Business Monday

As demand for cybersecurity grows, so does United Data Technologies

The operations center at United Data Technologies, which designs, builds and services IT systems for companies and other clients in Florida and several other states.
The operations center at United Data Technologies, which designs, builds and services IT systems for companies and other clients in Florida and several other states.

The company and its services: United Data Technologies (UDT) supplies clients with customized Information Technology (IT) services, designing and installing new systems, upgrading existing systems and managing IT departments at private companies as well as municipal, state and federal government agencies.

Founded in 1995 by two friends, Henry Fleches and Gerard Amaro, the Doral-based firm offers a wide range of IT services in Florida and other states, but stresses its expertise in cybersecurity, cloud computing and mobile connectivity in schools and transportation.

Working with customers, UDT helps design each IT system, acquires hardware and software, installs and tests each system and provides training and system management.

“We do all the plumbing that links our clients to the internet,” said Henry Fleches, the company’s CEO and co-founder.

“A big opportunity for us and a major concern for our clients is cybersecurity to avoid hacking,” said Gerard Amaro, UDT’s president and co-founder. “Cybersecurity is a process you have to manage forever. There’s no shortcut,” he said.

Often ranked as one of the fastest-growing IT companies in the United States, UDT, with about 150 full-time employees, has its headquarters and five other offices in Florida and six in other states, mostly in the Southeast.

The mid-sized IT company was able to grow quickly as demand mushroomed for cybersecurity, cloud services and mobile Wi-Fi systems. It was able to respond more nimbly than its largest competitors and was successful in adding business clients to its portfolio of school systems, the partners said. The company also gained a reputation for excellent customer service and long-term commitment to each client’s needs.

Clients include Miami-Dade County Public Schools (mobile computing), other school systems in the Southeast, Seaboard Marine (eCloud network) and the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (Wi-Fi on buses).

“In 2008, about 90 percent of our business was in schools (K-12),” Fleches said. “Now, schools account for about 55 percent.”

Getting started: UDT’s founders were close friends in high school here and studied together at Florida International University. They both obtained bachelor’s degrees in business administration at FIU and learned all they could about emerging computer technology. “After FIU, we had to grow up and find a job,” Amaro said. “And Henry had the idea of working together. We started out setting up [computer] networks for small businesses,” he said.

Fleches agreed: “There was a lot of work for us, but when we started, it wasn’t easy at the time. We were there when networking got started.”

The difference: “We’re small, flexible and fast,” Fleches said, adding that they are more agile than the large IT firms they compete with. “We know our clients well and we know what they need. Our people constantly keep the customers’ interests in mind.”

Revenues: More than $214 million in 2015, up from $84 million in 2012. Projected revenues for 2016 are $235 million, nearly a 10 percent increase. The company’s revenues grew by 151 percent over the past three years.

Competitors: Presidio, CDW, ProSys, plus others.

Glitch: After 9/11, many of UDT’s clients placed orders on hold and the company had to readjust its portfolio. “We learned to diversify,” Amaro said.

Outside view: Fleches, the company CEO, was named 2016 executive of the year by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and the firm was a finalist in the chamber’s 2016 Good to Great Awards for industry leaders. In addition, CRN magazine, a leading source of news and analysis for the IT sector, named UDT to its 2016 list of the top 500 IT providers by revenue. UDT also appeared on Inc. Magazine’s 2016 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing American companies for the seventh year in a row.

What customers say: UDT built a mobile wireless system for 187 public buses in the Hillsborough Regional Transit Authority. The buses cover a 1,000-square-mile transit area that includes Tampa, and this was the first time a project of this scope was successful in the U.S. The network provides cell coverage and internet connections for each bus.

“We’re trying to be a different type of transit agency, and being able to provide these types of cutting-edge services to our patrons was an important part of our vision,” said HART CFO Jeff Steward. “If I could report that every project that we undertake is on time and within budget, I would feel like a hero. Normally, I can’t do that. With this one, it was a great team and collaboration.”

Indian River County Schools reviewed offers from several vendors and chose UDT to buy and install modern, computer-linked audiovisual equipment for its classrooms. The system provides a high-quality large screen in each classroom for teaching (including slides and other visuals, viewing and discussing individual student work), plus a sound system that reaches all students in the classroom. This was not just a new teaching tool, but “transformed” the class environment and “became a very essential component in the classroom,” said Bruce Green, educational accountability and instructional data analyst for the school system. UDT “didn’t just buy and install the equipment, they trained the teachers and will maintain the equipment,” he said. “They’re a long-term partner.”

Challenges and outlook: UDT sees especially strong opportunities in cybersecurity, cloud computing and connecting transportation systems to Wi-Fi technology. A big challenge for the firm is hiring the right personnel. “We need people like us — versatile, team-driven professionals who have a sense of responsibility and who want to accomplish more,” Fleches said.

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Business: United Data Technologies provides clients with a wide range of advanced, customized services in Information Technology (IT). UDT designs, builds, delivers, installs and services new IT systems. It also upgrades existing systems and manages IT for private companies, as well as municipal, state and federal agencies. It works in areas such as installing and monitoring advanced cybersecurity systems; creating mobile and fixed Wi-Fi networks and building private clouds or connecting customers to public and hybrid clouds. Based in Doral, the privately held firm has five other offices in Florida and six in other states.

Headquarters: 8825 NW 21st Terrace, Doral.

Founded: 1995 in Miami.

Founders: Henry Fleches and Gerard Amaro.

Leadership: Henry Fleches, CEO, and Gerard Amaro, president.

Employees: About 150, plus contractors. Some have been with company for more than 15 years.

Ownership: Henry Fleches and Gerard Amaro.


Source: United Data Technologies