Eric Marcus wasn’t a big fan of high school, even though he says Mountain Pointe High School was a very good school.
The 1998 grad didn’t pursue team sports and extracurricular affairs – his interest lay in computers and in working.
Getting paid for a job well done, even if that was making popcorn at the then-newly opened Ahwatukee AMC on Ray Road – his first job at 16.
Next came Ahwatukee’s Target, where Marcus said he was taught customer service and organizational skills.
But it was his next job selling computers at Comp USA that launched Marcus into a career path that would take him through two years at Arizona State University, a tech job with an up-and-coming dot-com company, and at age 22, the founding of Marcus Networking Inc.
Now located in Tempe, Marcus Networking Inc. is a bustling IT firm that specializes in solving computer issues for the medical field.
Marcus has 20 full-time employees, a handful of whom are related to him by blood or marriage.
In the past three years, he has purchased and absorbed two other firms involved in providing service to the medical community.
“We understand technology and telecommunications and how it ties together,” said Marcus of his 15-year-old company. “Creating innovative solutions is our passion, not just a job.”
Marcus Networking Inc. is a “boutique” firm, with 75 percent of its business in the medical field. Because medicine doesn’t sleep, neither does his company, which maintains a 24/7 hotline to assist with problems and troubleshooting.
The company is licensed, bonded, insured and has FBI and DEA credentials. Marcus said he does not outsource any work.
Among his clients is Arizona Allergy Associates, which has offices throughout the county, including Chandler, East Mesa and Queen Creek.
Deb Telles, director of operations, became acquainted with Marcus Networking in 2013 when she was with another medical firm and his company came in to oversee a computer systems conversion.
When Telles took the position at AAA, she was instrumental in introducing him and his company to her new practice and their six partner physicians.
“We started looking at the value of a company available 24-7 with a help desk that was available to all of our employees and I suggested Eric and Marcus Networking as I was impressed with the work I had seen them do previously,” she said.
The Arizona Allergy Associates network is complex, serving multiple physicians, physician extenders and nurses, some of whom who may require the service on an all-hours basis.
“I’ve got a couple night owl physicians who might be doing their charting at midnight, and if they have a systems problem, they can call Marcus Networking, and they’re back up. It’s absolutely priceless to me to have this capability not only for us, but our partner physicians,” said Telles.
For Marcus, quality of life – for himself and his employees – is paramount to success. “I think I’m pretty old-school. We still pay our employees overtime and on-call bonuses, and we pay full benefits. In the past 15 years, we’ve lost two employees,” he said, adding:
“I believe your staff is important, and you’re not going to get far unless you treat them well, and appreciate their worth.”
Because Marcus Networking Inc.’s support line is available any time of day or night, there comes a time when techs are responsible for answering those 3 a.m. calls. Robert Tanner of Gilbert is one of those techs who rotate on a seven-week schedule to be on-call after-hours and holidays.
“True, not everybody enjoys that call at 3 a.m. However, Eric makes sure we’re compensated more than fairly,” he said.
“We all understand that the people on the other end of the phone pay us,” Tanner added. “Even though the check comes from Marcus Networking, at the end of the day, without our clients, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in.”
Tanner, who is a Cisco Certified Network Associate, also said he feels “personally responsible for our client’s systems.”
“If it’s down at 3 a.m., it’s best to get started on the resolution at any time, so when the business day starts, the end-users can all get into their work without worrying about how to function without whatever system that may be down at the time,” said Tanner.
“The bottom line is it makes for good customer service, and helps your clients understand that you do care. I think that’s what sets us apart from many other companies out there.”
Marcus said his employees’ willingness to take those after-hour calls is crucial to his business. “In the medical industry, we do have doctors who call at 3 a.m. and we have to respond in a five-minute time frame. Our policy is five minutes or less, and our employees do that and do it willingly.”
Tanner also lauded Marcus Networking for offering employees a 401(k) with company match, paid vacation, benefits and flexible work schedule.
“Eric understands life and knows things come up,” he said. “I think that’s what separates him from other CEO’s whose main focus is their bottom line, and not the people that make the wheels turn day in and day out.”
Eric Marcus and his wife, Melissa, have two daughters, ages 8 and 6. He said he had a lifestyle change last year when his mother, Rochelle, died from cancer. The 80-hour workweeks diminished as he took time to be with her as her condition worsened. From that point, he said, a better balance between his business and family life became more important.
His success at a young age can be perceived as problematic, he admits.
“In IT, I think youth is a liability,” said Marcus. “A lot of people kind of look at you and decide you haven’t had a lot of time or experience to be heading a company.
“And a lot of my clients are doctors who have gone to school for years, so, yes, some clients kind of give me a little pushback. But I tell them with 20 employees having 150 years of combined experience, we get it done. It’s not just me, it’s our team.”
The family-owned and operated Marcus Networking Inc. includes his father, Sheldon Marcus, COO; his uncle Ken Gaylor, vice president of sales; Staci Gaylord, controller, and brothers-in-law Ritchie Medina and Matt Canfield as technicians.
“It’s always interesting working with family; it has its ups and downs as working with any staff would. But at the end of the day, you know they have your best interest at heart, and want to see you succeed,” he said. “You can’t put a price on that comfort.”