Finding the Right People
While it is nice to have a plan and projections for success, eventually it comes time to put up or shut up. For any security company, that means having the sales and service technicians on the ground to deliver what the customer needs.
Thomas admits that finding people is one of the biggest challenges he faces. “It takes a very long time to find the right people,” he says. Typically, the hiring process is a six-month odyssey. Once the right person is found, the training and re-training commitment is huge.
Thomas says they have had success hiring aggressively out of college and then training open minds to the company’s standards and requirements. “The younger generation is leaps and bounds above other workers when it comes to understanding technology,” says Thomas, who is just 34 years old himself.
People who are jazzed by A3’s culture love what they do and how it all comes together. “In a word, our people are ‘passionate’ about their jobs,” Thomas says. He adds ‘competitive’ and ‘prideful’ to his list.
“What separates us is the fact we are not a networking company,” Thomas says. “We are not just AV or physical security or cabling or virtualization — we are able to offer to serve all of an enterprise’s technical needs under one umbrella.”
What business would not be charmed by a company that has done away with the blame game when a system has a hiccup? For A3’s customers, there is only one team to deal with and that team is dedicated to fixing problems. “It does away with the finger-pointing,” Thomas says.
More Growth Coming
Over the next five years, Thomas says that he would like to see A3 expand its national footprint and go beyond the Southeastern regional market.
Make no mistake: the Southeast has been good to A3. A couple of years ago, they opened an office in Atlanta. Business boomed – again, following the template of success they established in South Carolina with offices in Columbia, Greenville and Charleston. The Atlanta office grew 200 percent in its first years, and it’s where Thomas is based.“We treat expansion almost like creating a franchise,” Thomas says. “We want to be a national integrator and I believe we can do that.”
North Carolina became the next growth target. In addition to geographic expansion, they are broadening their market footprint while always staying true to their enterprise, government and education foundation.
A typical growth pattern for A3 can be seen in the financial market. Several years ago, they got a contract from a regional bank in South Carolina. Things went well and they began talking to other banks in state. Soon, they found themselves serving some major banking customers. “We learn from what we do,” Thomas says.
Their customers learn, too. Twice in the past three years, first in 2011 and again in 2013, A3 has been named Axis’s Education Market Partner of the Year. “We are seeing in the education market the rise of big security systems. We’ve found we can do it for them,” Thomas says, adding that A3 understands the purchasing process schools follow and knows how to help them work with their client bases to assure them that their money is well spent.
Under Thomas’ leadership, A3 was recognized in April 2013 as the “17th Fastest Growing Systems Integrator” in America by SD&I magazine for the company’s exponential growth in recent years. Today it is perched at #4. Prior to joining A3, Thomas held various sales and management roles in the telecommunications and mortgage industries throughout Atlanta. He is also an Honor Graduate of the United States Marine Corps and served as an M1A1 Tank Crewman before his medical discharge in 2000.
From computers to IP, from security to accounting, Thomas speaks the language of success in the security business.
Curt Harler is a technology writer and regular contributor to SD&I. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.