COLUMN: The Power Of The Ever-Changing Solution Provider

When Joe Balsarotti was 16 years old and hanging out at a computer store, he ended up advising a business owner on what system to buy: a $4,000 Apple II. The computer store manager hired him on the spot.

“A guy had questions the manager couldn’t answer, and I told him what he needed for his business,” said Balsarotti (pictured). “I told the manager, ‘You mean you’re going to pay me to play with this stuff?’”

Today, Balsarotti—who has that rare combination of technology and business savvy that is at the very heart of the solution provider model—is owner and president of Software To Go, a St. Peters, Mo., solution provider that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

The reason the business has survived and thrived is a testament to the entrepreneurial drive and razor-sharp customer-for-life focus of Balsarotti and his team. Software To Go has navigated the treacherous twists and turns of the IT solution business for four decades by consistently solving business problems for its customers—no matter the obstacles and technology pitfalls.

Of course, this sometimes means taking on thorny business problems that others would pass on. Like the time Balsarotti was asked by a business association colleague to fix a glass-cutting machine that was no longer working and had shut down a manufacturing line.ADVERTISEMENT

That machine—which included an embedded 286 computer—was out of date and could not be upgraded. “This is one of those jobs none of my staff could take on,” Balsarotti recalled. “They call it a ‘Joe project.’”

Balsarotti took some old parts and his soldering wire and ended up working from noon until midnight on the system before it was fixed. Needless to say, that plant owner was more than happy to write out the check for the job and even buy Balsarotti a meal at the local Denny’s restaurant as a thank you.
“If you didn’t fix this, we were out of business,” Balsarotti recalls the business owner saying. “I had called the manufacturer of that system, who told me that they could sell me a new one for $150,000 but they wouldn’t have it to me for five months. Tomorrow we’ll be back at work because of you.”

Balsarotti also makes sure he and his team pick up the phone and respond to customers. “I know the question that will win me the deal: When is the last time someone sat down with you and discussed your business plan and where you want to go in the future?” he said. “That’s when I often get a blank look from the prospective customer, and I know we are going to win that deal.”

At the end of the day, Balsarotti and Software To Go do what it takes to get the job done for customers. It’s why solution providers exist and why they will forever be the lifeline for customers looking for advice on how to solve a business problem with technology solutions.

For its 40th anniversary, Software To Go is giving out commemorative yardsticks— the problem is there is no yardstick that will measure just how tall Balsarotti and his team stand. Congratulations to Software To Go, and here’s to measuring how far the company goes over the next 40 years.LEARN MORE: Marketing Matters  | SMB-Midmarket Opportunities 

 Learn About Steven Burke


Steve Burke has been reporting on the technology industry and sales channel for over 30 years. He is passionate about the role of partners using technology to solve business problems and has spoken at conferences on channel sales issues. He can be reached at [email protected].


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