They’re long-established as leading commercial IT specialists, they launched a marketing arm shortly before lockdown and now Cornerstone are focusing on IT within the education sector too.
It’s no wonder the Stockton firm has made the decision to form an overarching company, Cornerstone Group.
Far from resting on its laurels, Cornerstone used the lockdown to cement and launch two additional arms of the business – Cornerstone Marketing Solutions and Cornerstone Education Solutions.
Earlier this year the firm realised it had been very successful at getting its own name known and so decided to offer marketing services as part of its portfolio.
Lockdown also gave Cornerstone time to develop a business plan to launch an education arm which will offer specialist IT services to schools and colleges.
“We’ve done some research and we think we can seriously raise the bar in terms of the IT service being offered to the local education sector,” says MD Chris Petty, who believes Cornerstone is the only company between York and Newcastle to have an Apple-certified engineer.
“We’re targeting the many local schools because we feel the education sector has become used to a service that’s outdated. We’re able to offer a responsive service that is there when schools need it.
“It’s something we’ve been looking at for some time but lockdown gave us an opportunity to put some plans in place and we’re already on with recruitment.”
Coming off the back of an exciting launching of Cornerstone Marketing Solutions, Chris describes it as “arguably the most exciting time for the business”.
“We’re really ambitious to keep growing and offering the services Teesside needs,” he said. “We’ve looked to expand into other geographic areas but there are so many opportunities here that we’re focusing on our region.”
The IT support specialist recorded its busiest ever period during lockdown and says the unprecedented period will undoubtedly change working practices in the future.
At the start of lockdown, Cornerstone Business Solutions was regularly taking more than 100 calls a day from companies and businesses who needed urgent help setting up remote working practices so staff could work from home.
Teesside business has adapted very well to the challenges thrown up, says Chris, but going forward the way we all work has got to change massively.
“It went crazy, as you can imagine,” said Chris. “Everybody was looking at how to change their business, how to keep going, how to get staff working from home.
“At our busiest we were getting more than 100 calls a day. Every single call was to get a user set up from home to be able to email, use Teams or Zoom, to get basic things set up.
“Our team was fantastic, we worked all the hours that God gave us to get everybody else to a state where they could work.”
As a leading commercial IT company, Cornerstone’s team was already geared up to work remotely. Well versed in preaching the need to have a crisis recovery plan in place, they were able to quickly and efficiently step up to help others.
Crisis planning, says Chris, will be something businesses will now consider more. As will the cost savings of using remote ways of working.
“This has shown people they should have done a little bit more,” he said.
“We have never ever experienced anything like this before. I think the whole way we work now has got to change massively.
“We have been pitching things like video conferencing for years, it was something you couldn’t sell back then.
“Now because of what’s happened, people have been forced into using the likes of Teams and Zoom and people are saying, ‘It’s ok, it’s not as bad as I thought.’”
Companies are also making savings on expenses including travel and are examining their whole structure as a result.
“We are all realising there are cost savings to be had and it does work,” said Chris.
A new website is being built to showcase all services and the company will cement itself under the Cornerstone Group umbrella.