As we continue moving toward our company’s 40th anniversary and celebrating who we are as a team, as a company, I sat down with John Arnold, Vice President of Security Operations.
The conversation began with a general discussion of transitions over the past 40 years, and specifically in the past 10 since John joined the team. The changes in technology have impacted customer needs and have opened the door for conversations. For instance, the DIY market has mostly affected residential projects which doesn’t impact ECT, but customers are more knowledgeable of capabilities due to a Ring Doorbell or Nest thermostat they’ve put in their home. Having a basic understanding of available technologies allows us to talk about how to translate those technologies to commercial projects.
This type of education expansion is a good fit for our team’s culture. We’ve always enjoyed that consultative perspective, and this has taken that task to a new level.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is another area of growth we’ve seen over the past 10 years, and the technology continues to evolve quickly. One way we’ve seen this is with technology showing an object left behind on video surveillance. This is especially important for public transportation buildings, as you can imagine, but translates to security in all commercial spaces. The technology shows an object in view that shouldn’t be there, but has been there for a specific amount of time. Other examples include “Crossline Detection” and “People Counting.” Both of these play into security and are examples of different systems working together.
One area of AI that has come along in the past few years is being certain if an object is inanimate or not. For example: a security system looking for movement could see a balloon flying through the air in the middle of the night and sound the alarm of an intruder. Today, the technology knows if that intruder of the space is a breathing being or just a… balloon. These are the kinds of systems we’re installing for our customers everyday.
What John really likes about the new AI and technologies is how integrated they can be. For instance, a security system can alert when a back door is open, and it can trigger a change in the thermostat as well. “Integrating access control, intrusion, video systems, site management and temperature controls all from a single seat can take into account safety and security of an entire business at once,” John says. And today, it can even be managed from a phone.
So what’s on the horizon for our industry and ECT as a whole? John thinks customers are now more open to adaptation and change. “As technology evolves, we see more moving toward a cloud-base solution. The cloud is more widely accepted with cyber security, can be safer for access control and allows for reducing the amount of hardware to be replaced regularly.
Of course, some of this was triggered by the pandemic, but the evolution of technology has been there for a while, it just needed the impetus to come into play.
One of the things John loves about ECT is we are nimble and able to respond to our customers’ needs. We’ve been asked to travel for our customers. “Customers love us so much they send us places instead of finding a subcontractor there. They know our skills and talent and know full-well what they’ll get with the ECT team.”
So when we’re asked to do something new or travel outside of our local area, the response is always “hey let’s do it.” Our culture and leadership allow for that, and we’ve been able to perform, meet the needs. We’re willing to take on the challenge of doing work thousands of miles away because our customers trust us to be successful, and exceed their expectations.”
As we approach our 40-year anniversary, John feels ECT team members have embraced our culture as a whole. “We’re an organization of individuals that come to work do something we like rather than just to put food on the table. At our leadership meetings, the ‘why are you here’ question is typically answered with comments about our culture. The culture and people are really what makes ECT.”
Of course, John touched upon the customers as well. “We gravitate toward customers who have a similar culture. We like to build partnerships – we are not just selling a commodity.” ECT is more concerned with understanding customer needs, so that we can take care of them. “We’re not going to win all the jobs on which we bid, but we are committed to our customers and our team. I like working here at ECT because I feel I’m cared for. People have doctor’s appointments and have kids with ballgames, and that’s all ok. We have work-life balance that works for us.”