By Ryan Abeling On September 02, 2008
|ECCO integrated the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha, NE.|
COMPANY: Electronic Contracting
HEADQUARTERS: Lincoln, NE
AV/IT CONVERGENCE: ECCO developed an integration software suite that has helped the company expand its business to more remote locations. The software integrates several life safety and nurse call systems into an online monitoring system.
Adam Karavus has held the post of president throughout Electronic Contracting's (ECCO) 50-year history, leading the company through many technological advances while maintaining steady growth throughout. Keeping interest in each market has been a part of ECCO's success, allowing the company to sustain its reputation as one of the best contractors in the Midwest.
Karavus graduated from college in August 1958 and went to work for a company called High Gain Electronics. He would go on to start the Electronic Contracting division, and this month marks the 50th year of business for ECCO, a company with four branches and more than 100 employees.
"I'm a business education graduate, so I've been successful by surrounding myself with outstanding people in all facets," Karavus explained. "We were able to roll from the first market we were in, antennae systems. The next thing we did was school intercoms, and drive-in systems. Then we got into the hotel market, installing voice evacuation systems in the 1970s before anyone knew what they were. Life safety has always been one of our big pushes in the marketplace."
ECCO would continue to explore markets, expanding its breadth of skills. Karavus said, "We've always rolled from one market to the next, and in our business, we're about one-third AV, one-third industrial/commercial (which includes nurse call and intercom), and one-third life safety and security. We try to keep it spread out so we don't get overloaded in one marketplace. We customize our sales efforts to our customers' needs."
Bruce Petersen, vice president of finance for ECCO elaborated, "The breadth of the market we cover makes it difficult for any individual to be up to speed on every system we offer, so we have specialists in each of our offices. Dealing with a church, for example, is entirely different than a hospital."
When training clients on their new systems, ECCO usually spends a lot of time planning the systems in advance to make sure they're as simple as possible.
"Part of the challenge we have with today's market is that the products we all have are so feature-rich that it's a challenge for us to make it simple enough for the end users to actually use everything and get the most they can out of the system," Petersen said. "So a lot of that comes out of the programming and the configuration of the system. The training of the end-user is critical. If they can't use the features in the systems we're offering then they do them no good."
Karavus emphasized the importance of maintaining a client base within ECCO's immediate area. "We try to do most work around our offices," he said. "If we can't get to the customer's site within three hours, we really don't want to do an installation because we'll be letting them down by not being able to give them immediate service. But with the software program we've developed, we're able to install farther off, like Canada or Scottsdale, AZ."
The software program is called Monitor 32 and has allowed ECCO to expand its business to more remote locations. John Dodds, executive vice president of ECCO explained, "The software program is an integration suite that ties conventional and adjustable nurse call, fire alarm, and door security systems together into a monitoring package. Basically it provides online monitoring and notification when events occur. It's really an insurance policy for the facility, and we're able to assist them with the system on our end because it's all online."
"We're one of the only contractors that have software engineers on staff," Karavus added. "And the software really helps our bigger clients because their staff doesn't have to be tied to a central station. They can be notified of an event wherever they are, so they can be much more productive. There are manufacturers with these systems out there, but our system works with multiple manufacturers and it doesn't cause us to have to rip out all the existing gear to make it work. And it's so easy to operate."