While a lot of high-tech service and management firms are treading water, cutting costs or shutting down, Alphanumeric continues to grow.

“Everybody is in cost recovery mode and holding umbrellas over their heads,” said Steve Chase, executive vice president of Alphanumeric. “Not us.

“We are making decisions now that are setting us up for seven to 10 years down the road. This is a very significant move for us.”

The “significant move” is the acquisition of a network operations center and the staff that mans it in Columbia, SC. The NOC formerly was run by IKON Solutions and served as the technical service groups for the Carolinas.

Chase said Alphanumeric chose to expand even in difficult economic times in part because so many customers and prospects were asking for more services.

“Over the last two or three years, I give four to five calls a week from people wanting us to do business with them, or to acquire them,” he said. But Alphanumeric, which is owned by Darlene Johns, has been cautious in its growth. Nothing that other firms overreached and expanded too fast in recent years, Chase said, “We could be careful or we could do something stupid.

“The 24-year history of our company under Darlene has always been managed growth.”

The latest deal is the second Alphanumeric has struck with Ikon. In December, Alphanumeric acquired a team of 23 engineers and sales staff based across South Carolina in Columbia, Greenville and Charleston.

The addition of the NOC gives Alphanumeric the capability of providing remote managed services.

“The biggest thing is, this gives us a bigger footprint to cover North and South Carolina,” Chase said. “This gives us more geographic range and better ability to service our customers.”

Alphanumeric employs some 300 people and offers systems integration, IT recruiting and staffing, technical training and hardware as well as software sales. Alphanumeric also is the only IT firm in the Southeast certified as both a Novell Platinum Partner and Microsoft Managed Gold Partner at the enterprise level.

The company has offices in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greenville and Greensboro, NC; the three South Carolina locations; and Philadelphia.

Alphanumeric: www.alphanumeric.com