Stronghold Data, L.L.C. – Joplin

Caves and high tech normally don’t go together.Stronghold Data logo

But they should.

Stronghold Data, an IT solutions firm in Joplin, has placed its state-of the-art, fully redundant data center 85 feet underground guarded by several layers of physical security, video cameras, biometric and other ID requirements. All their data and state-of-the art hardware is as protected as that of NASA and can serenely weather any natural and most man-made disasters. See a tour of this ultra-secure data stronghold in this video [5 min.].

This security is vitally important for Stronghold’s far-flung clients in the insurance, financial, healthcare, law enforcement, manufacturing and other industries throughout the U.S. and from the Caribbean to Canada, in five main areas:

  • Small Medium Business (SMB) to Enterprise hardware and software sales
  • Managed services and monthly contractual support
  • Voice over IP (VoIP, a group of technologies that delivers voice communication and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol — chances are good your office phone uses VoIP) and digital telecommunications services
  • Cloud hosting, site backup for email
  • Carrier services — phone and other data services through AT&T and other providers.
James Richards, CEO of Stronghold Data

James Richards, CEO of Stronghold Data

“We try to stay in these five lanes,” says James Richards, CEO. “We don’t get distracted by other things, such as software development or creative stuff like websites. This way, we can be experts in what we do, and not be distracted by what our competition is doing.”

With the expert financial guidance of Lisa Robinson, director and Ken Surbrugg, consultant with the Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC, a BDP program), Stronghold’s reputation and expertise have grown so rapidly that Richards believes the firm will double its current 16 employees and dramatically increase revenue in the next two to three years.

“We also need more physical space,” says Richards. “So we are looking at potentially building a new facility. At the same time, we’ve thought about opening offices in locations two to three hours away (from Joplin) so we don’t have to travel as much.”

Richards is speaking on his cell phone, driving to Oklahoma with his wife and CFO Tami Richards. They’ll be in Austin the week afterward.

computers housed in a cave

An array of Stronghold Data’s computer servers kept cool and secure 85 feet underground.

Richards acknowledges Robinson, Surbrugg and other MSSU SBTDC staff for nearly a decade of steering Stronghold through sometimes choppy financial waters. This aid has ranged from mastering the quirks of QuickBooks, company credit card reconciliation, payroll, accounts payable, sales tax and profit and loss statements.

“The SBTDC has been great!” he says. He pauses to pay a toll. “Ken has offered classes in understanding financial statements, and it’s helped me a lot. I had a little experience from college, before I went into computers, but Ken has been so helpful, educating me as a small business owner to understand the details of statements.

“And Lisa has been enormously helpful to Tami. She has just been a huge help with QuickBooks.”

In fact, he says, Stronghold’s financial statements are now so strong that the firm’s CPA was impressed — as was a global financial firm when Stronghold recently applied for a seven-figure line of credit.

“They were amazed at our financials,” Richards says. ” ‘You run a really tight ship!’ was what they said.”

old Radio Shack TRS-80 computer

One of Richards’ first computers was a TRS-80 from Radio Shack.

They were granted that line of credit.

Richards didn’t grow up with financial statements, but he did grow up with computers. He remembers his father hauling home a bulky TRS-80, one of the first home computers.

“So as a little kid, I grew up with dad tinkering with computers. That started me early.”

The pace of change in his 25 subsequent years in the industry has been sometimes dizzying. “You have to stay up to date with what the manufacturers are putting out there,” he says. “My staff and I, we are always retraining, keeping track of what’s out there, what customers want. You are always learning something new, learning bigger and better ways to more efficiently and more cost effectively serve your customers.

“At the end of the day, if we stay on top of our game, we can keep our clients on top of their game.”

Stronghold Data staff with some of the computers.

Stronghold Data staff in one of the secure data rooms. Pictured left to right: Brad Schneider (senior project manager), David Markley (CIO), Jason Rincker (director of sales) and James Richards (CEO).


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