Check out the business section of any magazine or newspaper, and you are bound to see a story that focuses on one of the following topics: staffing challenges, personalization or tech-related changes. Prime Communications Inc. has each of these topics in mind, which has enabled the company to experience rapid growth.
Prime Communications made a major leap in the Security Business Fast50 – moving from No. 31 and into the top five after a very strong 2018 that saw a 45-percent growth rate.
Founded in 2001 as an infrastructure company, Prime Communications diversified in 2006, making the decision to focus on physical security and IT. At the time, Prime was one of the few security firms focused 100 percent on IP-based physical security systems in its area, which led to significant growth within the first few years. The Elkhorn, Neb. (just outside of Omaha)-based company has a global workforce, with remote employees throughout the United States and subcontractors who work internationally.
Prime Communications is an IT-centric organization focused on managed services. The unique way they solve problems and their incorporation of engineering enables them to offer personalized solutions. Customers are drawn to the service and feel confident their people and assets are being protected.
Traditional Markets, Personalized Solutions
Prime Communications focuses mainly on customers in healthcare, retail and education. The decision to branch into the healthcare industry was a natural, as the company had already been deploying medical telemetry all across the country – moving to the security side within healthcare simply made sense.
As for the education market, a 2011 school shooting in Omaha in which a student shot a principal and assistant principal before killing himself proved to be a turning point. The tragedy left the school committed to increasing security, and they turned to Prime Communications for assistance. Over the course of the nearly three-year project, the company partnered with architectural and engineering firms to build systems to secure the school. “From there, we have grown, and our team understands how to deal with education-related security problems,” explains Jamie Bumgardner, the company’s VP and COO.
The company’s entry into retail was organic, Bumgardner says. A large retailer in the Omaha area asked the company to evaluate its security. “It was a big success story on how we reduced shrinkage,” Bumgardner says. “The retail world is small, and people talk…then that sector of our business took off.”
Regardless of the vertical, Prime Communications is focused on creating a customer experience that sets them apart. “We’re not attacking every vertical in the market,” says Bumgardner. “For those vertical markets were in, we are very present by going to industry events and being part of advisory committees, etc.” This presence enables people in the markets to recognize Prime Communications and leads to new business.
According to Bumgardner, the company’s objective is for each end-user to feel that “because of the Prime Communications customer experience, I have greater confidence that I can better protect my people and my assets, and find more joy in my job because Prime Communications solved our problems.”
While Prime Communications customers typically have similar security issues and challenges, Bumgardner says the company goes to great lengths to personalize solutions. The security systems created can only happen after the company has a clear and deep understanding of the customer’s environment. “We want customers to view us as a trusted advisor,” he says. “When we engineer systems, we go through it with customers so they understand exactly what they are buying.”
By creating an open relationship with its customers, Prime Communications encourages customers to be honest about their needs. “We tell our customers tell us what you want us to do and we’ll figure it out,” Bumgardner says.
While the elusive one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t exist, the company uses a custom integration group that focuses on the challenge of creating a fully unified platform that integrates familiar security, video surveillance and access control equipment with other business systems. Bumgardner says this focus is a differentiator for the company.
“The engineering piece of our organization separates us, and we invest a great deal of time into engineering,” Bumgardner says.
In addition, Bumgardner credits cloud-based hosted systems as a major driver of the company’s growth. The company has embraced solutions such as video analytics, cloud-based video storage, video surveillance as a service and cloud-based access control. “We saw a big shift in mindset in 2018 with our lager clients in regards to the cloud,” Bumgardner says. “Even some of the most demanding clients are asking about cloud solutions and our ability to host and manage those systems.”
Over and over, Fast50 companies – and perhaps the entire security integration industry in general – cite talent acquisition as their primary challenge when it comes to running a fast-growing security business. A company can say all the right things and make promises and offer guarantees; however, it is all for naught without a workforce to turn those words into actions.
Bumgardner also believes that talent acquisition is the number-one issue in the industry. Three years ago, Bumgardner says company executives “stepped back and said ‘we need to shift our focus to our employees.’”
They started by creating a “culture committee” run exclusively by the employees – who make decisions related to company events and charity work performed in Omaha and the surrounding areas, as well as contribute to companywide issues.
“Anything that impacts their lives day-to-day in the organization, they have a say in,” Bumgardner explains, pointing out that Prime Communications restructured its employee vacation policy due to the culture committee’s recommendations.
Engaging employees in decisions has led to happier employees, which, in turn, has made recruiting easier, when employees start spreading the word about the type of workplace Prime Communications is. “People come to us and say ‘I heard of you and how good it is here,’” Bumgardner confirms.
While improving the culture of the company as a whole has proven to be a very positive step in Prime Communications’ hiring efforts, Bumgardner admits that it remains a challenge for the company and the industry as a whole. “We need to get young people to want to come into this industry,” he says. “We need to communicate how sophisticated systems are and get young people to understand how tech-driven the industry is and let them know about the opportunities for growth.”
Every successful company and industry should be focused on the future as much as – or even more than – the present. With today’s competitive markets, this has never been more true; and change in the security industry is happening at rapid pace. With information readily available, customers have become more intelligent, and expectations have risen.
Beyond staying ahead of the technology curve, a company cannot flourish if it is not continually evolving to solve client issues in new ways every day.
“We try to stay ahead of curve regarding services we provide, as they are much more sophisticated from an IT perspective,” Bumgardner says. “We identify areas where we can provide value above and beyond just the deployment of systems.
“(Security) is a large market with many verticals and endless technology,” he adds. “Find your niche and stay focused.”
Larry Bernstein is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. Learn more at http://larrydbernstein.com.