Combining The Old With The New

What's the secret to running a successful business?

Providing good customer service, most entrepreneurs will tell you. The catch? Settling on a solid definition of the term.

According to the folks at SKC Communications Products, Inc., providing good customer service comes naturally. It's just something that they do.

Founded in 1985 by Paul Ammeen, SKC began by distributing Plantronics headsets. "At the beginning, we targeted small and mid-sized markets that would bring in small orders with higher profit margins," explained Kelly Ammeen, the company's vice president of marketing. "As we grew, we started working with larger Fortune 500 organizations."

Today, SKC employs 100 staff members, is headquartered in Shawnee Mission, KS and boasts offices in Chicago, California, Minneapolis, Oklahoma and Connecticut. In addition to supplying Plantronics headsets, the company has branched out to offer Avaya systems, voice and videoconferencing hardware, room integration services and audio/videoconferencing services, where callers may purchase time on SKC's own bridges.

"In 1994, SKC added Polycom voice conferencing products and saw immediate success. When Polycom introduced videoconferencing shortly thereafter, we were among the first to jump right in," Ammeen recalled. "Over the last three years, we have expanded into offering complete custom room integration. Our experience with videoconferencing systems and data networks offers a natural fit when it comes to integrating rooms within a videoconferencing structure. Our integration team has over 100 years of combined experience in designing and supporting custom room solutions."

Ammeen believes that one of the most significant differentiating factors between SKC and other companies is the firm's commitment to support. "We really do have great support; everybody says this," she said. "We are big enough that we can handle anything, but we are also small enough that it doesn't take us days to get an answer back to our client. We are really quick to respond to their specific needs and provide what they want without a delay."

This, in combination with a strong sales force, has SKC's customer base growing steadily. "We are growing really fast. We really focus on customer satisfaction and sales, and not so much on reporting and behind-the-scenes stuff," she said.

During tougher economic times, SKC managed to continue expanding, positioning the company for even more growth now, as the economy gradually improves. "We have been really lucky," Ammeen admitted. "When everyone else was struggling, we saw continued growth. We had the resources to stay out there and let people know what we were doing. Now that the economy is coming back, we are in a really good position. We are seeing so many new opportunities. We feel like this is going to be one of our best years."

SKC Communications Products...

Carolyn Heinze ( is a freelance writer/editor.

"People" People In A Customer Company

If you want to run a company that delivers outstanding customer service, you better have the right people behind you.

According to Kelly Ammeen, vice president of marketing at SKC Communication Products, Inc., that's just what the company has got. "Our employees are very, very dedicated to success," she said. "Many of them have been here since we were a lot smaller, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that we are able to take care of our clients the way that we want to." In the coming year, the company has plans to expand its support staff even more.

Carolyn Heinze has covered everything from AV/IT and business to cowboys and cowgirls ... and the horses they love. She was the Paris contributing editor for the pan-European site Running in Heels, providing news and views on fashion, culture, and the arts for her column, “France in Your Pants.” She has also contributed critiques of foreign cinema and French politics for the politico-literary site, The New Vulgate.