Q&A with Brian Ruschman, President of C-Forward, Inc.

Q&A with Brian Ruschman, President of C-Forward, Inc.

C-Forward is a top Tier Managed Services Provider for Manufacturers and Non-Profits monitoring and managing a customer’s Computer Network 24/7, Cloud Computing and Data Security while Implementing IT Solutions.

CEOCFO: Mr. Ruschman, according to your site, C-Forward prides itself on being a top tier managed services provider. How so? What is a top tier provider in your eyes?
Mr. Ruschman: Top tier means providing great customer support, being available when our clients need us. We are a 24/7 company with many clients in manufacturing as well as those operating twenty-four hour businesses. Our ability to proactively support them even in off hours makes us top tier. We have several types of software that are configured to alert and monitor so can we find issues before they become big problems. Usually around the security realm, we have eight or nine tools that we use and always upgrade and change. Making sure a firewall is configured correctly, antivirus is updated and malicious emails don’t make it to a user’s inbox is the first step. More importantly we have found that training users on being aware of incoming email and to question messages and attachments or links is the most important thing to prevent downloading viruses.

CEOCFO: How do you train someone not to fall back on old habits? How do you train someone to not click on everything and not instinctively click when you see something scary?
Mr. Ruschman: We educate on what malicious software that hackers employ and the newest tricks that are being used. If you do not think you have a UPS package coming to you or if you do not do business with a certain company, or if the FBI or IRS has randomly contacted you, chances are, it is not a legitimate request. We deploy software for our clients that sends fake Emails and reports back who clicks on the links. The purpose is to discover the habitual offenders who aren’t stopping to think before clicking on an attachment. In an organization with 100 people, if we have three or four people that click on every one of those fake messages that we send them, we have a pretty good idea of who needs training. It is not 100% guaranteed but we really do focus on training those specific people about why something they clicked on was a malicious email and how it can cause infections to be downloaded onto the network.

CEOCFO: You mentioned manufacturing companies and 24/7 businesses. Was that a focus from day one or did it develop opportunistically for those types of businesses?
Mr. Ruschman: It developed opportunistically. We still do not focus on any one vertical. We have earned a great deal of our business by word of mouth referrals. We supply great support and solutions for a company in manufacturing as well as in the non-profit world. These CEO’s and Executive Directors then talk to their friends who are in the same industry. We were founded 20 years ago by our Chairman of the Board, Brent Cooper, with a philanthropic mindset. Naturally, we were a great fit to non-profit organizations, who are prominent in the community. We supported their organizations internal network and, in turn, also supported their fundraising efforts by giving back to the community. We provided terrific support and our name got out in the community. Our clients tend to tell their friends and their friends begin to work with us. We have historically done very little marketing outside of sponsoring our clients’ events.

CEOCFO: What is your geographic range?
Mr. Ruschman: We support clients nationally. Our local headquarters are in Covington which supports Greater Cincinnati and then an office in Lexington supporting Central Kentucky. Some clients have their headquarters in Cincinnati but we support their branch offices in other states as far as Texas, Florida and New Jersey. However, ninety percent of our business is within the greater Cincinnati area but is continually growing in Lexington and Louisville.

CEOCFO: Do you do much on premise these days?
Mr. Ruschman: Almost all work that we do on premise at this point is proactive work. We visit our clients at least once a quarter (sometimes once a month) and review their infrastructure, making sure things in the networking closets and all onsite hardware is operational and running well. A good deal of our work is done remotely. We have one employee that does 100% of her job from Baltimore. When our Lexington technicians are not going on site to clients in central Kentucky, they are assisting clients that reside closer to Covington. We open, work on and close 60-70% of our tickets proactively, without involving our client at all. For example, we may get an alert that a backup didn’t complete successfully. We would work the solution and fix it without our client ever knowing that it failed. There are a lot of tools now that were not available three years ago that allow us to do that. Our client gets a notification that a ticket was open and then closed with notes on what we fixed, but other than that, they do not even know that we worked on it.

CEOCFO: Do many of your clients want to know what you are doing; do they care as long as everything is running well/?
Mr. Ruschman: They typically do not care. We promote ourselves as their IT department. We are going to be proactive and stay on top of things. We want our client’s IT to be an afterthought, we want computers to work and we want them to be able to do their job. Our goal is not to spend hours on the phone with clients trying to fix an issue. We have proactive software in place to avoid that situation. We put duplication efforts in place for firewalls and routers and with multiple datacenters for backup.

CEOCFO: How do you stay on top and ahead of the curve on things like security? How do you know what is right for any given customer?
Mr. Ruschman: You have to stay on top of it because it changes all the time. I go to five or six conferences a year to learn about the solutions that are available and I learn from different software vendors on their newest updates. When I return, our management team and I go over what we have and we determine if a different, newer solution would be a better fit for what we need to accomplish. Allowing us to be more proactive and security-focused is normally what would have us make a change to a new product. We are a Managed Services Provider, we have a security package and our clients use all services that we offer. We do not granularly offer them certain things. It helps our technicians know what is in place and we use the same tools for all 150 of our clients right now. It has streamlined everything that we do.

CEOCFO: What has changed at C-Forward since you became president in August?
Mr. Ruschman: I have focused on streamlining our efforts to be a complete Managed Services Provider. We have eliminated or upgraded existing clients and situations that were not very successful for us. We want our clients to be happy and we discovered that the unhappy clients were the ones that still utilized us at an hourly rate and called us when they had issues. They were not getting proactive support, not using the tools that we recommend and they were not on our managed services plan. One big change is that we no longer offer hourly rates or block time. We had to realize that our model was not going to work for everybody, but we promote how they can now budget and know exactly what they are going to spend each month. Our clients had to decide what was best for their business. It is my job to sell the value in having a 24/7 reliable helpdesk to work on their network and finding issues before they become big problems; allowing their workforce to continue their jobs with little to no downtime. It is a business decision on their end and on our end. Some clients stayed and others left but it was handled professionally so there were no breaks in service for anyone.

CEOCFO: Are you doing things like cabling and offering staffing for all of your clients or is that as requested?
Mr. Ruschman: We employ cabling specialists in-house and have many projects going on right now with new and old construction. Projects range from one or two new cables to large, new buildings that may involve hundreds of hours to complete. There are some clients that we provide staffing for eight hours a day onsite. That is an option for some larger companies that need the onsite presence and knowledge of an IT team.

CEOCFO: What do you look for in your people?
Mr. Ruschman: You have to have personality. In our field, being able to have a discussion with someone who is not technical and being able to relay information so people can understand it, is very important. Technicians can sometimes do that and sometimes they can’t. The other important attribute is to have a proactive mindset of support; being able to make suggestions when a light is blinking red and not just ignoring it for the next guy. Walking into a building, fixing the issue and leaving does not cut it. We have “proactive” in our tagline for a reason and that is why. We stress that it is important to “see something and say something.”

CEOCFO: What is next for C-Forward?
Mr. Ruschman: It is expansion into new cities. We expanded into Lexington last year and currently have six clients with three employees. Coincidentally, all of the clients in Lexington also have offices in Louisville, so that will be our next move. Dayton and Columbus also make sense. Up until now, we have never grown by acquisition and I envision that to remain the same. We have had slow and steady growth over twenty years and we intend to maintain that. We are at a point now where we are very confident in what we are selling and where we are going. It took us some time to get here, but the management team has worked together over the last four or five years with a franchise-type mentality. Anyone we trust would be able to open an office by mirroring our current operations. We have studied and researched as to why we do what we do and I think expanding for those reasons is going to be a lot simpler in the future.

Source: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine

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C-Forward President To Serve On NKU Presidential Search Committee

NKU Logo

C-Forward is announcing that our President, Brent Cooper, has agreed to serve on the Northern Kentucky University Presidential Search Committee. In addition, Brent also serves as Co-Chair of the NKU Foundation Advocacy committee, and as a member of the NKU Haile/US Bank College of Business Advisory Board.

When asked about the presidential search committee Cooper said, “NKU is critical to our region, so it will be an honor to serve with such a distinguished group of community leaders, led by our search committee chair, Norm Desmarais.   I have no doubt we will find a new President that will continue the tradition of excellence at Northern Kentucky University.”

C-Forward employs a number of NKU Graduates, including a Supervisor and Vice President.

The following letter explaining the search committee was sent by NKU’s Board of Regents Chair, Rich Boehne earlier today:

NKU campus community:

We’re making tremendous progress on our search for the university’s next president.

The search committee is now in place, led by Regent Norm Desmarais. Norm, working with the university community, solicited a broad and diverse group to handle this vital search. The 19 members represent talent and expertise from both inside and outside the university. They are listed below, or at

Plus, we’re close to selecting the best external firm to assist with the nationwide search. This firm will work closely with the search committee to identify, recruit, assess and ultimately recommend candidates to interview for the position. Their participation in the process will ensure that we are provided with a rich and diverse pool of candidates that exemplify both the mission and ambition of Northern Kentucky University.

Soon, we’ll be holding listening sessions on campus to hear your thoughts and ideas in preparation for development of the job profile we’ll use to attract and screen candidates. These sessions are an essential step in the process, and we sincerely hope you’ll join us as we decide together what to look for in our next president.

While our schedule is aggressive, it will still take some months to get the best person in place. To bridge the gap between Geoff’s departure in May and the new president’s arrival, the regents will name an interim president to lead the university.

At the board meeting on March 15, I will propose that the regents consider and support Gerard St. Amand to serve in that interim role.

Most of you know Gerry from his service to the university as Vice President for University Advancement and Dean of Chase College of Law. If there is one trait that defines his career path, it is dedication. He could have easily served five additional years in the United States Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps and retired as a colonel. However, Gerry saw an opportunity to make an impact, so he left the Army to join NKU as Chase Law Dean. So too could he have quietly retired after his tenure as Vice President for Advancement came to an end, but he chose to return to the faculty of Chase Law where he continued his brilliant career of service and education to our students and university.

Gerry’s particular experience with our university, his familiarity with the strategies and culture that have come to define NKU, in addition to his proven and diverse leadership skills, make him my recommended candidate for this key positon.

It’s also important to note that by considering Gerry, we allow our senior campus leaders to continue their demanding roles without having to take on additional duties during this transition. Bringing him on board to an already strong senior leadership staff will allow NKU to continue its trajectory as a university on the rise while we search for our next president.

More to come. Just wanted to give you a preview of the recommendation that I will make to the board in a couple of weeks as well as additional updates on the presidential search process.

Presidential Search and Selection Committee

  • Normand Desmarais (Chair) – Regent, Chairman & Founding Partner, TiER1 Performance Solutions
  • David Bauer – Heavy Equipment/Grounds Operator, Operations and Maintenance
  • Martin Butler – Attorney, Strauss Troy (Chase ’77)
  • Garren Colvin – CEO, St. Elizabeth Healthcare (MBA ’96)
  • Brent Cooper – President & Owner, C-Forward Information Technology
  • Maureen Doyle – Chair & Associate Professor, Computer Science
  • Virginia Fox – Regent, Former Executive Director & CEO, Kentucky Educational Television
  • Rachel Green – Director, Human Relations & EEO, Human Resources
  • Francoise Kazimierczuk – Assistant Professor, Allied Health
  • Wendy Lea – CEO, Cintrifuse
  • Monica Molestina – Undergraduate student, Organizational Leadership & Spanish
  • Dannie Moore – Assistant Vice President, Student Inclusiveness
  • David Raska – Assistant Professor, Marketing, Economics & Sports Business
  • Cindy Reed – Dean, College of Education & Human Services
  • Dennis Repenning – Regent, Attorney, Dennis Repenning PSC (Chase ’79)
  • Lee Scheben – Regent, Executive Vice President, Heritage Bank (Chase ’91)
  • David Singleton – Associate Professor, Chase College of Law
  • Rebecca Walker – Acting Director, College of Informatics Advising
  • Matthew Zacate – Associate Professor, Physics & Geology


Rich Boehne

Chair, Board of Regents

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Best Smartphones for Mobile Employees

Best Smartphones for Mobile Employeesphones

Mobile devices have offered the enterprise productivity platforms that allow employees to stay connected even while away from their desks.

The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ scheme has offered businesses a way to encourage their staff to utilize their own smartphones and tablets for work purposes. Research states mobile devices for work will be a necessity and no longer an option for employees by 2017. According to Gartner, 50% of employers will start requiring their staff to supply their own device for work purposes by next year.

Businesses have seen the benefits of BYOD, such as creating new mobile workforce opportunities, reducing or avoiding costs, and increasing employee satisfaction. However, having a smartphone alone is not enough to become a productive mobile employee. Each smartphone has specialized features targeting specific users. Tech page O2 has featured particular handsets that fit the requirement of employers. Regardless of the price range, these are high-performing devices with biometric sensors, faster processors, bigger memory, and longer lasting battery life. If you want to know some of the best smartphones for on-the-go employees, then read on below to find out.

OnePlus 3
It’s obvious in today’s market that the performance of a smartphone is no longer measured by its price, as some low-range handsets now have premium features. This is what the OnePlus 3 offers to those who have a very limited budget for mobile devices. The smartphone comes with the latest technology with its AMOLED display, its Snapdragon 820 processor, a huge 6GB RAM, 3000mAh battery and fingerprint sensor for added security. It also has a slim, strong, and sleek design, so users don’t need to compromise between beauty and performance.

iPhone 7
Although many iFans were disappointed with the disappearance of the headphone jack on the latest iPhone, Apple gave the handset plenty of new upgrades. First, they finally made the handset waterproof with its IP65 certification, making it a perfect fit for field workers, as it is now able to withstand bumps, drops, and liquids. Second, the A10 processor is “the most powerful chip ever in an iPhone,” making it two times faster than its predecessor and more efficient with longer battery life. Lastly, Apple has incorporated a faster 4G LTE (450Mbps) with the best worldwide roaming that is compatible with up to 25 bands.

Galaxy S7 Edge
Samsung retained the design of their Galaxy Edge series and added more durability and improved the performance with the release of the S7 Edge. It comes with a 200GB expandable memory slot for more file storage, better battery life, and waterproof features. The handset also features the SmartCall app that immediately identifies spam and unwanted calls as well as the Always-On Display (AOD) that keeps useful information on the screen even when it’s idle. The edged, curved screen also allows users to have more space to work with as quick app icons can be placed on the side-to-side display.

As a different modular smartphone experience, the LG G5 comes with great technical specifications that fit the needs of every mobile employee. The external memory card slot can take up to 2TB of microSD storage with a 32GB internal memory. Being a modular device, LG has introduced two modules – CAM Plus that enhances the camera features of the device, and the Hi-Fi Plus that improves the audio quality of the handset. The company is working with a third-party module provider to create more compatible ‘bloks’ for the handset.


Exclusively written for CForward
by TechnoloJtoday

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C-Forward welcomes new Network Engineer: Bryan Cobb


Bryan Cobb is a Network Engineer for C-Forward. He spent 15 years as the IT/Facilities Director at the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD) transforming it into one of the most technologically advanced Area Development Districts in the state of KY.
Bryan is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University with a BS in Computer Science. He is also a graduate of Leadership Northern Kentucky 2013 and currently sits on the Leadership Education Day Committee. In 2012, Bryan started New Haven’s first father engagement program at New Haven Elementary called, “Tiger Dads” which currently enlists over 300 father figures.

Bryan also serves on the NKY MakerSpace Steering Committee and was a Cub Scout leader for 4 years.
He enjoys being outdoors, playing golf, snow skiing and home improvement projects, but most important, he likes spending time with his wife and kids. Bryan and his wife Cristina currently reside in Union, KY with their two children Zachary and Avery.