Recently, we had a sit-down conversation with Rashaad Bajwa, CEO of Integris, and Will Welch, former CEO of CalTech, one of the latest companies to join forces with Integris. It’s an important discussion because CalTech represents the addition of more than 150 employees to the Integris network. With this addition, Integris is stepping into providing IT MSP services to the community banking and credit union vertical—CalTech’s specialty. If you’re wondering how this is going to impact the services we can offer, give our podcast a listen, or check out these summarized remarks below. It’s big news!
Want to listen to the full interview? Play it here!
Q. Caltech is a highly successful MSP with a long, long history of working in the banking segment. Integris is a hugely fast-growing MSP that’s really coming up in the world. What was it about Integris that made you want to do this?
Will Welch: We’ve been very fortunate to have a great team, and we’ve been looking for another team that had great leadership, a great vision that aligned with ours, and ultimately values that aligned with our culture. And we finally found that in Integris. We hope that it continues to prove fruitful for our team, which it seems to!
Rashaad Bajwa: As you know, Integris is already the coming together of quite a few best-in-class, high-performing MSPs, and so we have a lot of swagger. We’re not only growing fast, but we’re a premium provider, and have a very strong reputation in the marketplace. When we were looking for a company that could match that kind of energy—with numbers, with performance, with reputation. CalTech was as good as we’ve seen.
But then, when you have conversations about joining forces, you realize there are so many other critical underpinnings to it. And that starts with values. The fact that the leadership team that we met spoke about their people the same way we do, and wanted the same thing for their clients and their staff like us…we could see they were focused on their legacy. Their focus on community, too, was incredibly powerful to us. That’s when we knew they’d be a great partner, and we’d have a good future together.
Q. Could you give us an overview of what makes CalTech such a leader in the banking and credit union space? What differentiates the company from other MSPs?
Will Welch: That’s where I like to brag. For the past 22 years, at least since y2k, we’ve been focused on growing our community banking and credit union practice. That required us to do it right. Our team enjoyed working in a regulated industry that had someone looking over their shoulder, making them do things the right way. We didn’t have to do things halfway or half-baked solutions. We were able to do it with a focus on security and ultimately a focus on compliance.
Compliance does not equate to security. You have to be truly focused on security to end up secure. As we’ve seen in the news over the past couple of years, anybody is a target these days and that is definitely true for financial institutions. So the reason why I believe this move makes such great sense for Integris is that we’re able to truly stand up a financial institution division that has the expertise, years of training, and a team to truly focus on that.
Everything from our cybersecurity to our data center, to our hosting offerings, has been specifically designed to be compliant. This keeps our community financial institutions independent. And that’s what we want to do. We want to make their jobs easier so that they can stay independent and keep serving the communities that they’re in.
These financial institutions are critical to the communities they’re in. It’s imperative that our country have community banks and we believe in their mission. We believe in what they’re here for, and we want to help them remain independent.
Q. How are your customers reacting to the news of the merger
Rashaad Bajwa: Integris actually had quite a few community banks as our clients already. For instance, I’m in New Jersey. The New Jersey Banking Association has been our managed services client for years.
Through that relationship, there were community banks that came our way. That being said, when we were evaluating options around the industry, we saw in CalTech a deep level of experience, knowledge, and reputation, not only in the technology piece of community banking, but the relationships, and the community part.
We are approaching our Integris banking clients, telling them, yes, we’ve helped you with infrastructure and cybersecurity. Now we can add CalTech’s additional assistance with compliance, working with the regulators, and some of these core processors. We have these folks who are now on our team, and now they get the depth and breadth of services that we can offer, which are far greater than before.
Will Welch: So, the interesting part is, CalTech is in a similar situation to Integris. We have some clients who are not community banks, so they are looking forward to the extra services Integris can offer. Integris is committed to letting our existing customers keep the products and services they enjoy. However, If there’s a better solution through Integris, we want to evaluate that and show it them. We wanna give them that option, but we don’t want to break anything that’s working right today.
All of that said, on the community banking side, our community banking clients are excited because they know that we’re able to focus even more on community banking, with no distractions. We’re able to truly be financial institution specialists even more than we’ve ever been before
We have well over a hundred community financial institutions that we work with, and they’re being examined or audited continuously. We understand what that means. So, in general, our customers are excited about it and I look forward to watching us get even better.
Rashaad Bajwa: Now we can go back to those same community banks in full confidence, and say that we can deliver a best-in-class solution. Exactly as Will said, not only the infrastructure, the cybersecurity, but the entire gambit of its needs, going all the way to the regulatory and compliance stuff as well.
Q. CalTech offers deep expertise and advanced tools for financial institutions. Integris offers boots on the street in 11 states, and a national network of virtual Chief Executive Officers to handle a client’s strategic cybersecurity and compliance needs. As you’re looking down the road at what the possibilities are, what has you most excited about these newly merged companies?
Rashaad Bajwa: As someone who has seen literally thousands of MSPs in virtually every single state in the country, I can tell you there is no better product. When you put CalTech and Integris together, there literally is no better product as operationally mature, with the depth of offering we can bring to financial institutions. Now, we can bring that to the national stage.
Will Welch: Our team is really excited about what this will mean, and we’ve been seeing it in our internal meetings and town halls. We’ve been blessed beyond measure to have a team like that.
Q. Community Banks and Credit Unions are operating a difficult business with a high regulatory load. What inspired you to work with this industry segment, and what do you think these organizations bring to the table for their communities?
Will Welch: Community banks understand their communities. The people who work there and are on their boards have lived in those communities their whole lives. They know which families need help. They know who can pay them back. They have a deep desire to improve the communities they’re in to help with education, kids’ events, and so much more. They understand that communities need a financial backbone to strive, and they understand their role in providing that. Generation after generation, you can see the impact the bank has had on the community. They are incredibly important to our country.
Rashaad Bajwa: Community banks are very much like the story of Integris. The companies that came together to form Integris were MSPs in their local community. Integris now is the combination over many, many years of a lot of these local community MSPs that have now come together. Therefore, we can leverage scale and resources to keep up with new threats and regulatory requirements. But it’s locally focused. We have managing directors in every single market because we know. We wanna have gravitas in the local region. We don’t want to lose that local relationship touch. We’d never want to become like some national utility where there’s no more humanity, and everyone’s just a number. People go to community banks because they know their banker and their banker knows them. People use Integris because they know who these IT folks are.
It is their IT department. We are their IT department. And these folks are in their community. They go to the same schools. They are involved in the same business associations. They’re our managing directors are on the local boards of nonprofits and community org. So it’s really important. Our contribution to protecting community banks is very much in the same vein as the way that we see success for ourselves.
Q. It’s all about business enablement, isn’t it, and helping clients be ready for whatever comes at them?
Rashaad Bajwa: That’s exactly right. Whether you’re talking about our client banks, or Integris itself, we’re all in the business enablement industry. A bank’s tool is capital. Our tool is technology, but our jobs are the same. And that is to allow the businesses and our local communities to thrive and to not be at a disadvantage compared to national peers.