by Kris Ann Hegle
SBJ Contributing Writer
Not many things in the fast-changing world of communications could be described as "traditional." Radiophone Engineering Inc., however, is one of them.
Three generations of the George family have run Radiophone, which sells and services Motorola communications products. Urso George founded the business in 1948, turning it over to his son, Jon, when he retired in 1972. Jon George is continuing the family tradition, and he is working alongside his son, John George, who will head up the company when the elder George retires.
Originally, Radiophone served as a factory-authorized service and repair shop for Motorola two-way radios while Motorola maintained a direct sales force. In 1988, business increased substantially when Radiophone began selling the full line of Motorola two-way communications products including portable and mobile radios, base stations, repeaters, consoles, mobile data equipment, paging infrastructure and pagers.
According to Jon George, Radiophone's customers are specialized. All of them must be licensed to own and operate the equipment the company sells.
Some of the company's customers include Springfield's fire, public works and police departments. In fact Carter Brock, Radiophone's chief technician, built the communications portion of the Springfield Police Department's emergency 911 center, according to Jon George.
Radiophone also counts several local and area hospitals among its customers, and the company's technicians designed and installed the mobile data and global positioning system used by ambulances in Cox Health Systems.
The GPS tracks the location of each ambulance on a computerized map, and when an emergency call is received, the ambulance closest to the scene can be dispatched.
Radiophone also sets up two-way radio communication systems for commercial clients, such as Bass Pro Outdoor World. Other clients include local, state and federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.
Sales and consulting work are an integral part of the business, and two members of the company's sales team are former Motorola regional sales managers. However, Radiophone's service and repair department is still what makes the company stand out from the competition, John George said.
"There's probably 10 to 12 other companies in our 21-county territory who sell two-way radios," John George said. "What sets us apart from the competition is the size and experience level of our service department. Our technicians are phenomenal."
Many of Radiophone's team members have considerable tenure with the company. Four of the company's 18 employees have been with Radiophone for more than 20 years, and several others have worked for the company for more than a decade.
New service technicians are usually paired with more senior service technicians, according to John George, and if needed, new technicians are sent to highly specialized Motorola schools and seminars.
Radiophone serves as a central point of contact for customers who need repair work. Units under warranty are either fixed at Radiophone or shipped to Motorola's radio support center, while units past the manufacturer's warranty are put on a service contract with Radiophone. Customers who don't have service contracts are charged on a time-and-materials basis.
In the service area, technicians can be found working in anti-static rooms repairing equipment or in a cooper-screen room that eliminates outside interference when testing two-way radios.
John George said the scope and quality of the work done at Radiophone hasn't gone unnoticed. The sales department has achieved Motorola's Pinnacle Club, which recognizes top dealers throughout the United States.
Last year, Robert Galvin, son of Motorola's founder Paul Galvin, visited Radiophone during its 50th anniversary. Galvin is a former Motorola CEO and serves as chairman of the executive committee of Motorola's board of directors.
According to John George, Galvin was so impressed by Radiophone's operations that he asked Motorola Vice President Jim Sarrallo to send out a team to examine and document the company's practices so they could serve as a benchmark for more than 600 other Motorola service and repair shops across the United States.
Last year, Radiophone celebrated another significant event when it opened a wholly-owned subsidiary in Springdale, Ark. Like its parent company, Radiophone of Northwest Arkansas is a Motorola factory-authorized sales and service provider. The shop serves a five-county area in Northwest Arkansas.
The company is entering into the fields of closed-circuit television, satellite two-way radio and telephone systems, and in-building telephony systems. John George said the expansion will help Radiophone meet its customers' changing needs.
"We have to expand to be able to compete in the future," he said. "The field of telecommunications is growing, and we plan on growing with it." [[In-content Ad]]
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