In a lead-up to 2019's Michigan Celebrates Small Business Gala Celebration Jeffrey Mosher spoke with several winning companies from this cycle.
Here, he speaks with Mike Ritsema, President & Principal one of MI 50 Companies to Watch Honoree, i3 Business Solutions, Grand Rapids, MI.
To listen to Mike's full interview please click on the embedded SoundCloud PodCast below!
Ritsema started in the technology industry in 1990 as an IBM Business Partner and IBM employee in the mid-range server and Enterprise Resource Planning space. When he started at IBM he thought he missed the technology bus because the IBM PC Junior had just arrived. Along with investors, he acquired 21st Century Computer Specialists, Inc. in 2001 and merged with Silver Lake Resources in 2004 to create i3 Business Solutions. Today i3 Business Solutions delivers business road-maps and technology support to approximately 80 companies, 2,000 users, and 400 servers in West Michigan.
Ritsema is passionate about technology and its application personally and for business. He’s dedicated to helping organizations accelerate their productivity and profitability through the implementation of technology solutions.
He’s privileged to have served as both the Tri-unity Christian School and Unto, Inc. Board President where some of my most gratifying work has occurred. Ritsema is currently on the Board of the Grand Rapids Boys & Girls Club. He’s a runner, including local 5K-25K races, biker, golfer, “slow-motion” basketball player, reader, learner, and traveler. Essentially, he remains driven by anything that offers a new challenge.
i3 Business Solutions, LLC
i3 Business Solutions protects and improves technology for small to medium businesses with 10 to 250 employees. We can become the IT department or assist the IT department.
For over 25 years the team at i3 has continuously improved our checklist process excellence to accelerate business results.
Our focus and specialty include managed technology services, computer networking, IT consulting and services, Microsoft Office 365 & cloud services, risk, security, and infrastructure services.
We use our technical skills, network experience & checklist process excellence honed over the years to deliver innovative network IT solutions for businesses in Grand Rapids & Western Michigan. This frees them from the burden of managing their technology - clearing the obstacles that stand in their path to future growth.
For over 25 years i3 Business Solutions protects and improves technology for small to medium businesses with 10 to 250 employees. We can become the IT department or assist the IT department in applying checklist process excellence to accelerate business results.
i3 Business Solutions helps Michigan companies improve productivity, profitability, and manage technology risk. i3 does this by implementing and managing technology solutions to accelerate business results. From its West Michigan Network Operations Support Center, i3 becomes or assists the technology departments for small to medium businesses.
In 2017 i3 Business Solutions reached a milestone in the technology industry. We celebrated 25 years of technology services in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded by Partners Kathy Labozzetta and Mike Ritsema, i3 Business Solutions is a consulting firm which provides information technology (IT) and computer networking services to small to mid-sized organizations in the West Michigan area. i3’s services and solutions include IT staffing, server installation, network management, disaster recovery, network security, cloud computing, backup services and total information technology outsourcing and managed services.
In the early 1980s, Kathy Labozzetta graduated from college with an education degree. Back then, a fast growing technology company was looking to hire computer professionals – but there were not enough skills available. IBM profiled the candidates they wanted and landed on graduates with teaching degrees. They’re smart, willing to learn and can be trained in technology. Labozzetta landed her job at IBM, eventually advancing to a mid-range server Systems Engineering position.
In 1990 Mike Ritsema was hired out of the food service industry into an IBM Business Partner firm, Hand Crafted Systems to sell distribution industry software solutions and soon became a minority partner in the firm. In 1992, Labozzetta and others started a company called Silver Lake Resources, which was known for its distribution and manufacturing ERP expertise and IT professional services.
At the same time, 21st Century Computer Specialists was established out of the same IBM Business Partner genesis. In 2001, Ritsema and angel investors acquired the company and pulled it through the early dot com recession. In 2004 SilverLake Resources and 21st Century Computer Specialists merged to form i3 Business Solutions, llc.