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Akron Dispersions is a family owned manufacturing company located in Akron, OH. For over 50 years, they have served the polymer, chemical, coating and adhesive industries with innovative and industry leading dispersions, emulsions, and finely powdered chemicals specific to the manufacturing needs of their customers. There are only a few companies worldwide that do what they do.

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Keystone Technology Consultants has developed a process to align the business and technology of an organization. Our approach includes a series of steps and related tools which taken together and executed by strategic thought leaders at Keystone alongside business leaders of its client will provide a technology roadmap for the organization. If you desire  to have this process as part of your Keystone services, please contact us so that we can discuss it’s applicability for you.

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Keystone has seen a lot of growth lately – with new clients, capabilities, and services! We are fortunate to have added some awesome new people to help our growing client base. These new team members are part of the user support desk, so our clients have a great chance to hear or see them in action.

We want to welcome the following new teammates!

Beth Humbel

Beth is our new dispatcher, so when you call or email in, she is usually the first beth-humbelperson to look at your needs, and she does it as soon as possible – within a few minutes! Beth enjoys working with customers and finding products or solutions which work best for their needs. To her, it is rewarding to have someone she has worked with be happy with the service they have received. She loves doing that at Keystone, because as a technology company, things are always changing and that keeps her interest. She said the energy level everybody brings at Keystone is great, and she enjoys the collaboration each team member brings to the table to solve complex issues. There is never a day where she does not learn something new, and have something to share with her friends and family.

In her role as dispatcher, Beth enjoys talking with our customers and being a part of a team which helps provide solutions. Beth is a strategic person and likes the challenges this position gives her.
When Beth is not taking care of clients at Keystone, she enjoys golfing, painting and riding bikes. And when not doing those, you can find her having dinner with my friends and family.

Jason Schmidt

Jason was always the “tech guy” at past jobs, so he focused his career in it. Partjason-schmidt
of his journey in this includes getting a Bachelor’s degree in technology from Kent State University.

Jason love technology because it meets his constant goal of learning. He tries to keep up on the new and exciting things that seem to come out weekly in the world of technology. To him, doing system setups is a lot like figuring out a puzzle. In his short time at Keystone, Jason said he enjoys the people, and feels like they are now a second family (and you are a part of the family Jason!)

When he is not building new systems, and helping users, he said he spends his time “doing what my kids want to do”.

Cory Lazenko

Cory is almost an old timer in this group of new employees. He joined us in cory-lazenkoAugust, 2016 as a level 1 Support Team engineer, and has been doing a great job ever since!

Cory has his associates degree in Computer Science and has plans to get Microsoft Certification within the next year.

He loves technology for so many reasons! The simple fact that the right group of people can get together and literally change the world from their desk, is a very enticing thought. Enough to keep him hungry for whatever he can feed his brain with. He said he does what he does because “the world is built on computers and not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a background in them, and those people need help in the right direction or the world as a whole is doomed unless people like us stand up to help.” He said he loves working at Keystone, the atmosphere and the people make it fun to come in and hard to leave.

When not at Keystone, Cory loves to spend time with his five-year-old daughter, and his new wife, Jessica (Congratulations!). And when he finds more time, he likes to play his guitar and write music.

Zach Richardson

zach-richardsonZach joined in October, 2016 as level 1 Support Team engineer. His IT career
includes Network Administration and Security; he has certifications in Cisco CCNA 200-120, and CompTIA Network Plus. This lines up with his main interests of Networking, Security, and Virtualization. Prior to joining Keystone, Zach was at Walsh University as a security specialist. He said he “loves working with technology and helping people, and that technology never ends with information and helping people always make me happy!”

Zach has a second job operating the audio-visual equipment Quicken Loans Arena, including the Cavs games.

In Zach’s short time at Keystone, he has been enjoying the people and the environment. And because he prioritizes school and learning, he wants to continue to grow here!

Nathan Satola

Nathan also joined us in October as a level 1 Support Team Engineer. He was nathan-satolapreviously a remote support technician for Diebold, and was a field technician for TWC prior to that. He has a Network Systems Administration degree. He likes the field, because it allows him work with different software, and build hardware.

Nathan also said he likes being in a help desk position because he enjoys helping people accomplish their goals with his skill set they may not have the ability or knowledge to help themselves.

He appreciates Keystone, because “the team is always eager to help and really know their stuff.”

In his spare time, Nathan likes to cook, and attend cub scouts’ meetings with his son.

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Buying a laptop is a task you will probably do often in your life. You may need one for work and must operate within some corporate requirements for manufacturer or budgets, or purchase one for personal use or as a gift for a family member. It is important to have a good approach to selecting and buying a laptop to get the most value out of it. We cover some important aspects of this here.laptop-1-of-7

First, it’s not so much the cost of the laptop, mostly these have become commodity items and they all look the same while sitting on the shelf. It’s the experience you have after you open it up and use it. The difference of a few hundred dollars will soon be forgotten if it is a great performer.

Where to Start when Buying a Laptop

The first thing you should consider is this is a device you will spend a lot of time using. And sometimes we forget this is a “PC”, which means “personal computer”. This means you are the primary and usually sole user of the laptop, and it needs to work for you personally, and your lifestyle and the things you need to do with it. Because of this we’re going to begin with what to consider before you even go to the store or the online site.

Considerations when Buying a Laptop

  • First consider what is important to you within your lifestyle and needs. Here are things to think about.
  • Portability – should the laptop be light and easy to carry because you move around a lot throughout the day?
  • Battery life – will you be working for long time periods where it is not convenient to plug-in? If so focus on battery life, and understand that the manufacturer may specify the life of the battery in hours which is not realistic for your use. They may say it is a ten-hour battery life and you will find you only get seven.
  • Power – here we are primarily thinking of the processing power of the CPU, and the memory. If you will use it for some high-end processing, such as video editing, CAD, database manipulation, then you may need a more powerful device. This may sacrifice portability or battery life aspects. Of all the items you may consider spending more, this is the one. A more powerful device may last you longer because it will keep up with future upgrades of the software.
  • Disk space – this is somewhat inherent to power, but can be separated. You may not need a lot of processing power, but need a lot of disk space for images, or just a high volume of data. This may require you to use a traditional hard drive as opposed to a solid-state storage device, such as an SSD. An SSD is basically a disk using memory instead of spinning platters. It is much faster, quieter, and often better for battery life. But because of the expense is often smaller than a traditional drive.
    Screen capabilities – you may like a higher resolution screen which looks better, but may affect the battery life. One of the biggest impacts to battery life is the number of pixels on the screen and brightness, so that if you have a bright, high resolution screen your battery life may suffer.
  • Touchscreen or Digitizer – for Windows-based systems, and some Google Chromebooks, a touchscreen is an option. Windows 10 is optimized for use with a touchscreen. It may seem odd to request this given the fact the screen is right there in front of you and you have a trackpad or mouse, but the ability to interact directly with information by touching it often helps us understand it better. A digitizer allows the use of a pen, one which will not cause stray marks from your palm because it rejects touch when the pen is in use. Higher end Windows laptops, especially those from Microsoft often include a pen built-in.
    Size of the keyboard or screen – this will affect portability, but you may like a larger screen, or a numeric keypad. Once you’ve added these features you are usually at a 15 or 17-inch laptop which will have reduced portability, and higher weight.
  • Manufacturer support – this is more important than most people estimate. By this we primarily mean software driver support. One of the biggest issues you will have with a laptop is how well the hardware works with the software, primarily the operating system. If the power drivers are not well tuned, you may have various issues with the machine when it goes to sleep or tries to wake up. Or the trackpad may not offer smooth and effective performance, or the fan runs constantly. We suggest that you consider solid brand names and those that support their hardware with updated and effective software drivers. I have found this the greatest impact to my use of a laptop.
  • Peripherals – many peripherals work over USB, or wirelessly. The most important aspect we are looking at here is first are the ports necessary on the laptop you are considering? Does it have a full-size HDMI connection if that is important to you? Second, does the laptop support a docking station? If you need to go to your desk and quickly lock in and have access to a full screen monitor, keyboard, etc. then you will want to have the ability for a docking station to be easily connected.
  • Cost – this is the last consideration. A well-chosen laptop will probably last you for about 3 to 4 years. Even if you paid $2000 instead of $500, we are only talking about $20 a month’s difference for something you may use well over 100 hours a month. Unless necessary, make this the lowest priority on your list.

How to Use the Considerations when Buying a Laptop

So how do you put all those considerations above into practical use? First, rank them per your specific needs. You may have to trade certain things for others. Ideally, we could have a tiny device the size of a cell phone that when pulled from the pocket, will unfold into this powerful high performance machine with the glorious screen, but that’s just not possible. This means if you would like a large screen you will sacrifice portability. If you want to have a high-resolution screen and a powerful CPU running at top speed all the time, you will likely sacrifice battery life.

For my personal purposes, I prefer excellent manufacturer support, battery life, and portability. Most of what I do these days is working in Microsoft office applications and having a few browser tabs open. If I were still doing high-end programming and database work I would like a more powerful device. This has led me to select brand-name devices that way at or under 3 pounds and which have at least 10 hours of battery life. But you may have a different outcome based on your considerations.

I often have multiple laptops I use because I have varying needs.

  • An Apple MacBook Air – I love the hardware, size, and battery life. I could go almost a day and ½ on the battery by keeping the screen at a low brightness. It packs away, sleeps, and wakes up quickly as needed. I use this primarily for the office applications, and photo management and editing.
  • A Microsoft Surface Book – I just added this a few weeks ago. I was using a Hewlett-Packard Spectre X360, but it seemed to have various issues including drivers. That’s not normal for HP but it caused me to look again. The Surface Book has some issues with drivers, but after about four weeks of regular and sometimes intense use, it has done well. I like that it weighs about 3½ pounds, has a pen, and the screen can detach to work like a tablet.
  • An Asus ChromeBook Flip – a small, 10 inch laptop that flips over to be a tablet. This runs the Google Chrome OS so effectively it’s nothing more than a web browser. But Google recently included this device to run android applications on it also. I’ve been using it like this for about two months with mixed results. It is nice because it is small and light and the touchscreen is great for just sitting on the couch and browsing (though I still prefer the iPad for this).

What should you do next?

If it’s time for you to buy a laptop, perhaps one over the holidays as a gift, consider the aspects listed above and rate them based on what is important to you. Then head to the store and focus on those devices that will best meet your needs. Don’t let the Best Buy Geek talk you into something that you don’t need. Focus on what’s important to you.

If you are a corporate client of Keystone ask us for assistance in finding the right model for you. It’s part of the service our help desk provides, and it is invaluable to get something you will enjoy!

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Buying a laptop is a task you will probably do often in your life. You may need one for work and must operate within some corporate requirements for manufacturer or budgets, or purchase one for personal use or as a gift for a family member. It is important to have a good approach to selecting and buying a laptop to get the most value out of it. We cover some important aspects of this here.

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Business Continuity (BC) is defined as the capability of the organization to continue delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident. (Source: ISO 22301:2012) The disruptive events can be Mother Nature, loss of a key employee, a vindictive employee, a technology or mechanical failure, or a malware breech. Obviously, any and all of these can bring your business to a screeching halt.

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Business espionage hacker stealing corporate information or government surveillance privacy violation

Information Security in Manufacturing is a key objective to maintain the health of your business. The threat of loss of intellectual property or operational information is high because the systems you use normally are accessible from the outside, and the data they hold is valuable to others. After all you create and sell something of value, right?

A recent article in Crain’s Cleveland Magazine highlighted this for Northeastern Ohio manufacturing companies. It is worth the read, but we expand upon these and provide more direction here.

Let’s consider the threats, what you may need to secure, and some best practices to accomplish this for manufacturing firms.

Threats in Information Security in Manufacturing

The threats are many and growing. Some to consider are:

  • Loss of intellectual property – The product data you maintain, including designs, recipes, and bills of material. Someone in your industry, particularly from foreign countries with a repeated pattern of copying, find it helpful to simply clone your products and sell them for less.
  • Personal Identity Theft – Your employee information is a valuable resource, especially if it has social security numbers, addresses, etc. It is all too common to see people lose control of their identity in financial systems or online store fronts like Amazon or
  • Loss of Financial Information – Your cost structures, vendor lists, customer lists, and sales data can create a picture for someone who wants to invade your space in the market.
  • Malicious attacks on your business – Your systems are vulnerable to damage once accessed, either by deletion, encryption for a ransom (CryptoLocker), or even forcing your machines to run ineffectively or to the point of damage (Stuxnet).
    Someone who wants to leverage the information inside the business – Threats are not just external, an employee may want to access information to help themselves, such as knowing the payroll of the company so they can negotiate a raise.
  • External applications or systems that are insecure – Many functions are moving to the cloud, so you also need to understand what systems are being used and their information security practices. Many companies use CRM systems like, or Google Docs, or an online utility to convert a document into a PDF. All of the data you send or store in these are managed by other, or someone may even impersonate them and hijack your data.

All of these are threats, and knowing them helps you identify the assets to secure.

Assets that may need Secured for Information Security in Manufacturing

Having reviewed the list of threats, you may already think about what should be secured; here are ideas to help.

  • ERP/MRP/Accounting Systems – These systems hold so much of your business – start here.
  • Human Resources Data – Employee personal information, salaries, reviews, etc.
    Product Designs, including CAD files, cost estimates, marketing plans, and other product information.
  • Strategic Documents – Those that describe the business plans and organizational changes.
    Personal Computers and Devices – Users often store data or the credentials needed to access the data (e.g. “saved passwords”), so an insecure PC is a path into data stored in other systems.
  • Servers – It almost goes without saying, but all servers should be physically and logically secured.
  • Connected Devices – It is not just the servers or PCs, any device on your network is an entry point. Consider printers, scanners, embedded production controllers, wireless access points, security cameras, and handheld barcode scanners. All of these have been granted access to valuable data, and accessing them accesses the data.
  • Shared folders – where common documents like marketing brochures, project plans, and other departmental or enterprise data is stored.
  • Cloud Systems that store or process your data – As we stated above, every partner you work with to store or process data should be vetted. It is all too common to read about a breach in systems of these organizations.
  • USB Drives – We often see users or even IT support personnel using USB drives to store data, when left insecure they are an easy target to pick up and view the information they hold.

Best Practices for Information Security in Manufacturing

Finally, we can wrap up with some best practices you should implement to secure the overall environment.

  • Identify Information Assets – This is covered above, and it must be maintained and checked regularly as your systems will change. Annual verification is a must.
  • Contract for Annual Security Penetration tests –Skilled third parties work the process as a hacker would. This provides a punch list of items to secure.
  • Manage your firewall – the firewall is the primary point of entry into your systems, and requires no physical access. We recommend SonicWALLs, because they are simpler to manage, and with less complexity comes greater understanding of the way data is being processed through them.
  • Review all accounts and their access – When we start with a new client, it is shocking to see how many abandoned accounts exist. These are user accounts where the employee has left the organization, or changed roles. When these changes happen, secure the account and review for deletion. If left behind, they provide a way into your systems.
  • Have regular patching and upgrades – Organizations sometimes think they can save money by delaying upgrading or patching systems, but they become more and more vulnerable to new threats not accounted for in the installed version, rendering them insecure. This includes software, and network components like firewalls and wireless access points. Microsoft and others release these patches to plug these holes, so keep them up to date!
  • Provide Employee Training – Employees are a weak link in the process – often using insecure passwords, clicking things that install malicious software, or sharing credentials with others. Users should be regularly trained, and policies should be in place to require secure practices.
  • Implement Secure Password policies – Require a minimum length, special characters, and change requirements. Do not over do this or else users write them down on sticky notes because they cannot remember them.
  • Check physical security – I am shocked at how often I should not have access to a network, but can easily plug into a cabled network port and have full physical access. This also includes securing servers behind a locked door with limited access.
  • Turn on security audit capabilities – These logs will provide a way to understand the threats and breaches of your systems.
  • Have excellent backups – If data is accessed and destroyed, you will need good backups to resume operations, and potentially determine the history of access so you can see if data was stolen.


Information Security in manufacturing is an important objective, providing long term reliability for your business. Keystone Technology Consultants takes this seriously and knows it is a cat and mouse game with new threats coming all the time. We run a Client Data Safety team that meets monthly to review all threats to our clients, and proactively plans the best way to thwart them. Call us today to discuss your systems and how they can be secured.

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iphone-skype-for-businessMicrosoft’s Skype for Business is a powerful collaboration tool, and provides many benefits for small to medium sized business (or even large organizations). In this presentation, we show you what Skype for Business is, why you should consider it, and display the most useful features. Our goal is to provide you with some information that may be helpful when you want to improve the capabilities, effectiveness, and collaboration of your organization.

In this presentation, you will learn that Skype for Business:

  • Allows you to instant message inside and outside the organizational walls
  • Is a hosted VOIP phone system
  • Can replace your voice conference lines, Webex, and GoToMeeting accounts
  • Provides chat, voice, or video communications
  • Works on multiple devices like PCs, tablets, smartphones, and desk phones
  • Can be the basis your conference room system
  • Allows screen or document sharing, even co-editing documents
  • Can handle up to 250 attendees
  • Integrates with Microsoft Outlook, so you can solve the email mess most of face, by supplementing with more effective communication options more while still having the power of email.

Keystone has helped numerous organizations plan and deploy Skype for Business. In one case we saw greater collaboration, and the removal of a $60,000 video conferencing system! We recommend you review this and call, or just call and let’s consider together if Skype for Business can help you.

You can also watch this as an Office Mix Video, with enhanced capabilities.

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Microsoft Office 365 provides many important capabilities to small businesses. Keystone has successfully implemented this for most of our clients and now has thousands of users who have email, online file storage, Skype for business and other capabilities as a result. There are many questions that arise when businesses are considering this option and we wanted to share with you some things that you should know when evaluating this.

We have prepared an online PowerPoint presented as a video (using Office Mix) which you can watch or download; this will provide you with the most complete information about office 365 and its capabilities for small business. You can watch it above or by following this link: Office 365 Capabilities for Small Business

We will recap a few of the top items here.

Recap of Office 365 Capabilities for Small Business

  • Office 365 addresses many important business issues. Among these are the necessity to access data from anywhere at any time using almost any device, the ability to collaborate among team members on the same document, the ability to manage costs, and improve security and reliability. There are many more but these are key for most businesses today.
  • Office 365 is an ecosystem that includes various client tools like Microsoft office and web applications in browsers, and server-based systems such as Exchange email and SharePoint. These can be mixed and matched across your environment to effectively provide seamless access in a way the user can most benefit by it.
  • The same document can be edited across multiple platforms, in fact our PowerPoint video was created on an Apple Macintosh, edited on an iPad, and finalized and mixed on a Windows PC.
    Users can work together real time so that they see each other’s changes as they are communicating about them even though they are in separate locations.
  • There are multiple subscription levels and we explain each of these to help you understand how you can mix and match them for the most cost-effective investment.
  • A discussion of the off-line capabilities which allows you to take your files with you and then synchronize at a later point.
  • A list of reasons you may want to use office 365, and a list of why you may not.

Office 365 is a large, and sometimes complex set of tools. We believe this information will help you understand it better, but are always ready and willing to meet with you and discuss these items as they are specifically relevant to you.

Contact Gene Whaley at to see if you can benefit from Office 365.