[IMAGE]12199[/IMAGE]Giving People What They Need
Two other key components to STI’s foundation of success are the care and responsiveness executed for both external and internal customers alike.
In addition to the client communication methods described in the previous section, upon the completion of all projects a Quality Assurance Survey is E-mailed out to spur continual evaluation and improvement. To encourage participation, clients are given an incentive toward their next purchase.
STI facilitates strong communications among staff members and departments. The Sales & Design team meets daily to ensure projects are quoted and presented in a timely manner. Managers and field supervisors meet weekly to evaluate and schedule upcoming projects. The Customer Service department also huddles weekly to review and address any issues.
The effectiveness of these efforts is apparent in letters clients have written to the company. “STI was very professional and efficient, and it was a pleasure to work with them from start to finish.” Another wrote, “Your team surpassed the knowledge of our systems and codes and regulations for our upgrades.”
Those comments also speak to the caliber of personnel customers associate with STI, both in terms of attitude and expertise. “We look for individuals who possess a security systems background and a willingness to learn,” says Pope. “It is also critical that the individual be versatile and a team player.”
To stay current on technologies, STI’s staff continually participates in vendor-provided training and Webinars, and by attending tradeshows to acquire and maintain certifications. The firm developed an Educational Advancement Fund that offers employees $2,500 annually to use toward professional development.
“We believe the talent and expertise of our people is our greatest asset,” adds Pope. “Their certifications enable us to design and install very comprehensive custom integration projects that create customer satisfaction, loyalty, and referrals.”
STI has implemented several practices to keep its associates engaged, motivated and fulfilled. Quarterly meetings keep employees informed and provide a platform for two-way communication. These sessions include breakfast, reports on how the company is doing, an open discussion, awards and recognition, and often a lunch cookout followed by safety and product training.
“Heroes are touted for contributions ‘over and above,’ and awards are given for technicians, employees and Idea of the Month,” says Pope. “Winners are presented a certificate that can be redeemed for a day off or cash value toward an equipment purchase. There’s also our ‘Wall of Fame,’ which everyone wants to be included on.”
Model Corporate Citizenry
A final quality deemed essential in the Installer of the Year judging is demonstration of good corporate citizenship by giving back to communities served, as well as the electronic security industry itself. These qualities again speak to STI’s virtues.
The integrator eagerly provides equipment and technical support for charitable and community events, hosting functions for organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Home Builders Association. The firm recently completed a large project at Akron (Ohio) Children’s Hospital that includes an Expressive Arts Therapy Center featuring a performance stage and recording studio equipped with a pan/tilt/zoom camera.
“Our favorite holiday charity is the ‘Adopt a Family’ program where we collect money from our employees, match their contributions, and use it to buy and wrap Christmas presents for children of struggling single parents,” says Pope. “The event comes complete with Santa and his elf helper, and is hosted in our showroom.”
As part of NBC’s “Three Wishes” television program, AVI helped provide a home theater to a Canton-area soldier returning from the Iraq War. The company donated a rear-projection TV, surround sound system and installation. The company also offers informational videos and downloadable materials online covering topics like fire escape plans and carbon monoxide (CO) detection.
From an industry standpoint, the integrator is very active within both the security and A/V sectors. Pope has served as a board member for the Ohio Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and CEA’s TechHome Division and is currently a board member on that organization’s Audio Video Retailer Division. He also participates on the advisory committee responsible for hosting the Electronic Security Association (ESA) Leadership Summit, and often partakes in industry panels and presentations.
STI Marketing and Communications Coordinator Lisa Matthews has been chosen to serve as vice chair of a newly formed Sales & Marketing Professionals Group and presented at the recent Electronic Security Expo (ESX) in Charlotte, N.C. “We are proud of our participation, contributions and reputation, and feel that we bring credibility to the field,” says Matthews.
Although STI has received other recognition in the past, Pope is especially pleased to have captured the Installer of the Year trophy. “It means the most to my team because it substantiates the standards and values that we promote,” he says. “This award validates our efforts and beliefs.”
Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 11 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125.
Read the stories for Installer of the Year Runners-up:
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Installer of the Year
Safety Technologies Inc.