This year’s list of NH’s Top Family-Owned Businesses has 143 companies, including 23 companies that are new to the list. The five companies profiled from this list come from high tech and traditional manufacturing. While each of them has felt the effect of the pandemic, they are finding ways to survive, and in some cases even thrive, citing their employees and their family bonds as essential for their endurance. Here is one of those companies:
From left: Eric, Keith and Dan Bamford, co-owners. Photo by Christine Carignan.
Daystar, an IT management firm in Newington, was preparing for its 20th anniversary celebration when the world upended, and the firm found itself scrambling to help clients who needed to set up systems to work remotely.
The company, run by three brothers with 22 employees, made the transition to remote work themselves, which then helped them understand what clients were going through. “It was a major hustle,” says CEO Keith Bamford, who co-owns Daystar with his brothers Eric, COO, and Dan, chief technology officer. “We were getting floods of tickets,” he says of client requests.
“Clients saying I need to be remote with 25 people by Tuesday, can you do it?”
The firm also foresaw how the pandemic could disrupt supply chains, so they stocked up on equipment such as laptops and cameras, says Dan, adding that having that tech on hand helped them get clients up and running quickly.
This is not the company’s first major challenge. “We’ve made it through two recessions. We’ve always adapted,” Eric says.
The Bamford brothers started the company in 2000 with two other co-founders. When that didn’t work out, the brothers bought out the other partners and made Daystar a family affair. Sister-in-law Anne Brown has been director of communications and marketing for 17 years. Her sister, Karen, joined the company nine months ago as the coordinator in the service department.
To ensure family harmony, the Bamfords have defined roles and, where there isn’t agreement, majority rules.
Four years ago, the company “reinvented” itself, Keith says, transforming from helping clients manage IT problems to becoming a managed services firm, overseeing clients’ IT services and proactively dealing with issues. “We realized we were dealing with the same things over and over. We were dealing with preventable issues and not spending time helping clients go to the next level,” Keith says.
That meant separating from some long-time clients as well as cutting its own workforce. “It was a painful process,” Keith says. “We walked away from over $1 million in business.”
But the gamble paid off, and Daystar has grown 20% since. “Today we’re doing more business than we were doing back then. Clients have better results as we are talking strategy rather than firefighting,” Keith says.