EVANSVILLE, IN-South Western Communications (SWC) has been in business since 1976, observing technology's evolution to the network-based facilities of today. In 2006 the company saw a transformation of its own when Koch Enterprises, a privately-owned Indiana company, purchased SWC. Boasting new ownership, SWC continues to spread its reach well out of southern Indiana.
Randy Miller began SWC doing general AV work, but over time Miller pushed his company into the integration business, working in education, healthcare, detention, and general industrial/commercial. Since then, four branches were opened in Indianapolis, IN; Nashville, TN; Decatur, AL; and Evansville, IN, spreading business over the region.
Miller emphasized the importance of evolving with changing technology, as current SWC president, Todd Lucy, explained. "Randy and the company's leadership have been willing to change with the times," he said. "We started out doing one thing but have added additional areas of business. One key to that growth has been that as we've opened offices in other areas, we've allowed the management team to figure out where it makes the most sense to do business. We're big enough that we've got some additional resources, but we're small enough that we can be pretty nimble."
Technology has been an important part of SWC's longevity, as Lucy said. "When you're around for a while, you end up making some mistakes with technology. You want to be innovative, but not beyond the bleeding edge. That's a challenge for all of us. You want to work with key vendors that you have a good established record with and where you've partnered over the course of time. You want to continue to develop those relationships. We want to give them feedback and hear what their new products are. You're constantly working together, looking for the next innovation. Sometimes we push, sometimes they're pushing us."
SWC provided Watauga Corrections Facility outside of Boone, NC (below) with this control panel to monitor security.
Some of the most recent technologies that SWC has been pursuing involve the advent of network-based innovations. "We're always interested in the connected or smart building technologies," Lucy expanded. "I think every company in our business is migrating toward our systems being on the network. And beyond that, a real effort is being made to manage those systems in a user-friendly fashion that's able to leverage the technology to realize an ROI. So frequently now you've got all these silo systems with proprietary management systems, and it's a real challenge to get to anything that meaningfully integrates those. We do that pretty effectively in our detention business, where we're using a PLC to monitor multiple systems in a facility."
While the detention market has offered opportunities in integration, Lucy is seeing the same growth in other markets. "We are beginning to see the same level of integration in our other divisions of business, and we're constantly pushing in that direction. Trying to keep an eye on what's coming down the road, that's a labor of love all of us enjoy."
To keep SWC's staff current with the rapidly changing systems, Lucy has made an effort to educate his people. "We're committed to our sales and marketing staff being really steeped in the knowledge of those vertical markets. On the technical side, we're geared more toward expertise, so if a person knows access control we make sure they're very good at it. It doesn't matter if that's in a hospital or school, we want our technical staff to be very capable with certain systems in all of our vertical markets."