Penton Technology Names CarefreeIT as #1 Managed Service Provider in Canada

8th Annual Report Identifies World’s Top Managed Service Providers

By: Stephanie Petrashko | April 2, 2015

John Balch, founder and President of CarefreeIT.

John Balch, founder and President of CarefreeIT.

CarefreeIT Ltd. has appeared on Penton Technology’s eighth annual MSPmentor 501 Global Edition, a distinguished list and report identifying the world’s top 501 managed service providers (MSPs). Additional lists include the top small business MSPs, where CarefreeIT ranked first among Canadian companies. Rankings are based on factors such as company size, growth, revenue, and number of devices managed per employee.

"We’re very pleased to be recognized in this way and grateful for the trust our clients have placed in us,” said John Balch, President of CarefreeIT. "We’ll continue to work tirelessly to ensure their IT serves their business goals."

Managed services was a term adopted in the early 2000s to refer to outsourced information technology support provided for a flat monthly fee. Compared to the pay-as-you-go approach for supporting IT, the flat fee model incentivizes the IT provider to provide problem-free systems, and offers predictable fees for the client. The MSP assumes an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring, and managing and resolving problems for the IT systems in a business.

According to Penton Technology’s March 26th release, CarefreeIT was ranked first in Canada on its list of top small business MSPs globally, which honours those with 10 or fewer employees, and 29th overall.

The Waterloo-based company was also ranked 481st among all managed service providers worldwide, 14th in Ontario and first in Waterloo Region.

MSPmentor is a firm offering information and guidance for MSPs, and is the most popular online media destination for managed service providers in the world. It is produced by Penton Technology, an information services company that drives performance for more than 16 million professionals daily.

This year the top MSPmentor 501 companies recorded the highest recurring revenues since the organization began ranking MSPs eight years ago. Combined, the total annual recurring revenues for all of MSPmentor 501 2015 companies reached a record high of $3.95 billion in 2014, up 27% from the previous year.

"We want to congratulate CarefreeIT and look forward to covering their growth strategies in the year ahead," said Marcia Parker, Executive Director of Penton Technology Group.

CarefreeIT was founded by John Balch in Waterloo in 1998. The company’s founding principle was the delivery of reliable and professional IT support for businesses – for a flat monthly fee.  Today, the company is a technology partner for many businesses – managing over 1,500 systems – where their focus remains on providing reliable IT and maximizing the return on their clients’ IT investment.

To learn more about CarefreeIT or book a free consultation, please call 519-883-7815 ext. 3, e-mail, or visit their website at

CarefreeIT CEO and owner John Balch said his service is trying to take the headaches out of IT for small business owners.

CarefreeIT CEO and owner John Balch said his service is trying to take the headaches out of IT for small business owners.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 10:10:18 AM

A Carefree Way to do IT

By Bob Vrbanac, Chronicle Staff 


The team at CarefreeIT could see the big storm coming a few weeks ago as they were remote monitoring their clients’ operations from Windsor to Waterloo as the winds and rain howled through Southern Ontario.

“Our monitoring was going crazy,” said John Balch, CEO and owner of the Waterloo-based IT support company. “Alerts go to our central board and we get notified by them and we could see it all happening.

“It’s interesting because we can follow the route of a storm as our clients are affected.”

While some small business owners were left wondering whether their networks, servers and computer systems would be operational come Monday morning, the clients of the Waterloo-based information technology services company had the security of knowing they would be up and running. Carefree could address the problems of powers outages and systems outages remotely to make sure that their clients would operate seamlessly when they reopened for business.

“You can see the storm progressing,” said Balch. “But once the power is back, if things don’t go back up we’ll go in to make sure they’re back up.”

Taking the worry of out IT for small to medium businesses has been the mission of CarefreeIT since Balch founded the company more than 13 years ago.

He had worked for bigger institutions, like local insurance companies, but soon realized the importance of having seamless IT operations was crucial to a company's bottom line.

He thought that peace of mind would also be important for businesses of about 10 to 100 people — who make up most of the employers out there — to have similar protections in place and decided to go out on his own to service that growing market.

“I identified a niche and knew that there were a lot of companies struggling with IT,” said Balch. “They weren’t large enough to hire their own internal IT staff.

“They needed someone to act as their virtual IT department.”

They’ve grown to provided all the IT solutions — including design, maintenance, updating security and virus protection — for more than 25 businesses including one that has 50 operations stretching all the way to Ottawa.

“IT people are expensive and they tend to move around a lot,” said Balch. “It’s a headache to manage and train them, and once you get them trained they can go somewhere else. It’s rare that it’s not cheaper to outsource it.”

Balch said that they’ve managed to put a team in place to provide expertise in all the critical areas, from e-mail to servers to database management. “Our entire focus is to take the IT worry away from business owners so that anything IT related, we look after them.”

The other thing they provide is a way to end the break/fix cycle that a lot clients can get into. It’s not just about fixing problems, it’s about preventing them and breaking out of that costly cycle.

“What we started doing right from the start was flat-fee monthly contracts based on the size of the company,” said Balch. “So it didn’t matter how many problems you had, it was a flat fee.

“It aligned our goals with the company goals, because we don’t want you to have problems.”

Prevention, monitoring and planning for the replacement of products that wear out or get outdated help to ensure that IT issues are at a minimum, and it is a business tool instead of a cost centre.

“We invested quite heavily in tools, so we monitor our customers networks from top to bottom 24/7,” said Balch. “We’ll hear about issues about our customers before they do, and we’ll go into fix them and they’re not even aware, especially overnight or on weekends.

“They’ll come in on a Monday and not even know that we’ve done anything.”

“We take pride in our proactive approach,” said Stephanie Petrashko, Business Development Specialist with CarefreeIT. “We provide services instead of reacting to problems.”

Balch said they work with companies to make sure that their IT is aligned with their business goals, and that includes making recommendations about where they should be spending their money in updating, maintaining and repairing their systems.

“We act as a partner, so when it’s budget time, we can show them some of the priorities in keeping with their goals,” said Balch. “It’s more than "My computer's down; fix it" — we try to operate at a higher level than that.”

His technical representatives also provide something that is sometime is rare in dealing with IT professionals — customer service that doesn’t talk down to their clients about the technical issues.

“They appreciate that we can take these technical terms and explain them in a non-demeaning way,” said Balch. “That's something we stress very strongly — communication in plain English.”

He said he understands why kind of essential service they can provide.

“We all have computers and we depend on them,” said Balch. “We take IT out of their list of concerns. Our service plans are all inclusive, and they know what they’re IT costs are going to be for the year.”

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