The story of how Indianapolis-based Sensory Technologies grew to become ranked 27th in the SCN Top 50 in 2019 starts with a match made in heaven. Add some business chops, great partnerships, and a willingness to address weaknesses, and it’s little surprise how this former mom-and-pop shop has grown into an industry titan.
During Anne Sellers’ early career, she created and managed several companies, and was an accountant for various firms including Ernst & Young. At the same time, husband Andy Sellers worked for Indiana Bell in video production and integrating audiovisual equipment into systems that transmitted over telephone lines. When his department at Bell closed, the husband and wife team launched Visual Science, an AV integration company.
“In the beginning, it was all Andy,” said Anne Sellers, managing principal of Sensory Technologies. “All I did was keep the books, answer the phone, and do deliveries.”
As it was for many companies, Sept. 11, 2001, was a turning point. “For three weeks, the phone didn’t ring,” said Sellers. “Andy was the engineering and the ops guy. I was the person who said, ‘Unless we can get X, Y, and Z done, we will never succeed.’” It was at this point that she became managing principal.
To take their business to the next level, they realized they needed to fill a key role. “We were fortunate to know our weaknesses, and we needed a salesperson,” said Sellers. “I don’t think it’s overstating it to say God sent us Derek Paquin, who later became our partner.”
In 2006, Sellers brokered a deal with Markey’s Audio Visual and formed Sensory Technologies.
Today, Sensory Technologies has six offices in Indiana, New York, and Illinois, 170 employees, and an estimated revenue of nearly $43 million in 2019.
It Takes a Trade Group
Sellers credits industry organizations such as NSCA, PSNI, and AVIXA for helping to provide guideposts.
“Lots of people can build a rack,” said Sellers, “but you have to know how to run a business to make it successful.” And that’s where NSCA (National Systems Contractors Association) comes in. “The NSCA looks out for and helps teach its members the patterns of success in this arena,” she said.
According to Sellers, the AV industry is under attack by electrical trade unions. “They are trying to get all kinds of licensing and constrictive laws through that benefit them,” she said. She credits the NSCA team, and specifically Chuck Wilson, for keeping that from happening.
Another group that has provided strength for Sellers is the PSNI Global Alliance, which comprises integrators, manufacturers, distributors, and service partners. “I always felt that when we were invited into PSNI, it was like we were in the National Honor Society,” said Sellers. “It is an honor to be among them.”
Sellers credits AVIXA for providing a venue and platform to meet peers, teach standards, and learn about technologies that will shape the offerings of Sensory Technologies.
Mentoring and being in involved in organizations where she can give back is important to Sellers. She has spent time on several boards, and recently joined the board of directors at PBS affiliate WFYI Indianapolis.
“We are in a changing industry, and we have to pay attention to what the future is going to look like,” said Sellers. “Our equipment is becoming more network-based, so we need to hire people with these skills,” she said.
“And we are just beginning to sell AV as a service. That is where the opportunity is,” she added.
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