Last edited 11:58 a.m., June 23, 2020
Lincoln, Nebraska-based Electronic Contracting Co. is capitalizing on opportunities from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company – which designs, installs and services technology such as audiovisual, fire alarm, nurse call and access control systems – is still on pace to reach its $27 million revenue goal for the year. It’s because the company has seen a spike in AV technology demand with businesses, churches and schools operating remotely.
“That is something our customers are demanding across the board,” says Craig Copas, director of sales. “It’s our fastest-growing market.”
Company officials say they expect to double A/V sales volume in 2020. It’s become the company’s largest sector, eclipsing the fire alarm market. Electronic Contracting operates six offices across the Midwest, including Springfield, and employs 128 people.
Over the last month, the 62-year-old company also has started selling temperature scanning technology with facial recognition made by display manufacturer Goodview. Copas says health care systems have shown the most interest, though only a dozen purchases were finalized by press time.
“It’s a noncontact way to take people’s temperature,” he says. “We went looking for different products, because for health care, our products weren’t gaining traction over the last few months.
“It’s a different product for a different need that needs to be addressed.”
He says the company recently completed quotes for an outlet mall in Nebraska to purchase 80 kiosks, and a Little Rock, Arkansas-based health care system is interested in buying 2,000 units for its 300 member hospitals. The deals were not finalized by press time.
The temperature scanners have several features that allow for full integration into a security system or other systems already in place. For example, the kiosks can become a reader for access control with an employee’s face as their credentials.
So far, no kiosk sales have been made in the Springfield area, says David Daehling, Electronic Contracting’s local office manager. The technology, dubbed Dynamic Detection Display, is available in three formats: as a wall mount, a tabletop computer and floor mount. Prices range from $1,460 to $1,660, says Copas, declining to disclose the details of the distribution agreement with Goodview.
“It’s still a really unsure time for everybody … and as businesses start to open up, we’ll see an influx of sales,” says Miki Wulf, Electronic Contracting’s director of business development and marketing. “Right now, the people who are reaching out are being proactive. Once they see these get into other companies, we’ll see an influx.”
Electronic Contracting’s Springfield office started in Daehling’s home in 2017, and it’s now a three-member team at 1823 W. Sunset St.
With the state of Missouri as his territory, Daehling says he’s seen the most business from senior living facilities, correctional centers and school systems. Customer needs vary from nurse call systems and intercoms to video surveillance and video conferencing solutions.
“In the last two years, we’ve done eight jails in Missouri alone,” he says, though the company has not been hired to work on the new Greene County jail.
The Springfield office accounts for roughly 4.5% of the company’s annual revenue through May, and last year, it generated roughly 3.6% of the $25 million total.
Daehling says he’s also anticipating greater interest from the senior living sector as facility construction spikes in the area. According to past Springfield Business Journal reporting, senior housing projects in the city are approaching $100 million in investments, with at least three breaking ground at the end of 2019. Springhouse Village East and Turners Rock are among the handful of ongoing projects.
A few of Electronic Contracting’s southwest Missouri clients are the Neighborhoods at Quail Creek senior living in Springfield, the Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, the Newton County jail in Neosho and the Everton School District.
While Copas says Electronic Contracting’s audiovisual market has seen continued growth, that’s not so much the case for the global industry.
Reports from the National Systems Contractors Association and the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, aka AVIXA, forecast industry growth over the next few years, though COVID-19 has thrown a slight wrench into the projections.
An AVIXA survey of its 1,600 members at the end of May found the audiovisual sales index dropped in March to 21.3 – a nearly 65% decrease from February. However, in May, the index began showing an upward trend as members reported nearly doubling their March sales.
Global AV industry revenue is poised to take a 7.7% hit this year from a peak $259 billion in 2019, according to AVIXA Senior Director of Market Intelligence Sean Wargo, and it’s likely the industry won’t fully recover until 2022.
Copas says other audiovisual demands from customers include videoconferencing solutions for companies, telemedicine offerings for health care systems and colleges adopting different infrastructures to allow students to connect and adapt to new types of learning.
“The big thing has been remote. We’re working remotely, meeting remotely,” says Copas. “And, we’re becoming more and more of a visual society.”
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