'm interviewing him tomorrow. Also he's been at AT&T for five years. We made such a good impression on him as an intern. He's ready to do something different now. And we're the first people he called. So even for the ones in a we we do hire most of our interns, right, say that I run a high degree we hire, but even in situations like that, where they want to go work at a bigger company, they'll come back sometimes or they could be future clients for us.

Randy Wilburn 31:17

Well, yeah, that and the fact that you prepared him before he stepped out and started working at AT&T. And I firmly believe that the more that you operate with an open hand, the more that that will be returned to you and clearly from the way that you treated him and the way that you work with your interns. That open hand approach as a corporate entity is going to benefit you and serve you well in the future. And, you know, speaking of open hand approach, I noticed that you guys are highly involved in a lot of nonprofit activities. So you guys walk the walk and talk the talk. As far as that's concerned.

Kenny Kinley 31:49

We do we try to be really active. A lot of our clients have foundations and different arms that we try to be active in and participate in those very active in the chamber events and in the community. And We think that's really important just to be out there and our associates appreciated, right? They they want to participate in these events and be out there with their families and doing the meal pack programs and all that kind of stuff. So we find that it's a really it's a good way to give back and and also support some of our clients and their in their foundations as well. Absolutely, absolutely.

Randy Wilburn 32:19

Well, man that's great Kenny. I really appreciate you taking time out to sit down with me and and share. This is like one of the best views that I've had for any podcasts that I've recorded. I record a lot of episodes at the Fayetteville Public Library, which I love, but this view is... this view reminds me of what's so great about Northwest Arkansas

Kenny Kinley 32:39

Come back anytime you can use the spot anytime.

The best way is our is our website

Randy Wilburn 32:40

Absolutely. Well, I appreciate that. Well folks, there you have it. Kenny Kinley, President and soon to be CEO of Edafio and that happens in 2020. Just excited to have these guys on the podcast. They are doing some great things when it comes to IT here in Northwest Arkansas but also in Central Arkansas in the rest of the state really want to encourage you to check them out. Before I let you go, Kenny, if anybody wants to reach you, what's the best way for them to contact you?

Right. Okay, perfect. Well, I'll put all that in there. I'll even put a link to your LinkedIn profile so people can check out how cool you are, and see all the amazing things that you're doing. And certainly, we'll put some additional information in our show notes for this particular episode. So you can learn more about Edafio. And listen, folks, if you're a business owner up here and you reach out to these guys, let them know that you heard about it here on the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. We love to get shout outs from time to time but we were starting to hear from people that have been on the podcast and then they hear from someone that heard the podcast and said man I you know can you help me with 'X"? Can you help me with "Y?" Why so if anybody's listening to this and you're it situation is in disarray, you need to give Kenny and his team call because they can definitely help you out. And I'm not gonna I'm not gonna sit here and be a shill for them, but the bottom line is that, you know, we certainly have to help each other out. And that's what people do in Northwest Arkansas. And that's one of the reasons why I love this area. So that's all I have for you guys today. Thank you so much for listening to another episode of I am Northwest Arkansas. Remember, our focus is the intersection of business culture, entrepreneurship and life here in the Ozarks. Each day, we're trying to get better 1% better is all you need to do that's 37% in the year, there's not much more that's required beyond that if you do that the world will be a better place. So thank you guys so much, and we'll see you next week. Bye for now.

About the Show:

We recently had a chance to sit down with Kenny Kinley, President, and CEO of Edafio Technology Partners.  Edafio, a Greek word meaning ‘passage” or “pathway,” was founded in 2001.

Edafio is a full-service IT Solution company that has a strong presence in Central Arkansas but moved up to Northwest Arkansas a few years back to take advantage of the growth in healthcare clients, their specialty,  and the growing workforce in this area.

Kenny has been in the IT sector for a quarter-century and now that he’s assumed the CEO role of Edafio he is looking to expand and grow and wants to use the fertile business landscape of Northwest Arkansas to do so.  

Listen to this podcast and read the transcript to learn more about Kenny and his plans for Edafio moving forward. 

If this podcast episode resonates with you please let us know by commenting below or by dropping us an email. We appreciate each and every listener of this podcast. 

 All of this and more on this episode of I am Northwest Arkansas.   

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