Beyond The Box

Beyond The Box
  • SCOTTSDALE, AZ-John Godbout, CEO and founder of CCS Presentation Systems, has watched his company grow from a two-person operation to a nationwide integrator over the past 15 years. From its humble beginnings as a box company, CCS has developed into a multifaceted business that aims to educate those it integrates. As the need for integration grew, CCS attacked the market with customer service and new technology to develop a national presence.

CCS's CEO and founder John Godbout has built his integration business on keying in on technology trends and emphasizing educating clients and his staff.
To assist in growth, CCS spread its abilities across the industry, doing work in each vertical market. Godbout explained, "Across the country our work is about 50 percent private and 50 percent commercial. We do a lot of K-12 classroom work. We do some churches, and we have a rep that does only healthcare work. And recently a lot of the high-end hotels are installing plasmas, so we're getting a lot of that work, including the new JW hotel out in Arizona. We don't shy away from a whole lot."

A major challenge for CCS and the rest of the industry is finding qualified, educated people to become full-time integrators. CCS actively recruits former teachers, education technology specialists, and even a former middle school principal to work at the company. Godbout feels that teachers are the best group to be educated on how to best use technology as a teaching tool. But finding new blood to install the gear is still a difficult process. CCS has taken a different approach to this issue by going to local high schools to recruit.

Julie Solomon, marketing and training manager for CCS, expanded, "We've created our own installation courses internally, picking up some high school students as interns, and taking them through some installation classes at our office so they become sort of an apprentice. Then when they graduate, if they're doing well with the internship we offer them a full time position. We call it CCS University."

CCS invested in a training center for several of their large offices nationally that will hold 50-60 people. Besides using the center for educating new prospects for employment, newly integrated clients are trained to use their gear. Solomon said, "This year alone we've trained 2,500 customers. We average 17 training events a month, from superintendents and teachers, to corporate communities learning products. Our facility is even used by other companies to train people. By welcoming people into our integrated facility, we generate business."

Godbout took the chance in building the facility but claims it was a wise investment. "As the technology gets more complicated it's vital that we train our clients on the equipment they're spending millions of dollars on. A big differentiator for CCS is that we spend a lot of time and money on training for the equipment. It's probably one of most inventive and productive approaches we've taken."

Godbout has a philosophy about the integration business that has matured his company and the industry alike. "This is a relationship biz, not just between you and your employees, but among other companies. There are companies like Tierney Bros and AVI that I'm in contact with all the time and that's an important relationship that I foster and maintain." Godbout continued, "And then there's the relationship between you and your manufacturing partners. And we call them partners because we wouldn't be in the situation we're in without our manufacturers. Your relationships with those people are absolutely important and that's one of my main jobs, keeping those relationships strong."

Margin Builders
CCS has developed its approach to the market as the industry has evolved. CEO and founder, John Godbout said, "When we were a box house you could sell a projector and make 35 points. Those days are gone, now you might sell a projector for cost. So you figure out ways to stay in business. The way we've persevered is we've completely transformed into a full integration company with engineering and CAD drawers. We started that process about seven years ago, really cranking it up three years ago. Now our salesmen can sit down with an engineer and set up a scope of work."