Best Telecommunications Equipment Dealer
Internet Solver Inc., Dave Weis. Photo by Duane Tinkey
Best Telecommunications Equipment Dealer Internet Solver Inc., Dave Weis. Photo by Duane Tinkey

Best Telecommunications Equipment Dealer

Internet Solver Inc.

Internet Solver Inc. focuses on keeping technology simple and streamlined so its customers can have the best experience.

Internet Solver President Dave Weis said his company can provide all the telecommunications technology that a small to medium-sized business needs to operate.

"It makes it very simple for the customers, because they only have a single company that they need to deal with," Weis said. "They know that there are not going to be any conflicts between the different providers, no finger pointing. If there is a problem, we fix it."

This was the basis of Weis' business plan when he started Internet Solver in his basement in 2002. When his wife suggested the company move after it reached three employees, Weis moved the business to 42nd Street before settling on Internet Solver's current location at 11308 Aurora Ave. in Urbandale last year.

Internet Solver also bundles free installation and equipment rental into its telephone service, which Weis said makes his company an affordable choice.

Aside from providing telephone and Internet services to homes and businesses in the Des Moines area, Weis said Internet Solver is working on applying its simple, flat rates to the consulting and IT aspects of the company.

"The most important thing we provide is a complete package; there is no question of who is going to help you," Weis said.

Runners-up: A+ Communications & Security; Qwest Communications International Inc.



Best Wireless Phone Service

Verizon Wireless

When it comes to wireless phone service, speed and reliability are key, and Verizon Wireless representatives say that is why their company comes out on top.

"We strive to take care of our customers by having the fastest, most reliable network in Central Iowa," said Karen Smith, a Verizon corporate spokeswoman. "More and more people, even in this economy, consider wireless an essential product, and we take that seriously."

Mobile Internet access has become increasingly important for Verizon's customer base. Smith said 40 percent of Verizon's sales last quarter were for "smart" phones able to check e-mail or surf the Web. With smart phones able to connect to data at 3G speeds, Smith said Verizon is a top choice for consumers.

Verizon is also a good value, she said. The company offers plans that can be shared within a family and free calling between Verizon customers.

Verizon plans to continue to expand its coverage in the state, especially in the Interstate 80 corridor between Des Moines and Iowa City.

Runners-up: U.S. Cellular Corp.; Sprint Nextel Corp.



Best Local Internet Service Provider

Qwest Communications International Inc.

Qwest Communications International Inc.'s reputation for reliable Internet access is why 2.6 million people have chosen its services, said Joanna Hjelmeland, a Qwest spokeswoman.

"In an economy like this one, people are looking for a provider that can give them reliable Internet without spending too much," Hjelmeland said. "Qwest is able to do exactly that."

The company provides a variety of custom Internet packages as well, creating another selling point, said Hjelmeland. Customers can choose from a variety of speeds, ranging from basic high-speed Internet all the way to packages that allow downloads at 40 megabits per second.

The newest, fastest service available in the Des Moines area is called Qwest 40 Meg service. With the use of fiber-optic cables, Qwest is able to provide download speeds of 40 megabits per second and upload speeds of 20 megabits per second. The service was announced in the Des Moines area two weeks ago, and a spokesperson said a couple dozen customers already are using it.

"Internet technology and the needs of our customers are constantly changing, but Qwest is an evolving company that is able to meet those challenges," Hjelmeland said.

Runners-up: Mediacom Communications Corp.; Internet Solver Inc.



Best Computer Consulting Company

Alliance Technologies Inc.

With one employee having the highest Citrix Systems Inc. certification - one of only 20 people in the world with that designation - and another having the highest VMware certification - the only person with that designation in Iowa - Alliance Technologies Inc. has positioned itself as the expert in server virtualization in Central Iowa.

Business "has been down a fair amount with the economy," said CEO Mike Lang, "but because of our virtualization, we've been able to at least maintain if not grow within that area." The virtualization system is an especially strong sell now, Lang said, because it allows companies to reduce the amount of hardware they own, while still being able to run the software applications they need.

Of Alliance's 100 employees, about 75 percent provide some kind of consulting services to clients, usually medium-sized and large companies. But Lang said it is hard to define consulting in the field, because even the company's network services division still provides some consulting work. Alliance considers consulting as helping companies come up with the best layout for a project and then handling any business gained from that, such as software development or custom-development work.

About a year ago, Iowa Network Services Inc. acquired a controlling interest in Alliance, bringing it under its umbrella and helping it become a dominant player in the technology industry in Greater Des Moines. Its virtualization expertise is helping it achieve its goal of being a leader in the marketplace.

"As far as Central Iowa, and I guess Iowa in general," Lang said, "I believe we're if not the largest, then one of the largest virtualization consulting firms."

Runners-up: RSM McGladrey Inc.; AVI Systems Inc.



Best Computer Training Company

Spindustry Training LLC

When layoffs started mushrooming about eight months ago, leading some large corporations to cut computer training programs, Spindustry Training LLC stepped up to help some of its biggest clients empower employees to do more with less.

"We help them get through that process by offering the right kind of training in the right kind of way," said Stephen Fry, co-founder and co-owner of Spindustry Training. "We help companies empower the employees they still have around."

Fry said live training sessions, as opposed to the online training avenue that many other companies use, give Spindustry a competitive advantage in a tough economy.

"There are times that you need an instructor in the room to help you overcome new technologies," he said, adding that bringing people up to speed on the latest developments, as well as helping them to fully utilize existing applications, is one way his company is helping employees to work better, smarter and faster.

Spindusty also delivers clients something that is very meaningful to their employees: an interactive classroom setting.

"People like that," Fry said.

Runners-up: New Horizons Computer Learning Center; EmbarkIT Inc.



Best Website Developer

Spindustry Interactive Inc.

When Spindustry Interactive Inc. co-founders Stephen Fry and Michael Bird travel around the country, they are always looking to bring business back home to Iowa.

And instead of asking clients what they want and then building it for them, the 13-year-old company's approach to developing Web sites begins with two questions: Is it viable? and Can it be successful?

"Our No. 1 goal is to help Iowa-based clients get more business by using the Internet," Fry said.

"We do not consider ourselves a bleeding-edge company," he said. "We are much more interested in using what is tried and true."

Fry said Spindustry's use of traditional Web design elements has worked out well, adding that the company's focus on front-end strategic engagement helps customers increase sales and save money. "Those are always in vogue," he said.

And when the Web developer does delve into the latest applications, having a sister company in the computer training business gives it a distinct advantage, Fry said.

Trainers "already have a heads up" on new products, said Angela Culbertson, general manager of Spindustry Training LLC, making it easy for designers and programmers to get questions answered right away.

Fry said Spindustry provides, at a fraction of the cost, the type of forward thinking that many people believe is only available in larger cities.

"We are very pro-Iowa," Fry said. "We have outsourced ourselves to New York and Los Angeles companies," and worked with most Fortune 500 companies, "all from our little office in Des Moines."

Runners-up: Alliance Technologies Inc.; Flynn Wright