NFIB Texas Member Profile: Eduardo Contreras, Founder and CEO of ALCON DTS

Date: April 19, 2017

Tell us about your business.

ALCON DTS is a leader in the Computer and Network Integration industry with headquarters located in Austin, TX. By focusing on providing outstanding customer service and value for our small and medium-sized business clients, we have grown to become an expert consultancy with expertise in Managed IT Services, HIPAA Consulting, Cybersecurity, VoIP Phone Systems, Network Integration, and Managed IT Services.

When was it founded?

I started ALCON DTS in 2001.

How did you become a small business owner?

My path to business ownership was driven by my personal experiences with retail stores and business offices. It seemed like every time I would visit a store or office, they were experiencing some sort of technology issue. I would always hear their frustrated comments such as “this computer is so slow,” “the internet isn’t working right now,” or “the phone lines are down.”

Given that my background was in corporate IT systems, I realized that I could make an immediate impact on these organizations and there didn’t seem to be a lack of customers.

Why did you become an NFIB member?

A representative from the NFIB Texas office came to my office to discuss the possibility of my business becoming a member. He explained to me what the NFIB does for small businesses such as mine along with the power that comes from combining all the member’s voices toward a common cause.  I was instantly sold and have never doubted that decision.

In what ways has NFIB helped your small business?

I believe that the NFIB has been a great help to my business and all small businesses. The fact that every NFIB member gets to vote on their Member Ballot to provide the direction for NFIB’s advocacy efforts is worth more than the price each member pays for membership. Most small business owners face similar challenges and feel like they are alone on their own island full of tax burdens, regulatory requirements, and legal challenges. Initiatives that have been led by the NFIB have benefited all small business owners in one way or another.

What’s the biggest challenge that faces Texas small business owners like you?

I would have to say that the biggest challenge I see for my business is regulation regarding employees. There are many proposed regulations that could create serious concerns on how I hire and retain my staff.

How are you tackling that challenge in your own business?

As a company that provides professional services to our clients, our staff members are our most important resource. I encourage open dialog regarding proposed changes to laws and regulations so that we can all understand what impact some of those changes would have.  Some of our conversations become very lively, but in the end I come out with a full understanding of what they are looking for and how I should vote on my NFIB Member Ballot.

What advice would you give new NFIB members to make the most of their membership?

We need ensure that we all vote our Member Ballots.  You should also participate in NFIB events. Attending the events will give you a better understanding of how proposed laws and regulations will impact your business. Once you understand that the NFIB is here to help our businesses succeed with less burden from oppressive taxes and regulation, you will be happy that they are out there fighting for you.

What could help your industry grow?

My industry revolves around helping businesses remain efficient and operational.  A big challenge that we all face is how to protect our business from hackers in a thorough yet cost-effective manner. Currently, implementing cybersecurity measures can be daunting and costly task for small businesses. There are frameworks from NIST, HIPAA, ISO, and so on.  Each one has benefits and challenges. Determining the appropriate framework or “best practices’ to implement is a difficult process that often leaves business owners with some degree of doubt. I believe that with the resources that our government has, they should be able to provide proper guidance for cybersecurity that will protect not only large corporations and utilities, but also small businesses. Having this guidance, small business owners can feel comfortable that they are making the correct decisions when it comes to implementing new technologies and processes.

Who has been a small business hero or mentor that has  helped to shape your entrepreneurialism?

I am fortunate in my business in that my daily interactions are with other business owners.  These interactions lead to discussions beyond their business operations and veer into political, legal, and general business frustrations. Not only are these conversations interesting for me, but I have essentially peered into how hundreds of other business operate. I learned early on that my challenges as a small business owner are not unique to me.

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