Tag Archives: Eric Marcus

wildfire

How Arizona wildfires impact water supply, economy

Arizona is home to the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in North America, with a single stand stretching from near Flagstaff all the way to the White Mountains of the east.

And in the last 10 years, 25 percent of it burned, said Patrick Graham, Arizona state director for the Nature Conservancy.

Fire suppression and subsequent cleanup costs have risen far beyond estimated prevention costs, according to studies by the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at Northern Arizona University (NAU), among others.

The tourism industry in Arizona, an estimated 20 percent of the state’s economy, is largely dependent on the health of forested lands and other wildlife preserves, a 2007 report by the Governor’s Health Oversight Council stated.

But “wildfires affect the entire state — not just the north,” said Eric Marcus, executive director at the Northern Arizona Sustainable Economic Development Initiative.

A full-cost economic analysis of the 2010 Schultz fire outside of Flagstaff by the ERI revealed the deeper effect of forest fires. More than 15,000 acres of forest were burned, causing an estimated $147 million in economic damage, the report found. An investment of only $15 million could have prevented this catastrophe, said Marcus.

Fire and water

But most of the damage from these wildfires occurs after the fire has been extinguished.

When major wildfires remove the trees and grasses necessary for holding soil in place, a once standard rainstorm can now cause dangerous floods and massive erosion, filling up the reservoirs and ultimately decreasing the carrying capacity of our water supply, said Bruce Hallin, director of water rights and contracts with the Salt River Project.

“These catastrophic wildfires go in and the fire burns so hot that it burns everything,” said Hallin. “It turns it into this wasteland.”

But nothing can hold back sediment from flowing directly into the water supply if a fire were to ignite downstream from the reservoirs, such as the Sunflower fire in 2012. If ash-laden water were to be delivered to processing plants, treatment costs would increase dramatically, thus increasing the price of the water, said Marcus.

The 2002 Hayman fire in Colorado deposited more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment into Denver’s primary drinking water supply. To this day, cleanup is still underway to restore Strontia Springs Reservoir, with costs exceeding $150 million.

“Ultimately, through forest thinning, we don’t want to get to that point,” said Hallin.
One century ago, Arizona’s northern forests were more akin to open grasslands interspersed with towering ponderosas. Ignited by lightning, the grass beneath the trees would carry a smoldering fire along the ground, burning the young trees while only charring the thick bark of the older, more established ponderosas.

Need for thinning

But Arizona’s northern forests have “all departed from the way they were historically,” said Diane Vosick, director of policy and partnerships at ERI.

When grazing came through in the late 1800s and removed all of the grass, fires could no longer move through the forest naturally. Bare soil — which resulted from result over-grazing — allowed the pines to germinate seeds more easily. However, when fires did ignite, the U.S. Forest Service fire policy at the time required any and all fires to be extinguished. This fire policy went unchanged until 1995, allowing millions of young ponderosas and other vegetation to crowd the once-thin forest.

A study conducted by ERI Director Wally Covington found that historically, Arizona’s ponderosa forests contained roughly 25 trees per acre. But now, one acre of forest can contain more than a thousand trees.

“You’ve basically got a big wood pile out there waiting to burn,” said Vosick.

SRP, the water supplier for more than half of Phoenix and nearly all of Tempe, manages eight reservoirs deep within Arizona’s northern region.

“That’s the goal,” said Vosick. “You want fire to do its natural role and to help manage the forests.”

The Four Forest Restoration Initiative, or 4FRI, is a collaborative effort comprised of residents, industry, and the government to restore the Coconino, Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests through thinning and prescribed burning.

Vosick said that 4FRI hopes to have thinned at least 1 million acres of forested land within 20 years.

However, almost no thinning has taken place in nearly five years since the initiative began.

Seeking a solution

“Forest lands have been managed for the last 20 years through litigation and attorneys, not projects,” said Hallin. Because of these legal barriers, Northern Arizona’s timber industry has all but vanished. So even the lands that have been approved for thinning cannot receive the treatment prescribed because there is no longer any industry to do the work, he said.

“You can make money with big old trees, but we don’t want those trees taken out of the forest,” said Marcus. Private enterprise doesn’t want to invest because no money can be made from the small diameter trees, he said.

The only way to thin the forests in a timely manner is through convincing industry that their investment will not be inhibited by litigation because the federal government can’t do it by itself, Hallin said. “The fact of the matter is, without a successful forest products industry, that entire forest is going to burn.”

SRP, in conjunction with the National Forest Foundation, has created the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, enabling individuals and businesses to invest in restoring the lands that provide them water.

“We don’t need to do more research to know what our problem is; we need to generate public interest in fixing things,” said Marcus.

“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later. But if you pay me now, you pay me a fraction of what you’re going to pay me later and have nowhere near the devastating effects that you’re going to have down the road.”

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

Marcus Networking Opens San Diego Office

Tempe-based Marcus Networking announced it has opened a San Diego office to better service Southern California clients.  They team is headed by Jaden Jeter, a 20-year sales executive, who resides in San Diego.  They will offer technology and telecommunications services to clients throughout Southern California.

“We’re growing across the country and servicing clients in multiple states now,” said Eric Marcus, president of Marcus Networking.  “The expansion to San Diego was a natural progression for us.  We have been servicing clients in Southern California for a couple of years, so it just makes sense to have a team in place that can provide 24/7 support, complete installations, troubleshoot and help with industry specific software issues.”

Jeter, who will serve as West Coast business development manager, brings nearly 20 years of sales experience to Marcus Networking.  Recent experience includes five years with MPower, who was recently acquired by TelePacific.  Additional sales experience includes commercial real estate with several large builders in downtown San Diego, a construction firm and radio station.

“The IT industry is constantly changing and evolving,” said Jeter.  “Marcus Networking is in a growth phase and it’s an exciting place to be. We have the ability to offer some cutting edge and cost efficient alternatives to our clients and it’s really neat to see them implement services that make their business more profitable and effective.”

Marcus Networking has an established portfolio in healthcare, real estate, governmental, nonprofit, retail, legal, manufacturing, call centers and finance.  Working with Marcus Networking eliminates the need to call multiple vendors because they can offer both technology and telecommunication solutions.

For more information, contact Jaden Jeter, West Coast business development manager at 1-866-602-6974 x5043.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

CEO Series: Eric Marcus

Eric Marcus
CEO, Marcus Networking
marcusnt.com

Az Business: What does Marcus Networking do?
Eric Marcus: We are a technology and telecommunications company. We manage people’s infrastructure. The easiest way to describe it is you can give us an empty building and we can cable it, bring in the dial tone, install the phone system, procure all the equipment, set up you private industry software, and then we can support it on a 24-hour basis. Our biggest customer base is medical providers. We work a lot with electronic medical records (EMR) and behavioral health.

Video by Cory Bergquist

AB: How is being CEO of Marcus Networking different from being CEO of a company in a different industry?
EM: It’s fun to be the CEO because I get to write my own rules. It’s nice to go out, meet with clients, build a relationship, and let them know that at the end of the day the company will be there for them and I will be there to support them.

AB: How did you start in your industry?
EM: I got into the IT field in 1999, working for a software company that did network management. That company grew from about 15 employees to about 155. As that company grew, my responsibilities grew.

AB: Were there challenges to launching a tech company in Arizona?
EM: For startup capital, I had to use money I had saved working at my previous job. The biggest challenge I had was with credit capital to support projects. You can sell a project all day long for $100,000, but if you don’t have the capital to buy the equipment, you’re kind of dead in the water.

AB: What qualities do you have that make you an effective CEO for Marcus Networking?
EM: I am able to educate a client about what they need to do for their company and let them make the decision. It’s their money, their business, their infrastructure, and at the end of the day it’s my job to be that consultant to educate them and take them from Point A to Point B and decide what is best to build them as a business.

AB: What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in your industry since you started?
EM: The advance of technology. What I mean by that is the cost of equipment and the specifications of equipment like hard drives and bandwidth. Ten years ago, a large hard drive was consider to be 73 gigs. Now, you can buy two- or three-terabyte hard drives for a fraction of that cost.

AB: What changes do you see coming?
EM: Equipment is going to get faster. As bandwidth becomes cheaper or larger, you’re going to see more teleconferencing and unified communication.

AB: What is your greatest accomplishment?
EM: Being in business for 10 years. Being a small business, it’s tough. We had our best years through the worst times. This year, our business is up 50 percent and I know there are companies out there closing their doors or downsizing. The thing I’m most proud is we can scale our business tomorrow, so if I found five salespeople in California tomorrow that wanted to come on board and start selling our product and grow our business, I could hire them tomorrow and start.

AB: How were you able to weather the economic downturn so well?
EM: We are in the medical industry. Doctors have to be on EMR systems. It’s mandated by the federal government, so the government has created a need for our services.

AB: What advice would you give someone looking to start a tech company?
EM: Make sure you’re very organized and make sure you’re ready to sacrifice and be ready to work any day and any time. If we have a doctor call us at 3 a.m. and we don’t pick up that phone, we don’t have a job.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

Tech Q&A: What is cloud computing?

Question: What is cloud computing?

Answer: Everyone is talking about cloud computing.  So, what exactly is it and it is right for your business? Cloud computing is the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the Internet).

The real question is should you use a hosted or non-hosted cloud? In other words, does your company want to own the system or lease it?

We’re firm believers that owning is a better solution. There are so many variables in cloud computing that no one takes into consideration. Where are you geographically located? How reliable is your internet connect? Can you survive without access to your cloud system? These are just a few things to think about.

Some benefits of cloud computing are lower overhead and system maintenance. Lower cost of ownership and upgrades. To determine which solution is best you really need to sit with a IT consultant and map out the big picture of your company.

Eric Marcus is CEO of Tempe-based Marcus Networking, which specializes in telecommunications centered on phone systems, cabling, and the network infrastructure also known as the “backbone.” Read more about Eric Marcus in the January issue of Az Business magazine.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

Tech Q&A: Outsourcing vs. consultant

Question: In this economy, does it make more sense to outsource IT or utilize a consultant?
 
Answer: Outsourcing is more cost effective than a full time person and you gain 24/7 support, whereas an employee only works a certain shift like 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Outsourcing means you are getting more than just a single person who manages your network. You are a getting a team of experienced technicians who can handle all areas of telecommunications and technology.

Let’s say you have an IT issue in the middle of the night, Marcus Networking has the ability to connect remotely to most computers and take control of the user’s session and see what’s going on.  We can provide hands-on support without being onsite. Most issues are resolved within 15 minutes and that’s faster than it would be to wake a sleeping employee, have them get dressed and drive to the office.

If we find a problem with parts or equipment, we can generally purchase a replacement component and be on-site and have the issue fixed within an hour or two of the diagnosis.  Again, much more efficient than waiting for the employee to get to work and diagnose what’s going on.

In today’s marketplace, outsourcing is about 45 percent less than the cost of a full time employee.  When you consider salary, benefits, payroll taxes, mandatory workman’s compensation, vacation days, sick days, 401K’s or a bonus plan it adds up quickly. Outsourcing is an affordable option for many businesses who wish to get a higher level of work.

Eric Marcus is CEO of Tempe-based Marcus Networking, which specializes in telecommunications centered on phone systems, cabling, and the network infrastructure also known as the “backbone.” Read more about Eric Marcus in the January issue of Az Business magazine.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

Tech Q&A: Year-end budgeting

This is the first of what will be a continuing series of technology questions answered by Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking in Tempe.

Question: What technology or telecommunications products should we purchase before year-end?

Answer: December is an excellent time to evaluate your IT needs for the coming year and with Section 179 Deductions changing, small businesses should take advantage of purchasing new equipment before it’s too late.

According to the IRS, Section 179 of the IRS code allows small businesses to deduct the cost of machinery, vehicles, equipment, furniture and other property. This was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At that time, the maximum amount that a business could deduct was $250,000. In 2011, the maximum deduction that a small business could make was $500,000, but in 2012, the amount drops to $139,000.

Marcus Networking recommends replacing old laptops, wireless access points, battery back-ups, MS Office, VoIP phone systems, and servers before Dec. 31, 2012.  All of these products and services can improve workplace efficient and save money in the long run.

We’re also available to provide a free consultation and discuss your business needs.  Does some of your staff work remotely? Will you be adding or reducing staff in the coming year? Are you building a new office? Would you like to cut travel costs and have the ability to do presentations remotely? All of these factors determine what products and services we’ll recommend for your business.  And remember, you’ll always want to talk to your accountant before making any large capital purchases to ensure you follow the Section 179 code and take advantage to its fullest.

 

Eric Marcus is CEO of Tempe-based Marcus Networking, which specializes in telecommunications centered on phone systems, cabling, and the network infrastructure also known as the “backbone.” Read more about Eric Marcus in the January issue of Az Business magazine.